My parents praised my husband for changing his working hours. He does the nursery pick ups, takes Wednesday afternoons off so he gets an afternoon just him and the boy. People we’ve just met tell me how lucky I am to have a man that is so involved.
Nobody congratulates me for taking a year off. For working 4 standard days instead of my preferred long 5. The boy is ours; the choices are ours. The language is decades behind; the language exactly reflects how it feels to be a working mother. Not a working parent: men are expected.
When we were young and silly, my husband’s friends would put an arm around my shoulder, march me away, call to him that he’d done too well for himself. Striver and settler roles were laughingly established. He used to complain, but his pride was visible and smug.
Now women look at him greedily on days he does both halves of the nursery pick up. He sometimes cooks; he half heartedly cleans.
I am lucky to have my husband because he is amazing. He is a rock, my companion, my best friend. But we are decades behind in our language. 5 years ago he was the lucky one because I was young and pretty; now I am the lucky one because he enables (or allows? My first word was allows…) me to have an almost equal partnership in the work side of the work/life balance.