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Reciprocality

June 29, 2011

I laughed out loud when Moxie referred to herself as a wet sandwich, because I feel it, too.  On my worst days, I feel like a panino that someone forgot to take out of the press: squashed flat, burned at the edges, insides reduced to molten incomprehensibility. But once our decision is made—and we’re definitely close—I feel we’ll both be able to punctuate our work with far more optimistic food similes.

That scheduling problem was indeed a doozy, but thanks to Moxie’s proactivity I was able to speak at the Type A Parent conference about—of all things—moms and dad bloggers working together. I’m reasonably certain the overall vibe in that ballroom was that we already sort of are, but I was probably the only one who benefited from a mom blogger who agreed to share a vehicle with his children for 25 hours.

Ever since I started writing about co-parenting, I hear a lot about marriages and co-parenting arrangements that are in the shitter. This is especially true at blogging conferences, and Asheville was no different. A few people asked what our “secret” is, and had to tell them we got nothin’. We’re trying to understand each other day by day, flailing along in the dark most of the time. One thing that did strike me, however, is how our professional lives (and thus, our parenting roles with the kids) have changed over the years since we split. Five years ago I was working full time, and Moxie was the kids’ primary care-giver. Since then, she’s built herself a new career, and now I’m the freelancer who picks the kids up from school every day.

In a one-income family (do those exist anymore?), the WOHP and the SAHP have specific roles with specific benefits—as well as specific stresses and jealousies that can fester if they’re not attended to. Since we’ve both been on both sides of that divide, I think our appreciation for the other is getting better. If she staggers to my place to pick up the kids looking like her workday ran her over and left her for dead, I can sympathize. And when she sees me looking exhausted from all the skirmishes I’ve refereed, she can smile when she says, “Ha! You think this is harder than breastfeeding?”

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 10:12 am

    Very timely post as my husband of 16-years and I review our own roles and strive to understand and support one another. Whew. It “ain’t” easy! 🙂

  2. the milliner permalink
    June 29, 2011 8:45 pm

    From a very outside view, it seems to me that your “secret” is your unwavering commitment to each work out your own sh*t so that it leaves you each open and committed enough to work out co-parenting. I think everyone wants to put their kid(s) first, but it really takes this kind of committment to actually do it. Perhaps this is the secret for us all (married or divorced).

    And yeah, when you can do it, there’s nothing like living in the other person’s shoes to gain appreciation of someone else’s reality.

  3. June 30, 2011 9:58 am

    “I’m reasonably certain the overall vibe in that ballroom was that we already soft of are,”

    ??? Did you mean to say “sort of are”?

    Damn you auto correct……

    • LOD permalink*
      June 30, 2011 10:05 am

      I wish I could blame autocorrect for that, but the truth is lately I’ve forgotten how to type.

      Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. millay permalink
    June 30, 2011 4:36 pm

    Just wanted to chime in and say that I find you both inspiring. Have been reading all along and have just been so impressed by your honesty and openness about such a painful and common subject. It takes real courage to work through this kind of s.tuff, and to be willing to reflect and discuss is above and beyond the call of duty.

    Thanks..

  5. July 24, 2011 11:58 pm

    As a stay-at-home mom for the last 15 years (and a resident and native of Asheville, NC–though I had never heard of you until just now, so I missed your presence here), I can confirm there are one-income households. And, it is not nearly as hard as people think. You’d be amazed at what you can do without and after 15 years there is so much we don’t even think about, nor do our kids (4 boys) because they never had it think about. So, yes, there are still one-income households and we’re not the only dinosaur. Most of my friends chose staying home over careers too–putting careers as surgeons, lawyers, city planners,etc. on hold for kids.. I’m a horticulturalist, the hubs is a forester. So, we’re not weathly, nor do we have weathly parents for back-up. We just figured out what could go and what could stay, and no we don’t live in a yurt–a common question.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      July 25, 2011 7:37 am

      Cinthia, I’m pretty sure LOD wasn’t actually questioning the existence of one-income families. Back when we were married I was a SAHM for 5 years. I think he was trying to point out how weird and tenuous our parenting relationships can be, especially when people don’t have any kind of backup.

    • July 25, 2011 11:15 am

      I was alluding to how many families need two incomes to get by, and that one-income households with a SAHP seem like an enviable minority. But that might be the NYer in me, since so many families I know here have two incomes, over-rely on sitters, and are running in place.

      I can see how things might be different in Asheville, which is so refreshingly beautiful and laid-back. This is one reason I agreed to move: to live like a non-hyper-urbanite.

      Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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