Fellas, Giving A Woman Your Last Name Isn’t the Prize You Think It Is

About a month ago, Chris Brown released the latest single from his new album, a collab with Drake. I like them both as artists (save your breath - not trying to hear why I shouldn’t listen to Chris Brown, thanks) so I gave it a listen when it showed up in Spotify. It’s a decent bop, the kind of song I’d expect from either of them. Then the video dropped and I found it entertaining, especially the little dance battle thing.

 
 

The other day this song came on in the car, and I finally caught something Chris Brown was saying in the hook…

I don't wanna play no games, play no games
Fuck around, give you my last name (oh)
Know you tired of the same damn thing
That's okay 'cause, baby, you

Yeah…I had a screw face at the bolded line.

Hey guys, I’m sorry to break this to you, but having your last name is not the prize you think it is.

It might have been a prize back in the day, but now? It’s 2019 and frankly, marriage is kinda antiquated and I say that as a married woman. Women don’t need marriage the way they did 20, 50, 100, 500 years ago.

  • The stigmas of single motherhood and longterm single life are both gone;

  • women outnumber men in college & grad school;

  • The pay gap is narrowing;

  • You can hire someone to do pretty much everything a husband does, including mow your lawn, fix things, and pipe you down;

  • Sex toys have gotten really amazing

I mean, any way you look at it, there are plenty of upsides to not getting married. But let’s say you actually believe in that shit and find someone who’s quirks you can tolerate? Be all means get married, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up your last name for his. It’s 2019, we off that shit. American women are finally catching up to the rest of the world and realizing how pointless and stupid it is to go through the stress of changing their name after marriage when they have perfectly good last names. Changing your name does not make you any more a family or committed to your marriage compared to someone who did change their name. It’s just an antiquated practice that (hopefully) Millennials is killing off along with buying blood diamonds.

I hope that men aren’t out here trying to entice women by telling them one day they could win the prize of their last name. I’d laugh in his face if a man said that to me.

You ain’t gon get her with the promise of your last name… Maybe come with something better.

Let's Start Treating Men Like The Adults They Are, Shall We?

 
Photo by  Alexandro David  from  Pexels

Photo by Alexandro David from Pexels

 

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook Mommy groups. On one hand, they’ve been a wealth of information and support for me as a first time mom, and a safe space to ask questions. But on the other hand, man are they a cesspool of dysfunction! But what actually bothers me the most is the posts I see almost every day, from different moms but with the same refrain - some version of “how do I get my husband/boyfriend/partner to do more to help me?”

We Have A Problem In Our Homes

Emotional labor, equity in child rearing and household management, career progression for working moms - all topics that have been discussed ad nauseam. I grew up being told that feminism would one day lead to equity between the sexes, that we’d be able to work like men and have our families at home and everything would work out just fine. Instead we now have to work ourselves to the bone at soul-sucking jobs, and then go home and do all the work to maintain our households and tend to our children. We’re damned if we sacrifice our careers to stay at home with our kids, and we’re damned if we put our kids in daycare so we can work.

Meanwhile, what are the men doing? Apparently they just getting on our damn nerves and being lazy.

Each time I read a post from a burned out mom on Facebook, or scroll through a never-ending list of depressing comments on an article, I’m filled with an emotion that can best summed up a combination of rage and pity. I’m filled with anger for all the women who are stuck with aint shit partners who do nothing to help maintain the households or parent the children they helped create. But I also feel some pity for this women too, because the answer (to me at least) is so simple and yet to eludes so many of them.

So What’s The Answer?

We see it all the time, the tired tropes of the bumbling dads who can’t figure out how to dress their kids without calling their wife. We overhear stories from men who brag about purposely putting on diapers wrong, or bringing back the wrong groceries, so they won’t be saddled with the chore again. We also the moms who are never without their children because they fear their partners can’t handle the children alone.

The answer is not to beg or nag or threaten your partner for help with the kids and around the house. We - as partners, as mothers, as members of our society - must demand that men act like adults and then hold them to it. But that means that we also must allow the men in our lives to parent in their own way, without our micromanagement or supervision.

The vast majority of men are more than capable of acting like adults, and taking care of themselves and others, both most of them find it easier to pretend to be clueless so they can be lazy. Instead of challenging them to be and do better, most women find it easier to just do what needs to be done themselves, but all that does is reinforce the idea that most men in heterosexual relationships don’t have to do anything, and doing slightly more than the bare minimum wins them the title of SuperDad.

We - the collective we - need to demand and expect the men in our lives to do more and be active participants in our homes.

Holding our partners accountable means that we learn the value of letting go of how things are done, and detach ourselves from doing some things entirely. It’s not responsibility to remember that your husband needs to buy his mother a birthday present. Leave that work up to him! If it doesn’t get done, his mom can take that up with him. Your kid might go to school in pajama pants, a tutu and rainboots - if they are clean and (relatively) dressed for the elements, don’t stress it. Yes, some things absolutely must get done, like feeding the kids and making sure the bills are paid, but I’d wager there’s a lot of things that we as women do because we feel like we’re supposed to do them, not because we actually care. And in that regard, we should be more like the men in our lives, and ditch those activities that aren’t serving us in the long run.

What This Looks Like In Practice

I’ve written before about my hesitancy to become a mother, and my greatest fear was that I’d end up a “married single mother”, doing all the work while my husband lounged on the couch with a beer. But before we even got married, my husband showed me that he truly believed in the equitable arrangement I envisioned. Will doesn’t believe in “emotional labor” as a thing, because it’s something he’s never asked of me. We both manage our own relationships with our families, and thus he’s responsible for remembering his mom’s birthday, or booking our trips to see his family. He manages his own appointments, pays his individual bills on his own, and communicates with me about our household needs. We use tools like a joint Gmail account and calendar to make sure we’re both in the know on things happening, and we have regular check-in meetings to align on our family and individual priorities.

Along with owning his own shit, I always expected him to do as much of the stuff he was able to do, but to his credit, he jumped in enthusiastically. We wound up combo feeding our daughter, so while I nursed and pumped, he was in charge of making formula bottles, and cleaning the dirty bottles. He’s a night owl, and he willingly took the middle of the night feedings so that I could sleep. He changed diapers, helped with baths, and rocked her for hours. Now that we’re in the toddler phase, we each take a weekend morning to get up early with Phi, so that the other can sleep in a bit (as much as you can with a toddler). He’s encouraged me to stay connected with my community of friends, and encouraged me to take some trips without him and the baby, including a week long girls’ trip to Greece. In the 2+ years of our daughter’s life, we’ve settled into a pretty equal division of labor in our home, both with childcare and household tasks, and I’d say we’re both pretty happy with how things have shaken out. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect though - we’ve both had to initiate the “I need you to do more to help me” talks with each other; but thankfully, we’ve both been apologetic and receptive to the feedback to each other. We care about being good partners to each other, and a good example to our daughter, and so we do the work to make sure we both have what we need.

While my husband is pretty awesome (I mean, if he wasn’t, why did I marry him?) but he’s not some type of unicorn. He’s just like any other guy and he has the same quirks and annoyances as any other man. The difference is that I clearly communicated to him what was and wasn’t acceptable, and he gives a damn about our family so he does the work that needs to be done. I also have learned to detach from ownership and allow him to parent his own way, with his own relationship with his daughter. He truly can do everything I can do for her, including her hair (which is a thing, trust me!). He’s an adult, so I don’t need to manage how he parents our daughter and dictate every little thing - as long as she clothed and fed and happy, everybody is good.

How’s the division of labor in your home? What do you think keeps more men from being equal partners? Sound off in the comments!

Three Things My Husband Introduced To Me

If you know me, you know there are a few things I love - Beyonce, knitting, Great British Baking Show and fancy products from Sephora. A couple of those things he can tolerate, and other things he…gracefully leaves me to my own devices.

We do have common interests, like seeing movies, trying new restaurants and traveling. But just as I have my own interests, William does too. The joy of marriage is that eventually your spouse’s interests will rub off on you, and William has taught me a lot about his hobbies over the years we’ve been together.

 
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He Introduced Me To Golf

Prior to meeting William, my golf knowledge was extremely basic. Like I knew it involved golf courses and clubs and there was a famous golfer named Tiger Woods. See I told y’all, basic. And then I married a golfer! He watches a lot of golf on TV, so while it was on I’d ask all the questions. Who’s that golfer? What club is he using? Why can’t they use a cart? Why they all ending up in the water? 🤣🤣🤣 Luckily my husband loves me and is used to my barrage of questions, and he indulged me. Thanks to him, I now understand what “par” is, why they don’t use carts, and how scoring works. I also know most of the names on the PGA Tour and I have my own fave golfers (Ricky Fowler is one!).

When he’s not watching golf, William is playing golf, including tournaments in the summer. Golf is one of his passions - he’s loved the game all his life - and I think he’s happy that he could share his love of golf with me. I’ve tagged along with him to the range, but I find the golf stance really awkward and painful, so I don’t do it often. The most golf I’ll do is mini golf or Top Golf 😂


He Taught Me About Comic Books

Before I met William, I only knew the bare minimum about comic books - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman. I’d even seen a few comic book movies. But the minute someone said “Marvel or DC?’ I was lost. And I definitely didn’t know about indie comic book companies, like Image Comics. William is a huge comic book collector so one of the first things he started to teach me about was his comic book collection. He is a walking comic encyclopedia - he can tell you when a character first appeared, their entire story line, and more.

Once he moved to Minnesota, he found a local comic book shop and I started tagging along, and that’s when I realized that comics are way more varied (and fun!) than I thought. While he debated the merits of some book with the staff, I started thumbing through various books and getting into a few. William has an extensive pull list at his comic book store and I have my own modest list of books that I read. I’m also caught up on who’s Marvel and who’s DC and I even know his dream comic book purchases (in case you’re wondering, it’s Fantastic Four #52 and The Flash #104).


He Got Me Hooked On Asian Dramas

My husband is not a good sleeper - he averages 4-5 hours a night. This was great when Phi was a newborn, as he took virtually all of the middle of the night feedings since he was up anyway. When he’s awake in the middle of the night, he watches random shows on Netflix, and it was on one of these nights that he came across an Asian drama. He was instantly hooked, and he started watching more…and more…and more. In the morning he’d tell me about the latest show he was watching, and he made them sound so good, so I started watching too…and I was also hooked!

We’ve watched shows from China, Korea, and Japan. I think my favorite shows come from China and Korea - the story lines are so dramatic and the acting is entertaining. If you aren’t watching Asian dramas on Netflix, you gotta get on the bandwagon! Put these shows on your watch list: My Horrible Boss, Keep the Marriage In Jade, Something In The Rain, Two Fathers, and A Good Wife.

Has your spouse introduced you to anything that you wound up loving? Tell us in the comments!

Our Middle East Adventures, Part 1

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Hey yall! LM and I just spent an amazing week in the UAE – Dubai and Abu Dhabi specifically.

What were we doing in the UAE? Vacation of course! This story began last Christmas, when Etihad Airlines had super cheap fares to a variety of destinations. I snagged us two tickets to Abu Dhabi for less than what it cost us to fly to Atlanta for Christmas! Because of our wedding & honeymoons in the spring of 2015, I booked our travel for October, when it’s cooler.

After almost of year of waiting, and seeing everyone’s cool photos, it was finally our turn to travel! Prior to the trip we did a bunch of research to figure out things to do/see, where to stay, and most importantly, how to make our flight as comfy as possible. Shoutout to Tripadvisor, Seatguru and Black Girl in Abu Dhabi, which were my main resources for information.

Our journey began on a Wednesday, when we drove from Minneapolis to Chicago, which was the closest city that Etihad flies from. We could have hopped a flight, but it was easier and cheaper to just make the drive. Our flight to Abu Dhabi was scheduled to leave at 1pm on Thursday, so we drove down Wednesday evening and spent the night in a hotel.

Our departing flight from Chicago was a Boeing 767 and it was PACKED. LM and I sat in the back, which turned out to be great. The plane was a 3-4-3 configuration, and we were in the first 2 seats of the 4 seat section. I did appreciate the many amenities provided by the airline – not just a pillow and blanket, but also eye shades, ear plugs, and noise-cancelling headphones. During our 14 hour flight we were served several meals and snacks, plus plenty of drinks. I spent the flight falling asleep to movies, while LM spent most of it walking around and doing shots with a flight attendant in the galley.

After what felt like forever, we finally landed in Abu Dhabi. When we disembarked, we were greeted by a representative from Pearl Assist, who escorted us through customs. After we exchanged a bit of our money, we then hopped on the Etihad shuttle to Dubai. Tip: if you’re flying on Etihad, the shuttle to/from Dubai is free, but your boarding pass is required. It’s also suggested that you reserve your seats in advance. The trip to Dubai took a little over an hour, ending at the Etihad Travel Mall. From there, we took a cab to our hotel, the Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

The Bonnington is in a great area – it’s in a development with restaurants and various shops, and it’s a 10 minute walk to the Metro and tram. The Metro can get you all over Dubai, while the tram will take you to the Marina, Jumeirah Beach and Palm Island. I wish I could say that I was clever when I booked this hotel, but we really got lucky. Initially we’d booked a hotel near the Dubai Mall, but it was expensive. We took a gamble on a Priceline Express Deal and got the Bonnington at a great rate. The hotel was beautiful, and the service was top-notch. Our room was spacious, and the bathroom with huge! It had both this amazing deep tub plus a huge walk-in shower.

After checking in and resting up for a bit, we ventured out to explore Dubai. We found the Metro, and figured out how to buy passes. Tip: get a daily pass; it’s 22 AED (~$6) for unlimited rides all day. We decided to visit Mall of the Emirates, which is 1 of the most famous malls in Dubai. This mall is home to Ski Dubai, the indoor ski slope. Listen, this mall was INSANE. I visit Mall of America all the time, and Mall of the Emirates puts it to shame. Any and every retailer you can imagine was in this mall, from low-end to the high-end luxury brands. I did enjoy visiting some of the luxury stores. Honest moment: shopping while Black in Dubai was a new experience - I didn’t have worry about things like being followed or receiving poor service. We explored the mall and had dinner, before we returned to the hotel for some rest.

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Day 2 we had an open morning, so we hopped on the Metro to visit the Dubai Mall and see Burj Khalifa (aka the tallest building in the world). We weren't interested in going to the observation deck in Burj Khalifa so we just admired it from the ground - and yes, it's super tall. The Dubai Mall was fantastic, with tons of shops and restaurants. In one section of the mall, there's a line of American restaurants, which surprised me - Red Lobster next to PF Chang's next to Texas Roadhouse. It's also home to a large aquarium which we initially planned to visit, but we ran out of time. After visiting for a bit, we hustled back to our hotel for pick up for our desert safari experience.

There are a ton of companies that run a desert safari - we went with Arabian Adventures, and booked the Sundowner. On the safari, we were taken out to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The safari starts with a short falcon show. Next you go driving through the sand dunes (if you get motion sick you won't like this part) and you make a short stop in the dunes for photos. The last stop is a permanent camp where you have dinner, watch a belly dance show, take camel rides and get henna.

 

LM and I on the desert safari!

The desert safari was fun....but it felt very generic and cookie-cutter. Every moment was perfectly choreographed to keep you on schedule and it didn't feel super authentic. It was like the McDonald's of experiences, if that makes sense. It's also designed to churn as many people through as possible. It's a cool thing to do on your first time to Dubai, but I didn't walk away feeling like I'd had an authentic experience.

Day 3 was my favorite day in Dubai. We began the day by meeting a friend of my husband's - he and his wife have lived in Dubai for 4 years. We had lunch and he shared a ton of information about live in Dubai, being a Black expat, etc. Also we had some yummy sushi at a conveyor belt restaurant, which are always my faves. After lunch, we took the Metro to the gold and spice souks, which are big markets. In the gold souk, every 5 feet there was a guy trying to sell you watches, jewelry, fake bags, etc. Nuts! We also randomly stumbled upon the Heritage House, a home that was converted to a museum to highlight traditional life in the UAE. I liked exploring this museum and learning more about the culture.

Fresh caught seafood dinner on the beach!

In the evening we met up again with LM's friends for dinner at a seafood restaurant. This restaurant serves fish and shrimp that were caught the same day, and you get to pick out your fish when you order. We ate on the beach, enjoying the breeze and the conversation. We then walked off dinner with a stroll through Jumeirah Beach, where I captured this view of Burj Al Arab. To end the night, we headed to the The Address hotel in Dubai Marina, where we had drinks and dessert at the pool lounge. The hotel has a beautiful infinity pool and I was mesmerized by the gorgeous view of the marina and the skyline. It turned out to be the perfect way to end the Dubai part of our trip.

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Other thoughts/observations about Dubai:

  • All the signs are in Arabic and English - super helpful for us English speakers
  • I saw a lot of American cars, which surprised me. Mustangs, F-150s and Suburbans are popular. Also, almost all the cars were white, which I'm sure is intentional.
  • I did a lot of people watching, and it seemed like almost everyone was a foreigner.
  • There are a ton of US companies with offices in Dubai.
  • Everything is super clean and everywhere we went, I saw people cleaning, sweeping, etc.
  • Dubai is very safe - we walked around after midnight with no issues.
  • Every restaurant delivers, even McDonald's!
  • The currency exchanges in the malls have the best rates - hold out to exchange most of your money there.
  • Try to arrive so you attend the brunch at The Atlantis - we missed it but I heard it's amazing.

Next up, Part 2 in Abu Dhabi!

 

 

 

My Expectations For Marriage

I wrote a beautiful post...and it was posted on A Practical Wedding today! APW was one of my fave wedding sites during my engagement, and I love that they focus on more than just the wedding. They have info and posts about not just your wedding, but your marriage, your family, even your career. And the community? Its the bee's knees, full of thoughtful commenters who know how to be respectful. A snippet from my post:

got married a little over five months ago.  As a newlywed, the question I get the most often is, “How is married life? Is it everything you expected?” I generally give a generic answer about it being awesome, but that’s a half-truth. Married life is amazing and better than I expected, but that’s because my expectations were non-existent.

I always knew that I wanted to be married, but I never spent much time thinking about what I wanted from marriage. Instead, I fantasized about what I didn’t want my marriage to be like—my parents’ marriage. I grew up in a two-parent home, with people who loved each other but didn’t know how to really make a marriage work. It wasn’t their fault; they both grew up in single-parent homes. They grew up differently and took different paths in life before they met and married.

Check out the rest here - I Have No Idea How To Have A Happy Marriage on A Practical Wedding

Thanks for reading!.