Sunday, December 11, 2005


Sometimes, people at work call my husband Saint, because he does things they think I ought to do: laundry, cooking, staying home with the kids when they get sick. Eight years of breadwinning is hard to undo. Many times, I have nothing left for home.

Sometimes, people say my children have such long days. And the other listeners nod, then they all look at me. Their waiting for my defense, even though I’m already presumed guilty. Yes, their days are long. They have gone to childcare where I teach since they were only weeks old. I pumped my milk in storage closets, I visited during breaks, I taught them how to see me and not care when I left again. For them I’m always around, but not always there.

Saint is out of town, so of course the littlest gets sick. I high fever, moaning in his sleep. I am at a loss. The nurse on call asks how much he weighs and I have no idea, cannot even guess. Daddy took them to their last check up, I explain. Silence. His face is burning, cheeks flame. I feel like I’m in a movie as I wring cool compresses. When will the medicine kick in?

At 3 o’clock he climbs into my bed, his sister is already there. I am sandwiched between what I most love. Her feet kick, he’s burning up again – love hurts. He takes another dose, washes it down with juicy, then throws it all up. His look: amazement. Like he never knew his body could do that. When we’re all cleaned up, he wants to watch Dora, then again, whatever he says goes.

Saint was at a dinner along the River Walk, his job forges ahead. I should be grateful, we are in the white light that shown at the end of eight years of grad school. Less and less he will earn the title of sainthood, become the dad he is supposed to be, and I the mom.


Blogger Michelle e o said...

There are no saints, no sinners, no mom or dad "roles" in this game. We are parents, we do what we do, we love them, we teach them, we take care of them. I'm not trying to belittle what your husband has done and does for your family. But to call him a saint for it clearly tells me we still have a long way to go. I find the biggest judges, unfortunately are other women.

You built the house, he cared for it. You provided the shoes, he tied them. This makes you a good mother as much as him a good father.

The difference is women feel a sense of guilt because of what society sees as roles, what we were taught.

I stayed home with my first two children, now I take my 2 year old to work with me. It makes me no less or more of a mother than you. It certainly doesn't mean I love my children more.

It simply means as parents we have evolved into a day of choices, necessity and more importantly understanding and enough love to break the boundries. The fake rules set a long time ago that tricked us into thinking things were supposed to be a certain way.

Sainthood is not measured in hours or days or loads of laundry, but within the deep pocket of the love we have. At the end of the day we love them. We love them, we love them all the same.

1:31 PM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Exactly my thoughts Michelle - when he changed diapers he was praised - when I did - it was simply expected. The role thing has been on my mind lately, especially when he is gone and I relaize how much we depend upon each other to raise two kids. I have infinite respect for single parents . . .

1:43 PM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger Rae Pater said...

the joys of living in a patriarchal society. Sux doesn't it?
For you wee man who's sick, sponging down all over with luke warm water will help cool him down, and giving him regular doses of paracetomol will lower his temperature until he's better (you probably already know this, but just in case).

3:56 PM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thanks Rae - it really does! Liam is better today - the nurse-on-call was quite helpful after she got over the fact that I didn't know how much he ways (30 pounds btw). Luckily, it was not the flu. I was giving him Motrin, which is what made him throw up, so I switched to Tylenol (same as paracetomol?) Thanks for the sympathy and help.

4:23 PM, December 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

eWhat an insightful write. Michelle's comments are also.She should post her comment on her blog. You and Craig offer a wonderful model for your children. They watch you make choices, without regard to gender or what others may think. Together,you decide what is best for your family, recognizing that what is best changes with time. Incredible lessons to be shared someday with your grandchildren, who hopefully will make choices without judgment by others.

The line that grabbed me was "eight years of breadwinning is hard to undo." Glad you have found an outlet that renews you.

Thought of you this weekend while Liam was sick. Glad he is better. Caring for sick children can be exhausting. Hope you can take care of you today.

8:45 AM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Thank you anon. - L stayed home today eventhough his fever is gone for extra R & R. I agree that Michelle - as well as your comments - are insightful.

3:26 PM, December 12, 2005  

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