Who wears the family money pants?
The idea of who wears the pants in our family has always been a joke, as all four of us only wear pants.
I do make the lion’s share of the money though, and have for about 15 years now. We didn’t plan this, but as our family established itself, my husband Andreas and I veered naturally into what worked best, given our personalities and responsibilities.
I hate lifting and love business. Andreas loathes corporates, but doesn’t mind shopping. I enjoy managing people, while Dreas loves learning and getting his hands dirty.
As this has been such a natural process for us, we still get a little taken aback by how other people react.
‘Doesn’t it make your husband feel insecure with the fact that you support the household?’ acquaintances will say. ‘Don’t you feel like you have to take on more than is fair, being the mother AND the breadwinner?’
‘It’s so wonderful that you are such an involved father,’ mothers will say to my husband as he does the daily school lifts. ’ Where is their mother, by the way? Are you divorced? We only see her at evening functions…’
Okay, these comments are quite far on the bitchy sides of the spectrum, but you see what I mean.
It has got better as we have got older though. These days, the comments are more around ‘Don’t you resent it?’ or ‘do you feel you’ve missed out by not being the hands-on parent?‘. And they are fewer and farther between.
The truth? Of course I resent it. After a bad day, when I’m tired and can’t see what could possibly not be horrible about the day ahead. As does Dreas, when I am on an overseas trip and the kids are sharing a cold and the plumbing’s backed up.
Of course I feel a pang when we go to the school and Andreas knows the names of all the kids and parents, and I only know a handful. And of course Andreas feels inadequate when I get a bonus we really, really need.
But I firmly feel this is the way it’s supposed to be. Relationships are balanced when you both feel you are doing less than your partner and a little guilty about it. It doesn’t matter what sex you are, it matters whether you are using your talents in a way that you’re getting the best out of both of you… teaching your children to tackle partnerships in the same way.
My favourite writer, Ursula K Le Guin once said: ‘While one person can’t do two jobs, two people can do three.’ And the more ways we find to make this work, the better off we all are.