There is a lot of conflict and challenge in role switching, between parents. At the beginning of this year I became a stay at home dad. Prior to that both myself and my wife worked. The last eleven months in my new role have been, honestly, horrible.
It’s been horrible because change brings conflict especially if roles are not understood by third parties. Last week was an absolute low point for me. External parties with their own agendas got in my space and buggered me up, that then has a knock on effect with the people I’m close to.
Yet today, with it’s cold sleety rain and getting the children up early and the post-argument cloud in the house, I now feel different. Why, two other families interacted with mine in a nice way. Somehow I now feel more positive.
The main problem with switching gender roles is that our (myself and my wife’s) are distinctly opposite of what our genders are. We are both aware that we are predominantly in groups that comprised mainly of the opposite sex, my wife in IT, me at the school gate.
Too much media emphasis is placed on workplace sex and cougar, milf soccermums. The reality is far from it. Most of the women I see on a daily basis I wouldn’t want to have an affaire with. Anyway, why do affaires happen, it because dissatisfaction with your current partner leads you to believe you will find connection with another person. That’s the emotional part of it, wouldn’t it be nice to spend sexy time with someone where the realities of work, school, children, finances and the history (good and bad) isn’t there. Where the festering wounds of arguments, disagreements, slights and the other choss of day to day life with someone you spend every day with. Well we all think that from time to time. It’s the acting out part, suddenly finding yourself in an emotional situation that’s taken over you.
All of that is an assumption on my part, it’s my interpretation of how it happens. It’s not something I want to do. I once got into a sticky situation, this woman bore a striking resemblance to my wife, as we talked in a pub one night I realised not only did she bear a physical resemblance she bore a psychological resemblance too. I found myself fancying her quite a lot, yet somehow a small, subconscious part of my brain went Why? I would go out of the frying pan and into the fire if I chose to go down that path. It was out of respect for the emotional and psychological welfare for my wife that I chose not to. I realised I loved, cared for and desired my wife above placing our relationship in jeopardy and this was way before my wife lost a breast, put on weight and developed psoriasis.
I was watching her this morning, walking around naked while she was getting dressed, I couldn’t take my eyes off her; bum, belly, bits, boob. It makes her uncomfortable, because she doesn’t fancy herself any longer, but I do. Sometimes I get angrified and have a snark at her telling her she’s ugly, they’re very infrequently but none the less I do it and it has far reaching effects. I’d like to understand why I do it as it’s not good and worthless. If I can gawp at her like I did this morning and often I gaze at her while she’s sleeping, enjoying her nakedness, why do I get angry and be regrettably obnoxious?
If I can respect her emotional and psychological welfare a large proportion of the time, what triggers the obnoxious behaviour, why is it inside me at all?
I guess it’s because of the daily life stress elements that we pickup and weigh upon us. Last week was very stressy for me, I had a lot of difficulties getting the girls to and from school. Other parents etc got in my way and had the impact of making me feel worthless (there are some schoolyard mums who make junkyard dogs look like little fluffy newborn pups). That followed up with my wife saying something cheezy to me about my chances of getting a job, I took it all badly, festered and exploded.
None of that was helped by other people, I had rung a help line where the other person had their own shitty agenda and rather than offering help made things worse. Followed on by a shitty meeting at school where everyone seemed to have free reign in gossiping about my families situation.
It was frustrating and I ended up not getting the help, support and behaviour from my family. What did I actually want? I wanted my children to come home quietly and go to bed with out a fuss. I wanted my wife to go “there there dear, it will get better, stop thinking about it. I’m going to have to suck your big hard manly cock until you cum in my mouth and I swallow down all your yummy spunk, then you can fuck me six ways to where-ever doing anything you want”, actually we did that Friday and her bits haven’t really recovered yet. So I guess what I needed was some time out and time off to do what I want as I don’t really get much of that. Then again neither does my wife. I don’t actually know what would constitute time out time off for her. I need to discover that.
So the conflict and challenge in role switching is multifaceted, there’s my needs as a man cast into a generally perceived female role and that brings about conflict. There’s my wife’s needs as a woman in a male dominated job. There are the families needs in conflicting roles that cause significant amounts of confusion. Several years ago, my wife was a stay at home and she said to me one day “All I am is a mummy – I have nothing else” That was bothersome at the time and I chose to help her see otherwise, that became equally as disastrous because of the attitudes of the people she associated with. She started feeling less like a robotic nurture machine to feeling like a woman again, except the women who were also mummies made digs at her. Sadly, neither of us have developed thick skins and tiny comments have a ripple effect in our subconsciouses.
I pointed out to her on Monday, that I don’t even have the luxury of being the “mummy” because the stereotype of my now role doesn’t exist. A daddy-mummy, a mummy-daddy. I made a trite joke that she didn’t like that we should change the role names. I can be the dummy and she can be the maddy, hybrids of our gender roles in the family, that didn’t go down well.
The thing is is that there should be absolute equality in these roles, yet it doesn’t seemed to have happened. I’m as capable of being a mother as I am a father. My wife is as capable as being the breadwinner as she is a homemaker. These roles are just jobs nothing more nothing less. Our genitalia does not define us, our sexuality doesn’t define us. Sexuality and genitalia are there only for two purposes, making children and having fun. Yet the stereotyping in society and the inability to philosophise about it perpetuate difficulty.
I have very strong feelings about all this, I’m the product of a woman who worked hard and broke the glass ceiling in international banking, in the ’80’s she featured in the Wall Street Journal, was on the cover of Banking America, not bad for a small town jewish girl from the UK. The cost was her family, I ran away from home at 14 and was a rough sleeper because the environment was so toxic. My goal now should be to ensure that as much toxicity is removed from my family, yet we’re confronted by these issues almost daily. My poor wife for example get snarked at by work because she wants time to go to her daughters birthday party, men diss her for not being capable in her job because they perceive women shouldn’t do it. I think back to the hell my mother must have gone through at work with no support, at home with no support. I understand now why she was such an evil nasty piece of work. She had to be, just to survive and get through each day.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m starting with myself. I know what I want, I know the things I can change, I know the things that I can’t change and what I can’t control.
I am a Cnut, it’s time to try to stop ordering the sea back and respect those around me.