I am entering the final days of my time as a stay-home mum. When the Australian Semester starts next week, I move from being the primary carer to being the primary bread winner. My partner, will be going to university to finally finish his undergraduate degree and will be taking over the primary carer duties.
I’m feeling very feminist. It will be good for my girls to see their father be responsible for making sure they get to school on time, organise the household, feed, clothe, exercise and play with them, and keep on top of life’s “admin”.
A key advantage for my daughters will be that their domestic life knowledge will be broadened. For too long our homes have been related to femininity. As Ahmed writes, being feminine has stuck itself to being domestic, and that relationship is very hard to “unstick”. I have written previously that we can’t expect daughters to be emancipated from domesticity if mothers do not model. Lefebvre argues that the site of social revolution is often concentrated on the workplace, but the home is the site where the the cultural values which underpin the social order are established, scaffolded and strengthened.
So, I’m feeling very feminist….well…I want to feel feminist about it.
To be honest I’m terrified. Not of the responsibility of bringing in the finances (well maybe a bit), but that my life’s project is being handed over to another manager.
I hesitate to economise domesticity, but in a society where domestic labour is considered inferior to financially rewarding labour, I think it’s ok for this blog. Furthermore, if I am going to use Lefebvre’s form of Marxism as a conceptual framework, to think in economic terms is useful.
For the past seven years, as soon as I fell pregnant with my eldest daughter, I became the CEO of my life’s work. I have worked out how to run a relatively functional household where everyone is treated semi-equitably and everyone is healthy, clothed and learning about life. We have bodies and objects which are the tangible output of this project. We have an economy of care which endows these bodies and objects with value. In other words, I have created a home (that often looks like a trash heap, but we feel good in it) and it’s our little slice of heaven. If I was writing a selection criteria, I would say it is proof of my ability to run a long term project.
Now I am handing management of that project over to another. It’s driving me mental with anxiety. I will have no time or energy to micromanage and my partner will DEFINITELY not approach the project with the same techniques. We are different people and the reason we work as a couple is because we are nothing alike. We complement each other.
I also believe that if I micro manage him, I am not enacting the feminist project. I am not “unsticking” myself from domesticity.
What I do believe is that my partner and I have a shared vision. The company that is our family and home might run slightly differently but it doesn’t mean we will be less successful as a group. And I am not leaving the family, I am just taking on a new role that is essential to supporting the home we all share.
So as I walk into next week, I feel very feminist, despite my trepidation. What tips can you give me?
How have you dealt with reversed roles?