Babies and the gender divide



I’m sure it’s biological.  Or maybe evolutionary.  (Is there a difference?)


Small babies divide us so cleanly down gender lines making sure we ‘stay apart’ long enough that children are spaced evenly, I’m sure of it.  And yes, I realise this mustn’t be the case for all couples, after all there are those crazy ones out there with little people who are near 9 months apart, but for the most of us those first two years must be divisional for a reason.


It was definitely a shock to me first time round.  Hell who am I kidding, it’s been a shock this time round as well, because, you know, I thought I had it so figured out this time.


Brought up on a diet of ‘girl power’ and the lie belief that men and women are completely equal and each one can do exactly what the other can.  Well I call bulls**t to that.  Because until men learn how to grow and birth babies, right from the start when it comes to parenting; we’re on uneven ground.  Maybe even different planets. Mars and Venus or whatever –maybe I should actually read that book?


And I know it’s not even just about the breastfeeding.  Because like I ranted wrote about here, even if I wasn’t, the gender lines are still boldly drawn for the first two years or so.  Maybe forever, I don’t know.  I’m only up to the third year of parenting, I’m only assuming life ever goes back to how it was.


Prior to children we both had full time careers with similar incomes, we both had our own interests outside of work and each other, we both had social lives with together friends and our own friends and we had a pretty even divide of housework, (maybe still skewed a little in my direction but I put that off as something that bothered me and not him, and something he didn’t even notice – how do they not see the mess!?)  And possibly most significantly, we could both do whatever it was we pleased, whenever we wanted.


Then you go and have a baby who wedges himself between you physically and metaphorically  and suddenly the gender lines get drawn.  He keeps on keeping on, mostly as he did before except with a little less sleep and with a wife who is a little more grumpy and a squirming drooling bundle to hold at random intervals when dinners need to be cooked and the like.  Whilst the woman ends up doing all the same things she would have been doing prior to the feminist revolution, except with a little more attitude (maybe?!) because no longer is it just assumed that these are the roles, these are the roles we step into.  It feels like it should be voluntary, our choice, until you realise, it isn’t; it just makes sense, it’s just how it is.


But… then there’s the problem of the ol’ brain that is used to being equal.  Who was told all along that you can do everything they can.  And it’s kinda a hard pill to swallow when you realise that you can’t.  And you’re not.  Not at this stage of life anyway.  You can’t go out whenever because little people need you for food and sleep and comfort and for holding that little bit of fat on the underside of your arm when they’re upset (what?! your kid doesn’t do that?!)


So maybe gender roles weren’t socially created after all.  Maybe they were biological all along and we were simply doing what was natural.  Paleo-parenting anyone? 


And this is not to say the men aren’t there offering help whenever they can.   But there is just something between babies and their Mama’s, isn’t there?  Or maybe it’s just babies and the person they spend the most time with? Maybe if the Dad were home all day the roles would be flipped?  Andrew and I were talking about this the other day.  About how and why our relationship is so much harder when babies are little.  About how I struggle with the inequality of it all.  But unlike last time, this time I’m able to distance myself from it a bit more.  I can see that it’s unequal, but I’m ok with it.  (For the most part anyway, I do tend to get a bit down and cranky about it if I’m running low on sleep.  But I also get cranky about things like too much noise, crumb covered floors and not-hot-enough coffee when I’m running low on sleep, so…)


So maybe the problem isn’t the gender lines after all.  Maybe the problem is our over-thinking little brains that want to burn bras and forge careers, whilst our hearts just want to hold our babies close at home?  Our own internal conflict that we play out with our partners, because, you know, it’s less crazy than arguing with yourself.  


Do you find the gender divide stronger since having children? Do you struggle with it too?

2 Responses to “Babies and the gender divide

  • Yes yes yes! I’ve been struggling with this exact thing the last few weeks. It wasn’t so bad when we were on a 2 month road tripping holiday across Australia because we were both on baby duty. But we haven’t even been home a month and reality has definitely sunk in. Life goes on just about as normal for Dad but domesticity is sometimes hard for me. I have also probably been watching too much Mad Men, I feel like that’s my reality at the moment.

      8 years ago

      I’m so glad im not the only one who struggles with this. Some days it drives me crazy! X

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