Inspired by Dean Dad's Valentine's Day post (well, maybe more by some of the comments, though the post itself was very sweet), I've decided to tell you a heartwaming story about how Middlebrow and I got together (exactly 10 years ago!).
First let me say that we went on three dates before we even kissed. On date three, we talked about couples we admired, people who seemed to have genuine partnerships and equality. We talked about how we didn't want to be like our parents (his still married, mine divorced and married to new partners), mostly because we didn't like the imbalance we observed. Among the people we admired were professors in the department where we were both graduate students. One couple we liked for their choices: one car, they took turns cooking and caring for their children, and they both were (are) successful in their respective fields. That, we said, was how we wanted to be. Let me remind you, we hadn't even kissed yet!
Maybe a week or so after we actually kissed, it was Valentine's Day. We agreed that we were against it, Middlebrow mostly because of his employment at a grocery store where, on February 14th, he saw man after man come through his line with a card and a bunch of flowers. Original. So though we don't celebrate this holiday (that is, after all, just another way for companies to get you to buy their products), I'm always reminded that we "got together," as the euphemism goes, right around this time.
It's mind boggling to think that we started dating 10 years ago. (Just for the record, we got engaged after we dated for four months, though I lied and told my parents it had been six months and we got married after we had been engaged for a year). We got engaged after we had the "what are we doing next year?" talk in the kitchen of my apartment. I said something like "I'm not living with someone ever again unless I'm married." We had already decided we wanted to go to graduate school. The next day we were grading papers in a cafe and Middlebrow looked at me and said, "What happened last night? Did we decide to get married?"
But looking back, we have done most of what we talked about on that third date. We finished graduate school, sharing the childcare the whole time. We both have jobs, and we still split the childcare (though I have to say that, lately, Middlebrow has done more than I have). We both cook and do laundry (though, of course, I think I do more of both); Middlebrow does all the man things like killing spiders and plunging toilets and fixing bathrooms.
But, all in all, we have a very equal arrangement. We both like to sit around and read. We like to drink wine and watch movies. Is this not, I ask you, the basis of all good relationships?
And just a note in response to some of those comments over at Dean Dad: some women want to stay home with their kids. I know many women who do and are perfectly content. I'm just not one of those people. But I'm glad I could make the choice I did, and I'm glad I found a person who wanted to make those same choices. This, to me, is one of the great rewards of feminism: we get to invent what we want home, marriage, and family to mean to us. Not that we judge women who make choices we would not make. But that support exists for women to make a variety of choices, and that we support and facilitate each other's choices. (I recognize not all women are free to choose. And we work to change that. But some women are free to choose. And we support that.)
On that note: Happy Valentine's Day!!