I’ve decided that the ideal family ratio is 3 to 1, three adults and one child.
Last week we had friends from Australia stay with us, a wonderful couple, Ryan and Rachel, and their 10 ½ month old daughter, Clara. Amazing people. Total cutie baby. Really fun. Ryan could only stay the weekend, and Rachel and Clara for the rest of the week. What I noticed is not based at all on traditional gender roles because any one of us could have done most of the tasks, but this is how it naturally flowed between Andrew, Rachel, Clara and me…
Andrew worked. He brought in the majority of the income to support us, took us out for coffees and dinners and kept us content. I supplemented the income, drove us to places to keep us entertained during the days, cooked most of the meals and did the picking up and laundry. Rachel took care of Clara, meeting her every need and being an all-around superstar mom. Clara was Clara, adorable, sweet creature who kept our hearts open, feeling the purity of love in the house that only a baby can bring.
It flowed. Rachel and I were overjoyed and surprised by the little things. I came home from working twice and found she’d made soup. Wonderful yummy homemade soup. She was surprised when she noticed the cup of green tea I had placed in front of her when her attention had been on Clara. She said I was like a little elf when she found the piles of onesies I’d washed and folded. Our relaxed foursome allowed me to find an astounding amount of joy in folding onesies, which I’m sure could have felt like an insane drudgery if I was folding onesies all day, every day by myself without the relief of our three-person adult team.
The connection was fantastic. Rachel, Clara and I sat over coffee, tea and breakfast every morning and talked for hours. We connected and shared so much that we kept our men from being overwhelmed by our feminine need to do so. It took the burden off the guys and kept us “fed” in a way neither Rachel nor I are on a daily basis. This is, incidentally, why I loved living with women, built-in friendship and connection. I realize that I need so much more of this than our typical family arrangement provides.
This gets me to our culture’s typical arrangement where every little family unit is an island unto itself. It puts way too much pressure on the parents. Crazy amounts of pressure to be everything and do everything. The village raising the child really made sense. So did living in the community of the tribe.
Again, I don’t say this with traditional gender roles in mind, but I am going to generalize women and men here for the sake of ease and based on last week with who’s who in our scenario... Our current arrangement of the typical family leaves women starving for the company of other women and their men overburdened by the need to be the feminine support system when their woman wants to share her daily experiences and emotional meanderings. We need that, and they need to come home at the end of the day for a little quiet. It sounds awful and blunt but, in a lot of cases, just is. Certainly, this is one of the things that Rachel and I shared extensively during our morning musings.
Three adults and one child worked. It’s an oversimplification, of course, because all the partnership parts of it were left out that would complicate everything because who’s with whom and all that. For the sake of my noticing though and having a really amazing experience with these fabulous people and being so fed and cared for by our arrangement, it gave a flow of ease and love, and it just worked.
It also awakened puppy fever in me again which Andrew and I are walking through now, and seems to be an amusing side effect of having a baby in the house for week.