A year ago, I landed this job — my dream job — just as my husband, Justin, lost his. While we’d both always worked full-time at jobs we loved, his had always been the bigger career, with me, sometimes begrudgingly, taking on more than my fair share of responsibilities at home. For the previous year and a half, I’d been freelancing from home, and functioning as the default parent. But now we had an instant and total role reversal. He got a chance to see how it feels when a home-cooked dinner is expected most nights, or to have to-dos lobbed at him as his spouse walks out the door in nice clothes. I, in turn, got a chance to understand how hard it can be to keep your promises about when you’ll be home and how easy it is to get sucked into checking e-mails on your phone when you should be giving the kids your full attention.
There were times we both thought the other was a hypocrite; in the end, though, we understood each other better. I realized how much his support made my career possible, and how weird and guilty that made me feel sometimes. It dawned on him that family and household minutiae really do add up to quite a lot. And, for me, there was an upside: Seeing him embrace the opportunity to be involved in the kids’ lives as he never had before, coaching their teams, volunteering for field trips, and taking them to the doctor. I feel more sure than ever that I married a true partner.
After 14 years with Justin, my idea of romance has sure changed. It’s not the grand gestures; it’s the little decisions to be kind, from doing bath time when it’s not your turn, to toasting your partner’s successes even when you’re in a lull. My husband’s newly back at work, and we’re finding a balance again—we’re both making an effort to #leanintogether. Because of this, I know we can ride out any storms that come our way — and that I wouldn’t want to ride the swells with anyone else.
Sasha Emmons is the editor-in-chief of Today’s Parent, Canada’s #1 parenting magazine and media brand. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.