I am still in the midst of wedding thank you cards, and preparing for my brother's wedding in 6 weeks time. Work continues to run ahead of me and the list seems ever longer - instead of shorter.
There is still much to be done in our home - especially in our guest room/office/computer and entertainment room - and some of this is waiting on the next paycheck to be able to afford furniture. But I am very blessed to have a husband who is willing and able to help me around the house.
I know in a traditional sense the house is the wife's domain, and it still predominately is. But it has been nice to know that when I am working flat out and tired, there is someone to help.
And help he does. He is even better at most household tasks (thanks to being raised in a matricarchal household of four boys) than I am! I believe when men are doing something they are happy to do, they really do often excell beyond that which we can do as women. Now I'm not trying to stake a take on feminist theory or anything like that. But there are certain realities of the physical design of the male body - its strength, core muscle power, its generally larger stature, that place men in the position of being able to achieve wonderful things - especially when they actually desire to help.
In my experience, my husband has always (even in the years we were friends before dating), all but tripped over himself to provide for me and to do things with and for me. When we were on our honeymoon in Malaysia, my new husband fell violently ill and spent four days in hospital. It was the first time I had ever seen him (necessarily so) so internally focussed - he is a giver and a provider, and it was almost unnatural for him to be this way. When he gives, he does so willingly and (usually) without keeping score!
During that time I read For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. This book is the result of a large survey that took place for Christian and non-Christian men, inviting them to explore areas of their being, their needs and desires. It was fascinating to see some of the responses that men gave to her questions and I was amazing how much I learned about my husband of only a few days. I am still reaping the benefits of that understanding weeks later. Shaunti explores men's need to provide for their families - something that made me put down my guard about letting my husband help in "my domain" of the household! There are still inner designs that make me more likely to see the pile of washing and him less so (or prehaps we both see it and I am more motivated to do soemthing about it at the time?), but when he can do something for me, it builds him up internally. It is truly inspiring to watch him serve.
In my work with young children I have been taught to treat boys and girls as having the same strengths and skills. I struggle with this, because even from a young age, those behaviours and preferences that we say are only learned, seem to emerge on their own and in very familiar patterns.
The boys do spend more time with the block construction, the way they play with playdough is different, their writing or cognitive tasks like puzzles are often a solitary event, and it is usually more difficult to coerce them in to finishing their Mother's Day craft.
The girls have a more social take on cognitive activities, often selecting to do them together, role-playing games are focussed around family and everyday tasks.
There are expections, everyday and for every child. But those overall patterns still emerge even after years of early childhood settings providing open, inviting expereiences for all children. I struggle to think that our differences are a problem. I truly believe that God created us to complement and strengthen each other's differences.