Monday, August 27, 2007

What's Equity?

Khubz was asleep and so it was time for the talk.
You know. That talk.

I am committed to mothering with a woman who is in the PhD program. She's working more-than-full time in a more-than-full-time job with plenty of evening obligations. She has deeply held moral beliefs about maintaining low levels of clutter in the house.

It means that we occasionally have a dialogue like this.

Scully: " I know you've had her all day & have things you need to get done, but I have to go to this program tonight. I'm sorry. I feel really guilty and miss you both. I know it's not fair. . ."

FFemme: "Stop. Stop right there. Say that last sentence again." Deep breath. "It just helps me to hear you say it." Exhale.

Now, I am certainly not a card-carrying member of the "Everything should be fair" club. I think the whole idea of "fair" is crap, actually, because it assumes we all have the same needs. Is it fair that I got a new car and Scully didn't. No. Except that my old car was on its way out & her truck is humming along. Is it fair that I have Fridays off and she works Fridays? No. Except that it supports what we both want for our daughter. Is it fair that Scully has a massive amount of reading to do because she is taking two classes both of them research classes? No. Is it fair that she is locked in a basement on a bright sunny day when Khubz and I are upstairs cavorting with soccer balls, Personal Penguins and the wheels on the bus? Is it fair that I am going to reap many benefits of a PhD without ever having to open the chronicle of higher education (unless I'm using it to paper Khubz's pinata?)

Remember that guy who said "Expecting life to be fair is like a vegetarian expecting the bull not to charge at him."

So there is no fair. I don't expect there to be "fair." I do not define equity as "you put the cherub to bed one night. I put her to bed another night." Equity has to have a new meaning: we both do as much as we possibly can and try to take care of this family we have made. Rules for this new definition

  • Stop counting. That pretends that mothering is a series of comparable activities that can be divided up anyway. And it doesn't seem to be.
  • Don't pretend. Acknowledge that things aren't "fair" in ways that work in my favor and in ways that piss me off.
  • Remember that the magic closet isn't magic. Just because I don't see something, doesn't mean it isn't happening. All I see is that the closet always has clean, neatly folded towels in it. I don't see the towels being gathered up, taken downstairs, sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away. All I see there are always towels when I need one. There are all sorts of ways to contribute to our household. Many of those are invisible (especially once they're done.) This is true for the unseen things I do as well as the things Scully does that I don't see.
  • Extend the gratitude. We are grateful to the universe that we have Khubz. We should thank each other more.
  • Believe, for real, that the other person is doing as much as they can. Really. Try. Try really, really hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. When you can't maintain this belief resist the urge to violate rule # 1. Also, resist the urge to be too rule-oriented.
  • Finally, give each other more grace. For when it all goes to hell.

But when I'm tired and when I have been repeatedly vomitted upon for the last three days a small voice, almost like a 3-year-old, wells up inside me. It's not fair! Luckily for both Scully and me, I didn't kick the couch as I had my fit.

Even as I write this Scully has taken our poor child to the doctor. They agreed that she has a low grade fever, running nose and confirmed that the vomit is likely from swallowing so much mucus. With that, they sent them home. "Can't help you. Feel better!"

It seems I'll have to share that "surprised vegetarian being gored by a bull" story with Khubz sooner than I thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love hearing about our "discussions?" Scully