Skip to main content
I’ve Walked a Mile featured img
Category: Feminists for Fathers

I’ve Walked a Mile

May 29, 2024

There is a familiar indigenous proverb that I have recently gained a deeper appreciation for:

You can’t really understand another person’s experience 

until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Starting in January of this year we’ve had two major shifts in our household: My husband became unemployed, and I started working for the first time in a decade. We quite literally swapped roles! He became the stay-at-home parent, and I became the working parent. 

We knew it was coming weeks beforehand, and I was dealing with a decent amount of anxiety about it all! I just knew that the kids would miss the bus the entire first week, that there would be major emotional meltdowns for all involved, that there would be gnashing of teeth and broken dishes. My husband was wondering what all the worry was about. I had gone on trips and he had handled things fine then, what was the big deal?! It was going to be a piece of cake! I could see his chronic time blindness wreaking havoc; he could see my anxiety being the only issue. 

To sum it up: The kids never missed the bus, AND my husband underappreciated all that there was to manage before precisely 8:25 am every school day. 

As the days went by we both found things that were absolutely under the other’s radar while not playing that role previously. I had no idea how obnoxious it really was to leap over the bikes in the garage day after day to get to the “small car.” He had mentioned it occasionally as being annoying, but now I really appreciate it. He has told me that he knows why I never have an answer when the kids say, “Mom, what’s for breakfast?” because now that he’s the one making the decision every day, it’s easier said than done. He also sees how easy it is to get wrapped up in some project and leave breakfast out all day long, not realizing it until it’s time to start dinner. I understand the deep longing to not have to get in the shower before a certain time in order to not be late. He commiserates about dealing with a certain headstrong child who sometimes will not put his blasted socks on until the bus is pulling up the street, or the last minute frantic, “I forgot my…..!” or, “I can’t find my…!” There are so many more examples. 

Photo credit: Oziel Gomez via Unsplash

This is all to say that we have had the chance to walk a mile in each other’s shoes. We understand each other now on a level that was impossible to really understand before. We can see each other better. We can team up better. While I wouldn’t recommend making this change if it isn’t absolutely necessary, I can truly say that I’m grateful for it. We are still walking the sticky road of unemployment, we are still flawed individuals in myriad ways, but now we have just another layer of understanding to add to our shared load. We can support better, see the needs better, and unite better than we could before. It is a beautiful partnership, and I’m thankful for the copilot I get to enjoy the journey with. 

Lead photo credit: Mohammad Metri via Unsplash