I grew up in a traditional home and church where the ideal was that the mother nurtured and raised the children as well as took care of the home, and the father made all the decisions and financially supported the family. I was taught early on that the most godly life purpose for a woman was to get married and raise children, having no outside occupation or aspirations. When my mother did return to work full-time, due to financial challenges, adjustments in other roles were not made. She continued to assume primary responsibility of caring for me, cooking all meals (from scratch) and keeping the house spotless. My father continued to work and take care of smaller outside duties, like mowing the lawn.
My husband and I met in college and married one year after graduation. His background and understanding of gender obligations was like mine. During college, I had no personal dreams and aspirations and was never challenged on the matter. Yet I did have a strong personality and easily vocalized my views. I simply wanted to be married and have children, and all of my goals were focused around these. After five years of marriage, we became parents (four boys in five years) and we fell into a pattern; he made all the decisions and carried the financial burden alone while I was solely responsible, with God’s help, to raise our children. Both of us felt we carried heavy burdens. He did not desire to make all the decisions and carry the financial burden alone, and I felt trapped in not having a voice in decision making, feeling that my views were not important compared to his.
He regularly attempted to communicate his unhappiness, but I had a hard time hearing him. He would challenge me about the lack of vocational vision I had for my own life (outside the home). But when I looked to the future all I could see was what I wanted my children to become—I had no dream for my own life. A little over a year ago, he again expressed his dissatisfaction, and this time I agreed. We prayed together for balance and I fully submitted to God, knowing God would answer our request and that I would have the courage to follow the call on my life. Recently, I began looking for a job that could use my strengths and passions and allow me to discover a dream for my own life. With God’s leading, I began working full-time at CBE as the events coordinator (and I love it!). After a month of working, the summer drew to a close. I began getting nervous about how I would work and fulfill all the obligations as a mother that I had always carried. My husband assured me that he had a lot to offer at home and was excited to engage more and carry more responsibilities around the home and with our boys. I was unsure and skeptical that he would follow through or that this desire would last.
School has only just begun but already my husband has risen to the occasion and been a tremendous help every time the needs arise: he helps in the mornings getting the boys ready, in the evenings with making lunches, cleaning up after dinner, and with the boys’ nightly assignments. Once, in the middle of the night, he told me to stay in bed so he could get up to assist our three year old. In our eight years of parenting I remember very few instances of him getting up out of bed or even waking up in the middle of the night to care for our boys’ needs. This blew me away!
That night, I realized for the first time that God has answered and is answering our prayer! My husband is faithfully sharing the load of parenting and helping with household functions while I assist in the financial provision of our family and making decisions. God is faithful and I can trust my husband to be faithful to continue. This is what an egalitarian parenting partnership looks like and I am grateful for this new season. Though it is not easy and it seems there are constant demands, by God’s grace we are doing this together and figuring out what balance looks like.