Complementarity

bathroom sign

Image by bec.w via Flickr

I’ve been trying to figure out the idea of complementarity for a while now.  I first really started to try and figure this out when I was studying JPII’s Theology of the Body in college.  Understanding this idea of men and women complementing each other is especially important to understanding the Church’s teaching about gay marriage. 

I believe in the idea of complementarity but I don’t quite understand it in a concrete sense.  Any time I’ve heard someone try to explain it, it seems that the traits they assign to men and women are stereotypical.  Like women are nurturing and caring blah, blah, blah.

Over the course of the last 6 months I definitely have observed this complementarity of husband and wife, mother and father.  I see how different the roles are.

Since having the Squeaker my life is 100% different.  There is not a single thing I can do whenever I want.  If I’m hungry, I can eat depending on if O is napping or if she is content in the Exersaucer for a while.  If I need to shower, it depends what mood O is in so that I can sneak away for a few minutes.  If I need to go to the bathroom in the middle of a trip to Target, well, I just have to hold it until we get home because I have not been able to figure out how to do this with O.  I don’t resent this (most days) because I know that this comes with being a mother.  My life is now tied to my baby because her survival and development depends on me. 

I really enjoy being a mother.  But motherhood really is all encompassing.  If she’s hungry, she looks to me.  If she’s crying, she looks to me.  If she’s sleepy, she looks to me.  If I want to go out with some girlfriends, I have to bring O with me or pump a bottle to leave with Kraft.  If I want a drink, I have to time it so that O won’t want to eat for a couple hours.  If I want to go shopping, I have to go in between O’s naps so she doesn’t melt down in the middle of the store.  If I want to cook, I have to cook in spurts when O’s in a good mood.  If I want to pick up any new hobbies or join any new clubs, well, all that stuff is on hold for a while unless it’s a mommy club.  Basically, my entire day revolves around O. 

Fatherhood, on the other hand, is totally different.  When Kraft wants to hang out with his friends, he does.  When Kraft needs to go to work, he does.  When Kraft needs to go to a Knights meeting, he does.  When Kraft needs to pick up his prescription from the pharmacy, he does.  When Kraft wants to get some air and get out of the house, he does.  When Kraft wants to drink a beer, he does.  When Kraft wants to run a half-marathon, he does.  When Kraft wants to become a 4th degree Knight, he does.

Sure Kraft’s life is different, but not in the same way.  He changed jobs and helps out with O but his life really is very much the same as before.  His life is not quite as affected as mine is.  Even Kraft’s sense of sacrifice and responsibility is different from mine.   

I wonder if this is the complementarity that I’ve been trying to figure out. 

When O wakes up crying at night, even if I’m exhausted, I’m up and tending to her.  When Kraft is exhausted he can’t do anything to keep himself awake. 

On the flipside, if O is teething, Kraft is already tying his shoes and ready to be out the door to get teething medicine.  I would instead just wait it out til morning. 

I don’t particularly enjoy doing laundry but I know it has to be done so I do it.  Getting Kraft to do an interpretative dance in the detergent aisle at HEB is more likely to happen than getting him to help with laundry. 

But Kraft notices when my car needs an oil change and promptly takes it to the mechanic.  If left up to me, Mickey (that’s my car – Mickey Montero) would probably run 10,000 miles without an oil change. 

I know the things I used to do with my free time, – like running or going for a drink with friends – my old “me” time activities, can’t really happen so I have to adapt.  Instead of going for a run, I try to take O for walks.  Instead of going out for a drink, I make play dates or have friends come over to watch Project Runway.  Kraft, on the other hand, has not really had to adapt his “me” time.  He still goes to guys’ nights, he signs up for half-marathons, he still goes to KoC meetings. 

But he does stay up late at night trying to figure out how to make my blog as pretty as I want it because I ask him to.  He’s been asking me to help him with organizing our finances for a while and I still have yet to do it. 

Although I sent them out super late, I still make sure to write thank you notes to people for important occasions.  Kraft has still not written the 16 thank you notes that I assigned him (out of 160) after our wedding. 

But he does make sure to send every one of his friends on Facebook a birthday note on their birthday.  I honestly can’t even  remember my best friends’ birthdays and usually think about them a couple months too late. 

I can tell you exactly where everything is in our home.  Where O’s little mittens are, where Kraft keeps his cufflinks, where the measuring tape is.  Kraft has to ask me where every single thing is.

But Kraft keeps the calendar and reminds of events we need to attend like birthday parties and such.

I know we need to keep working on finding a balance.  I think we need to find a way that I get some time to myself, at least once in a while.  I’ve been craving some alone time in the corner of a coffee shop with a big, piping mug of Chai latte and this laptop to work on some posts that have been swimming around my head for a while.  I also would really like to start running again.  I’m not dying to get this baby weight off but I would like to make some progress toward it.  I would like to go out with friends more.  I would like us to work more on our spirituality as a family.  More daily Masses, more praying, more celebrating saints’ feast days.

I love my family, though.  I love my daughter.  I love my husband.  Even now as I was working on this post he plugged a power cord in and cleared off the bed in our second bedroom so we could work on stuff in the same room.  He really does a lot for our family.  I guess I just want to feel like we’re more of a team.  Not just him working on his stuff and me working on home stuff.  But both of us working together.

Maybe I’m not any closer to being able to articulate what traits men and women have that complement one another but thank God me and Kraft have different strengths and weaknesses or else we’d have two broken down cars and no clean clothes.

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Comments

  1. wow, this it a little too close to home! kinda makes me want to make a list of the ways matt & i complement each other, so i can be mindful when i feel like “i bring more to the table!” heeh. i love you, paradox!

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