My husband, Arya, is the type of person who does everything on his own. He works, makes money, cleans after himself, helps take care of our son, and rarely asks for help around the house. A true un-patriarchal husband/father.
Sounds perfect, eh? True. But he expects the same from me.
Before marrying him, I spent most of my life having live-in hired help. Now our cleaning lady comes and goes and has Sundays off.
Two weeks after labour, he asked me when I plan to get back to work. He says lounging around the house and breastfeeding is not a healthy lifestyle.
He does support me on all levels - motherhood, career, education. But on the other hand he also expects me to run as fast as I can on all levels - personal and professional.
He is not amused when I am idle.
There are moments when I am just about to break down and feel that I have had enough. I breastfeed, bathe, prepare food, feed Malik, prepare presentations, write, research, read, budget annual financial estimation for our household. The list goes on.
This morning, after feeding, bathing, preparing Malik's diaper bag, washing & sterilizing his bottles, opening & locking the gate for Arya (since we have no help) - it began to rain. And I snapped.
Though these moments will always come and go, I know the habits to which I have 'compromised' to adopt have more pros than they do cons.
Although it's undeniably more tiring, I whine less over small things and have higher stress tolerance. I am used to doing things myself and I hope one day this will give Malik a good example.
And although Arya sets very high standards on me, he also takes care of his end of the deal. He takes care of Malik when I'm occupied (you name it, diaper-changing, bathing, clipping his nails, calming him when he's crying, feeding him, putting him to sleep - there is literally nothing I can do that he can't (aside from producing breastmilk)). After working 10 hours and accidentally breaking a plate, he picks up a broom and mop and cleans up the mess. No whining. He is willing to work around his schedule if I need to work, so that Malik has a stand-by parent (we also don't have a full-time nanny).
Sometimes, when I'm extremely exhausted, I ask myself if things have to be this hard. We can actually afford to hire more help, albeit lose more privacy. But when I think of Malik and what kind of life skills I want him to be equipped with - I am reminded of the person Arya is and how independent he is despite the fact that most males in Indonesia are taken care of instead taking care of themselves. How unconventional he is and how this relates to his strong character. How this may relate to decisiveness, agility and perseverance.
And at those moments I always decide that all of this is worth it. Not for me, but for my child(ren).
I am extremely grateful that I have Arya as my life partner. I can honestly say that I highly doubt I would be able to do all of these things while maintaining my stress level if it weren't for him. And I do hope that Malik gains the best of both worlds.
I love you, Arya.