Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bagels and Tacos

I'm trying to face a few fears today. The source of those fears is old, going back a couple of years for me. It is about how preparing for and hosting a party reflects on women far more than it does on men in our culture, and how I personally - despite all my ESP beliefs - grip tightly to this responsibility. Marc has to practically pry it from me with force. Yes, I'm the Head Party Planner - I'll admit. I generally enjoy it - and it would be acceptable for me to hold onto this job if my intentions were as noble as my own enjoyment. But they aren't. I keep control because I doubt Marc's competence and because I want things done to my standards. I toil, I direct, I stress. So not ESP!

I think the problem began with the bagels. Marc comes from a big family that lives nearby, and every month they all gather together at a different house to hang out, catch up and celebrate all the birthdays that fall during that month. We usually host this event twice a year. One year, we planned a brunch followed by inline skating at a nearby park. In preparing, I envisioned a plentiful feast - perhaps French toast, fruit salad, scones, sausage. Marc, alas, said with all sincerity, "I think we have a few bagels in the freezer already. That should be enough." AHHHHHGGH.

Then there was the year we hosted the family with a Mexican themed buffet. I took over and the feast was indeed plentiful. I even insisted Marc go to the store the night before for emergency taco shells - a few extra boxes just in case. The meal turned out plentiful alright. So plentiful, in fact, that we ate tacos for months afterward without leaving the house. Marc still recounts with glee the sheer volume of taco shells left over after the last guest departed. We may still have some. Oops.

Okay, so perhaps together we can get it right? No. I still hold on, fearing a bagel famine and subsequent embarrassment as the hostess of record.

I know this is silly, especially with such a forgiving audience as Marc's own family. So, I'm facing those fears now. This weekend is another such gathering at our house. It's another brunch, with bagels on the menu in fact. But I'm choosing a new path...I'm honest-to-God turning over the party planning to Marc. Days are ticking by - there is no to-do list in sight, no groceries have been purchased, the house is hardly party-clean.

Calm down, breathe deep. I can do it. What's the worst that can happen? These people love us, and they aren't expecting tarte tatin with homemade quince and sour cherry compote (gee, that sounds good...). They know Marc lives here too, and I know they won't really judge me if the food runs out (but why, oh why, not just buy extra in case?). I trust the house will be clean enough (probably). I know all of these things are true - truer than any of my worries. I know it is important for me to let go because I don't want social expectations to rule me. I know this is a really good experiment for me.

Wait a minute. I do know what is the worst thing that could happen! It could be that I never really let go. With gritted teeth, I nag Marc to remember this and think of that, and never give him the space to do this his way. I guarantee myself that Party Planner title for life. And miss out on the fact that I could actually relax and let it happen.

Wish me luck!


Blogger mom said...

Oh Amy, yes -- this must be the last frontier of letting go...

Be brave and know that others far less brave are watching!

On a technicality - couldn't you agree together on parameters for the party that make you both feel comfortable? Much like we would decide about parenting issues or major purchases? I'm just wondering if turning it over needs to mean stepping away. Is there space for co-hosting. Maybe this comes later after the letting go has been accomplished... It's entirely possible I'm just looking for a baby step that I could actually envision trying. lol!

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, it's the bag packing. I get tired of doing it all the time, and somehow Angela always does fine when I'm not around, but I can't seem to let go of packing the daypack/suitcase, or at least doing a final check. (In our case, this isn't gendered, but I'd still like to figure out how to let it go). Try to enjoy NOT thinking about bagels, Amy!

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow Party Planner, I'm interested to hear how it goes for you. I'm contemplating a similar step, but with a child's birthday. Kids don't care how clean the house is, but my MIL isn't quite as non-judgmental. The internal battle and the external at the same time sounds like too much for me the first time. Anyway, yes, best of luck!

11:23 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks for your support! I think bag packing is just as hard for me too. And thumbs up to Mom's idea of agreeing together what the party should be like - this is the very best way to feel comfortable but not take over. Alas, I'm in recovery from violating joint party standards in the past, so I thought I'd try a full assignment to junior helper in this case as a little experiment!

Wow - a child's birthday...that's hard core letting go! Probably my very last frontier. But so worthy an opportunity. Maybe start with a party that the MIL isn't invited to?

7:50 PM  

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