One of the hardest parts of leaving San Antonio years ago was moving away from my best friend Stephanie. Stephanie and I met when we were in the 4th grade, but after I moved around the country with my family we didn’t become close friends until I moved back to San Antonio in the 10th grade. Stephanie and I were quickly inseparable and I was even able to live with her my senior year of high school when my parents moved again with the Air Force.
As I’ve mentioned before, Stephanie has Cystic Fibrosis. I strive to love her from afar and to make the most of our times together, but I’ve always told Stephanie I am a phone call away. A couple of weeks ago my mom encouraged me to come to San Antonio to spend some time with Stephanie and I didn’t think twice. I called Neal right away and without hesitation Neal said he was happy to watch Magnolia so that I could go to spend time with Stephanie. My parents moved back to San Antonio after my Dad retired a few years ago, so it’s an added bonus to see my family when I travel back.
After arriving in San Antonio my friends quickly asked where Neal and Magnolia were. Most responded saying, “that’s so awesome that Neal is watching Magnolia for you” and a few were quick to say “OMG, there’s no way my husband would watch my kid for 6 days so that I could travel”. Heck, even my dad said, “do you know how lucky you are?”.
I know I’m lucky and I tell Neal all the time that I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have him as my partner in crime. Neal and I have each other’s back. I’m happy to run the house when he travels to Iowa for his writing or when he’s working for the DC Divas. In the same way, he’s happy to man the fort if I need to travel for business or pleasure or just need a night out with friends. I’m so thankful to be married to a man who isn’t afraid to break supposed norms and that we both see the balance we create in our marriage, our household, and our family.
Neal and I are far from perfect and we’re always working on our communication. We’re polar opposites. I’m an extrovert and Neal’s an introvert. I’m a realist and Neal’s an optimist. I’m a spender and Neal’s a saver. I’m a workaholic and Neal naturally creates healthy boundaries. I can’t stand to sit around the house all day and Neal is happy as a clam hanging out at home with no plans. I’m an early riser and Neal could sleep until 11AM. We see things differently all the time and often agree to disagree. In the end though, we quickly realized that in order to both work full time, to have a family, to maintain our own hobbies and passions, and to keep our personal wellness a priority we’d need to have each other’s backs and we’d both need to step into nontraditional roles.
It surprised me how shocked some of my friends were that Neal kept Magnolia home while I traveled to Texas, but Neal knew I need the focused time with Stephanie and my family and he was confident in his ability to manage everything while I was away. Trust me, we both hate when the other person is away, but we’ve both realized how important it is to the other person to bear more of the weight at times. We still wear our semi-traditional hats, but I’m thankful we can both break the norms at times and do what’s best for our marriage and family.
Has anyone ever been surprised by and nontraditional role you or a loved one plays? Woman being the primary breadwinner? Stay at home dad?