You fall in love, you move in together, you have children.
Somewhere in the midst of all of that the love bond starts to change into contract negotiations. Wether you want it or not, how much you may want to protect the romantic ideal, you will have to start to work together. Discussing home chores, time off, holidays, leisure time, money. Everything that seemed to arrange itself in the flow of love suddenly is worth fighting over.
When I was pregnant we agreed that we would do fifty-fifty, that we both wanted to have a baby and that we would do it together. No idea of what it would mean to have children. In practical sense and in emotional sense. I, in private, thought that I would have the baby, give it to my husband and mother, and would get back to work. I was too busy to be hanging around all day at home and too ambitious to have any interest in playgrounds or baby clothes. My husband dreamed about days at home with his son, doing man-stuff together.
Once the baby was there I surprised myself: I couldn’t stand if someone else was holding him, he was MINE. And my husband got bored and frustrated of being alone in a mess after a night with not much sleep. So that’s when we – like so many others- started fighting. He wanted to work, I wanted my life back. We needed money, we needed sleep. We needed attention from each other we often didn’t have the energy to give. Our baby was born too small and couldn’t go to day care until he was about a year old. I felt he took away my freedom by taking his. He didn’t see it that way and wasn’t prepared to really give in.
From holding hands in the street and kissing each other passionately on every encounter, we were tired, angry and in constant battle. This wasn’t what we thought it would be, it turned out to be an ongoing negotiation about how we balance life. When we agreed we would do things fifty-fifty, we both seemed to agree that he would have a full blown career and that I would take care of the house, the washing, the dentist appointments and the bills. We were so convinced we knew how it would work. And we are not the only one. I see a lot of people falling into the gap between traditional stereotypes and modern expectations. Some couples manage to keep the love alive, other ones find that personal freedom and career are more important to them.
Three years later we had another baby. Because we still loved each other more than we struggled. And because we still believed in the end of the struggle.
Another three year later I start to think that the struggle may never end. We try to divide the love from the struggle. Keep the love alive. And struggle on the side. I want to make a movie next year. I have no idea how I will do something so time consuming. Not to say life consuming. Maybe in my own time. When the kids are in bed, when we finished talking about our day, when the dog had his walk, when the fridge is full and dinner is cooked, when the weeds are pulled and the plants watered, when the car is fixed and the bills payed, when the beds are made, we all finally had our much needed haircuts and the emails are answered. Maybe then I will find some time to concentrate long continuous hours on my work.
I know I will have to find a new solution. And that means opening the negotiations at home once again and maybe get onto the battle field with someone I don’t want to battle with. Only now after so many years I know that whatever happens, in the end our love will save the day.
PS And if you were wondering about my plans for this evening: