I Went From Breadwinner To Bread Maker And I’m Loving It
By Debbie King, SupafitMama
Photo © Cathy Yeulet/123RF
Nov 2, 2017
My liberal attitude toward work and gender roles was heavily influenced by my mother.
At the centre of our two-bedroom apartment, beneath the swirling ceiling design, sat a bevelled glass dining table. And at the head of that table sat my mother. Every day, I saw her inch the upholstered chair back, take a seat and settle in for the tasks at hand: peeling potatoes, writing cheques, checking homework or meeting clients. Like that solid, all-encompassing table, my mother handled everything.
But what would I be when I grew up? Anything I wanted, as far as I was concerned. Nothing was off the table.
Growing up, there was no distinction between "men's work" and "women's work" in our home. The only division of labour to speak of was the domestic work my mother did inside, versus the occupational work she did outside the apartment.
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Of the two, housework impressed me the least. Cooking, cleaning and laundry seemed nothing more than bothersome chores that encroached on weekend fun. But balancing the chequebook? Now, that I was into! I leaned over the table, calculating along in my head as she carried numbers from column to column in the small ledger.
Even more appealing was my mother's work outside the home. Monday through Friday, she'd sweep her hair into a french roll, button her freshly pressed blouse, take me to school, then head to the office for a purposeful day writing personal insurance policies. That was what I wanted to be (minus the insurance part): an attentive mother and career woman with a sophisticated 'do.
Today, I'm married with a child. I also have a career and great hair of my own. As for gender roles, I don't care who makes the bread, as long as there's food on the table.
For years, I was the breadwinner while my husband assumed more of the household duties and childcare. Groceries, laundry and after school pick-up were his domain. Finances, birthdays and morning school drop-off were mine. Homework, dinner and bathtime were divided based on my work schedule.
Now the tables have turned. My husband has a full-time office job and I'm freelancing from home. I've gone from breadwinner to bread baker and guess what? I'm loving it!
Yes, I'm actually baking bread. Banana bread to be exact. Muffins and cookies, too. I still don't love cooking but baking with my daughter after school is great. Apart from the time together, we get a quality math lesson and healthy homemade snacks!
And as it turns out, cleaning and laundry feel like way less of a chore when I tuck them between emails and writing assignments, rather than deferring it all to the weekend.
I'm still passionate about my career, but I've embraced this domestic role in a way I hadn't anticipated. I've taken ownership of the entire household operation, bringing well-honed planning and organization skills to the table.
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As a partner, it feels good to support my husband as he has for me. And as a mother, I appreciate being more present during this stage of school-age parenting where my strength as a teacher shines.
I'm sure the balance between household and occupational work will shift again. For now, my husband, daughter and I are all loving the change. I'm happy to work from home, for as long as it works for our home. Most of all, I love that my daughter sees work balanced in different ways.