Wednesday, May 19, 2010

parenting and gender equality

Andre, six hours old.

I believe in gender equality when it comes to parenting. When I talk about gender equality, I don't mean that the roles of the parents should be equal but rather that the workload should be. For some, this means that one parent stays at home and cares for the children while the other works outside of the home. For Alain and I, it means that we both work outside of the home and share the child rearing responsibilities.

When I met Alain I "screened" him for his equal partner potential. Did he believe in equal child rearing responsibilities? Did he support the idea of both parents working outside of the home? He passed with flying colors and we were married three years after we met.

To my surprise, perhaps I was naive?, parenting equality was different from what I expected straight from the beginning. The day I became pregnant was the day I became a mom. Prenatal vitamins, a healthier diet, adapted exercise routine and regular checkups became my parental responsibilities.Nausea, dizzines, fatigue, weight gain, and all sorts of body changes became my companions. During the nine months of pregnancy, we both prepared the house for a newborn, adjusted our finances and took prenatal classes. But Alain became a dad nine months later than I did.

Even after Luca was born, the disparity was apparent. I was away from my job for six weeks, neglecting clients and important projects no matter how supportive and helpful my boss and coworkers were. I was also recovering physically from pregnancy and birth, experiencing back pain, breast pain, headaches and overall changes. My choice to breastfeed also meant that I alone was responsible for nourishing our child, which translated into either being in close proximity to the baby or to a pump at all times. 

Alain during that time was an outstanding father and partner. Supportive, helpful, loving. But no matter how hard he tried, he could not take on my load. I am female and the physical role of having a child is not the same as the father's. I know this may sound obvious, but I did not quite understand it until I experienced it. I was better prepared for Andre. I knew what to expect, and I knew it would eventually end.

Would I trade spaces with Alain? Not in a million years. I'd rather have extra responsibilities during the first year than miss out on the miracle of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Would you trade with your children's father?


  1. i had similar experiences when my daughter was born and i just had to come to terms with it. there are great things about being the mom, but there is also some extra work involved!

  2. Yeah, no matter how many books you read or how many women you know while they are having their children, nothing really prepares your brain to fully absorb and process all that pregnancy and motherhood entail. All the wonderful, tiring, details.

  3. You are right! I guess this is a process we learn by doing rather than thinking.

  4. You look pretty good after giving birth!

  5. Thanks, Fran. I wore mineral make-up and, most importantly, had anti-redness eye drops. Oh, and it helps that the pic is black and white!

  6. Hi Licia!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog on my Supernatural Childbirth post (

    I agree with you where you said "I'd rather have extra responsibilities during the first year than miss out on the miracle of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding"!

  7. Hi Full-time Mummy,
    I am sure many of us agree... no matter how sleep deprived we might be!