“Pregnancy, nappies, and school runs? Single, childless, and loving it!” (Irish Examiner, 29/07/19) was an interesting article about how being single is better for a woman than being married with children. I would like to offer an alternative view and share some of the joys and happiness of family life.
I am a woman, happily married to my husband of 25 years. I am a mother of two children, an 18-year old girl and a 15-year-old boy. My husband works full-time and I have been a stay-at-home mother for 18 years, with part-time work from time to time.
We are what you might consider a traditional household. I do the vast majority of the housework: food shopping, laundry, and cooking. The children do chores and paid chores (they decide how much work to do to get paid). My husband helps around the house in the evenings and on weekends. However, he works 45+ hours a week to “contribute”. He is the sole earner. So should we share the household jobs 50:50? No way. My “job” is to keep the house in order. His “job” is to make sure we have a house to keep in order.
We are an average family. We’ve had our fights, like any family, and have had our share of health issues. We watch the Late Late Show, we vote, we have car trouble, and we celebrate Christmas and Easter and birthdays, just like most families. But we do it together, as a family. And I am grateful for that!
We do not focus on the difficulties. The author seems to observe only those struggles. An excerpt: “The idea of ‘settling down’ makes me itch to take off and run for the hills. Having weekly arguments with a significant other, about whose turn it is to put out the bins, which giant nappy pack is more absorbant, or having to be considerate to another person pre-8am, just isn’t appealing on any level.”
The writer has very strong views on her singleness. But I have very strong views on the family, which I want to share here.
Marriage has been an integral part of society for centuries. It provides stability and security. It provides a deep sense of belonging, personal satisfaction, and fulfillment. Having children, if possible, is an extension of that marriage. The family is a place where we learn compassion, kindness, care for another, and selfless sacrifice for the greater good of family. This translates into the greater good of society, as parents can teach children social norms, ethics, and morality.
There are millions of families around the world doing the exact same thing we do. We need to hear the stories of families: the success stories, the celebrations, the rites of passage, the small things that make up society.
Family is worth celebrating, and I hope my story — one of countless stories of families “doing life” together — is a reminder that there are always multiple angles to every viewpoint. Let’s celebrate the good stuff, as well as acknowledge the realities of life.
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 31 July 2019.