Gender Roles: Things I’ve Learned From Living Topsy Turvy

A few months ago, life in the little Walker house flipped upside-down. I switched from being a housewife to being a working mom; and Daniel switched from being the bread-winner to being a stay-at-home dad.

Our first thoughts: Daniel was going to take back the house. He would finally get things organized the way he wanted. I would get a break from kids climbing all over me and asking me 10,000 questions.

Well, things may have started that way, but reality has definitely set in. The house is back to “normal,” and my job is basically answering 10,000 questions – only they’re from teenagers! There have been some bumps and hiccups along the way, but we’re making it. This is definitely a growing and stretching period for both of us. So, looking back on the past few months, here’s what I’ve learned so far . . . .

1. The MOST important thing for our relationship is trust. The children were my responsibility for over four years. I decided what they wore, what they ate, where they went, etc. Now, I have to trust that Daniel knows what he’s doing. I know that sounds bad – he is their father, after all. But it’s hard to let go of control of something, or someone, that is so dear to you. I have to trust Daniel, and he has to trust me. We’re living on one income. If I lose my job, we’ll be in a pickle. Daniel has to trust that I am going to do the best job I can, so I can keep my job. Trust is a two-way street.

2. The second thing I’ve gained from this transition is a sense of appreciation. When Daniel worked, I expected him to come home and take the kids off my hands. Kids were obviously more exhausting than working with adults all day. Daniel also had high expectations of me when I stayed at home. I like to tell him he should’ve been born in the 1950s. He wanted to go to work, come home, and be greeted by a clean house, hot dinner, happy children, and even a wife who had figured out how to shower that day. Needless to say, he was disappointed more than once.

Since I’ve gone to work, I’ve gotten some experience with the physical toil it takes. Emotions, drama, stress, and repetitiveness didn’t go away when I started working. All of those things just shifted, and now I’m dealing with strangers instead of family. The newness of the job has worn off, and getting up at 5 AM everyday is a huge challenge. And, even though I really want to see my kids after a long day at work, my energy has been completely spent already. I’ve learned to appreciate all that Daniel does for our family.

Daniel has learned the value of sneaking a nap when the kids are napping. With our kids, if you don’t rest when you can, you won’t survive. He has learned that it’s not easy getting everyone dressed and out the door on time. Going to the grocery store is NEVER a quick trip. There is nothing glamorous about cleaning up poop all day every day. The tendency is to belittle stay-at-home moms and think all they do it watch soap operas while hanging out in PJs. Being a stay-at-home dad is even worse! Most people don’t understand. Whether you’re male or female, staying at home with kids is a full-time job!

3. I’ve also learned that I miss staying at home! Crazy, right? After being a SAHM for years, a job should sound like freedom . . . but it doesn’t. I missed all the hugs and kisses. I missed making milestones with them. I typically update facebook with funny things they say or do . . . Now, updates a fewer and farther in between. There is nothing facebook-worthy when you’re stuck with adults. Adults behaving like children is nowhere near as funny as my children being themselves. I miss the meal-planning and coupon-cutting. Now, I’m learning to cherish the time I have with them, because Monday always rolls around too soon.

Isn’t it funny how the grass always seems greener? I’ve learned that the grass is always greener from a distance. Once you get up close, you see all the brown, dead spots. You see that the greenest areas are the weeds or the spot over the septic tank. The most beautiful grass is always the kind that has been watered and taken care of. I guess I’ve learned to make the most out of where I am right now.

Psalm 1 gives us a great example:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

What does changing roles mean for our marriage? In short, nothing. Our marital roles are still the same. I am Daniel’s helpmeet. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” Although I may provide the paycheck now, Daniel is still the one ultimately responsible for taking care of our family. Now, this may sound crazy to you, but it’s true. I don’t know how much money I make. My paychecks go directly into our joint bank account, and Daniel handles where the money goes from there. I may work, but he is still the one in complete control of our finances. That doesn’t mean we don’t discuss purchases, because we still talk about things. But it provides this awesome feeling of freedom for me – I don’t worry about paying the bills or making ends meet. I do my job, Daniel handles the rest. I know not all marriages can work like that, but it’s a huge blessing to me that ours does.

Since Daniel is still the head of our household, I have to be sure I don’t use my new role to emasculate him. Genesis 3:16 says, “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.'” Because of the introduction of sin into the perfect world God had created, women would no longer be content in their role as a wife. It’s our fleshly nature to want to rule over our husbands. That goes directly against how God designed us to be. By switching roles in our house, I have to be extra mindful of my flesh and desire to be in control. My job must always be second to my family.

It takes two to tango. While I attempt to serve and respect my husband, he is to still love me like Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). That means, when I’m at my worst, he still has to be willing to die for me. He is commanded to love me consistently, without conditions, and passionately . . . especially when I don’t deserve it. Knowing myself, I’d say that’s much harder than being submissive.

The final thing that hasn’t changed since I began my job is the fact that I’ll still talk his ear off every day. Hey, maybe this blog will be a reprieve for him! (Or maybe he’ll miss my talking . . . You never know. Stranger things have happened. I’ll let you know when I figure out what one of those things is.)

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