25 January 2016

Daycare, breadwinners, casual racism

When I got pregnant, it was with the intention that I would go back to full time corporate office work after my maternity leave ended, and Quentin (who is self employed) would still do his work (catering/cooking classes/neighborhood butcher/other food related gigs) but LESS of it, and he would mostly be home with the baby, who we would put in daycare only part time, to cover the days that Quentin needed to cover for catering.

Following The Quentin Health Crisis of 2015, he is not working at all, not until after his second surgery at the end of March and subsequent recovery. This is the best (and only) thing for it, although there are reasons it gives him heartburn:
-As a self employed person, this time when he is not out there selling himself and building up clients and rapport makes him feel like when he starts it up again this spring, it will be like starting a business from the bottom again, with the slow build of gigs and recommendations and people who like him and want to pay him to feed their friends.
-He frets about his current lack of financial contribution to our household.
I am not especially bothered by either one of these things. The first I know to be true but there's nothing for it. He can't work right now, therefore he's not working right now. The second is just a total nonstarter. Again, he CANNOT work. There is no sense in fretting about the money he's not making while he's not working. While we were financially strapped and could have used that second line of income while I was on maternity leave, now that I'm back at work my salary more than covers our monthly expenses (covers them, plus will allow us to pay off the credit and medical debt we had to (unexpectedly) rack up this fall).
Well, whatever, that's where we are financially right now: not terrible/doing okay.

Although Quentin is not working, we decided to put Everett in daycare 2 days per week anyway, because:
- that gives Quentin a couple days a week to Get Shit Done Without A Baby
- lets Everett get used to his daycare as a younger baby who adjusts to such things more easily
The other three days per week the baby is with Quentin.
This whole set up is just a joy for everyone involved, I think.
Everett loves his daycare lady. He's happy to see her in the morning, he's happy to see me when I pick him up in the afternoon.
Everett also loves spending the day with his dad.
I (obviously) LOVE Everett, and Gabriel, and Quentin, but I enjoy them a lot more as a working lady.
Being home with the children makes me feel like a madwoman trapped in a tower.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit this or not, but I like going to work every day.
I perhaps would not like it quite so well if Quentin and I both had very demanding office jobs, but because he is more at home (and more flexible in his job once he is back to it), and I don't have to add in all the home stuff to my work life, I dunno, I just really think this is the best.
And Quentin loves being home with the baby. He says there's no better person to spend your day with. They just delight each other. This thing, where I'm the primary breadwinner and he's the primary kid wrangler, is the way for us. We both get to do the thing we are best at and enjoy the most and it makes us both like it all a whole lot more.

Now, having said all that, there is this EXTRA (both extra as in very and extra as in additionally) weird piece, which should not matter, yet it does matter.
Quentin and I are not occupying our stereotyped gender roles, which creates an implicit manliness judgment of my husband from the vast unwashed.
This judgment has an extra layer of ickiness because my husband is a black man and there is a stereotype humming away in there about deadbeats who don't support their families.
And speaking of bullshit racial stereotypes, do you know that Quentin gets hassled when he is out with the baby?
That he has had his car blocked in at the grocery store while a woman photographed him and called the police?
That he carries a copy of Everett's birth certificate with him when he leaves the house, because this is a thing?
That there is a non-zero number of people in our community who think it is more likely that a black man running errands with a more lightly complected baby kidnapped said baby than that a black man has a baby lawfully under his care?
To the credit of our community's police force, they have not found reason to come to the scene of the alleged babynappings, probably because it's not illegal to be out with a baby, and no babies have been reported as napped.

Area Man Cares For Infant

I do not need to tell you that this is bullshit.
And that it makes me very angry.

It also makes me very sad.


  1. The casual racism is disgusting. I feel so bad for you and your family for having to deal with this bullshit in 2016.

    Now, beyond that, I was the primary breadwinner in our family for years. It's only been the past 4 years or so that my husband has started making more than I did. He did a lot of the childcare in the early years, because his work schedule was a PM swing shift. The kids did go to daycare, but after lunch or so. A few days a week, they went full time, so he could get shit done. My house was never cleaner. I felt some guilt going back to work, but not a lot. I craved the adult interaction that the workplace provides.

  2. Am here, glad to see you! Am jaw dropped at the crazyperson who called the police.

  3. Oy. I'm not surprised, because we've had similar things happen in my town but I am really angry and sad for you and for Quentin and the boys. People suck.

  4. It is very sad. I have thought of it many times since seeing it on Twitter.

  5. I absolutely think that we should all both play to our strengths/likes and organize our lives in ways that make for more harmonious and productive living. The idea that all men should be primary breadwinners and women should be homemakers is not only old fashioned but also just crazy. You and Quentin sound like an awesome couple and parents!
    The racism just makes me want to scream, and cry. It makes my blood boil, especially as we are living through this crazy presidential primary season.
    Our unexamined assumptions are so dangerous