Every once in awhile, my husband and I will have a conversation that leaves me wondering if we're on the same page. I go to bat for him all the time as he's an amazing, hands-on dad who also likes to vacuum and wash dishes. When people dis on dads, I point to him and say, "Nuh uh! See! Amazing!" But then something falls out of his mouth and one of my eyebrows does an insta-raise and I think, "Wait, what?" I had one of those moments recently when he got all "women belong in the kitchen, barefoot, and if not pregnant, baking me a pie" on me.
Okay, so maybe he didn't use those exact words, but my eyebrow definitely twitched. It went down like this:
"If we win a multi-million dollar lottery, we'll buy that mansion." The horses were grazing in the fenced in area in front of the monstrosity, the picture perfect scene sitting behind a "For Sale" sign.
"But I don't want the boys to go to that elementary school."
"We'll send them to the private Catholic school!"
I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. We've both been champions of the public school system in all of our previous conversations, so this was kind of confusing to me. I went along with it however, finding something to argue with -- as usual.
"Oh, I don't want to drive them to and from school every day!
And then he dropped the bomb on me.
"Well, you won't be working anyway, so you'll be free to drive them!"
Insert the sound of silence here. Crickets chirping. Pins dropping. Jaws cracking because they fell so fast, so hard. My normally feminist husband didn't even have a glint in his eye; he wasn't purposefully trying to press my buttons to see my reaction. He meant what he said.
For a moment, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we would both quit working. The idea of him no longer running into burning buildings seemed quite happy in my mind. I imagined us traveling more, doing things together both far and near. Oh yes, with our kids too. So, I asked, "Well, will you keep working?
"Yes, yes I will."
The silence continued. Briefly. Then I got all kinds of ranty.
"So you're telling me that you get to work while I chauffeur our newly rich children around and that's it?"
He began back-pedaling. Quickly. Talk about finally having time to write my book. Jokes tossed at random. "You know I'm joking, right?" A look of fear in his eyes. I squinted at him before looking out my window.
I don't hate the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. I do hate the idea of it being assumed that I wouldn't still like to work -- inside or outside the home -- if we became wealthy. I do hate the idea of trading one kind of work -- paid work as an editor -- for another kind of work -- free work as a mom -- without it being my decision. And that's the point, I think: It needs to be my decision. Or really, our decision. It was our decision when we picked a babysitter. It was our decision when I decided to work from home. It's been a mutual decision every time I've made a move in my career as my career choices affect our family.
We talked more later. We laughed. He made nice, and I let it go. Mainly because we didn't win the lottery; he went to work the next morning, as did I. Life goes on in our household.
But the question remains, not just for our household, but for yours: If you won the lottery, would you keep working? Would your partner? Does your partner assume that you would quit working? Have you assumed that your partner would quit -- or keep -- working? Have you had these conversations?
Photo Credit: piratejoe.
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