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Both my boys help with household chores…it’s never too early!
I am a working wife and mother. Those are my most defining roles in life. I work a full time job. Actually, I work one full time and two part time jobs, if we want to be technical. My daily schedule goes something like this: I wake up at 5:30am (4:30 on the mornings my husband is home and I have the energy to get up and go to the gym…which sounds impressive but does not happen nearly as often as it should). I get ready for work, wake my children and get them ready, and then post on social media to keep my direct sales business growing and evolving. After a forty-five minute drive to work, I teach for eight hours, and when 3:30 rolls around I head to the university where I teach freshman composition courses.
Around 5:45 I arrive home, tired and crabby from sitting in traffic. I then rush to get dinner on the table. Then I clean up the kitchen, the children, and maybe sit down for an hour before we begin bedtime routines. Once the kids are in bed, I tell myself I should clean the house, or grade papers, or work on lessons. Usually, however, I am too tired to do anything other than mindlessly watch television and scroll through my various social media accounts. I go to bed wishing it were a Friday night, when my weekend of baseball tournaments, errands, and prepping for the next week of insanity begins.
Why do we feel the need to juggle it all?
My daily schedule is not that different from millions of other women around the globe. And I know how very blessed I am because my husband is a wonderful, helpful, hardworking man. On the nights that he is off work, he is in charge of dinner. Because he works the night shift, he has the responsibility of school drop off and pick up. He also has a physically exhausting job that requires him to work on his feet twelve hours a night.
There is no doubt that his job is physically much more taxing than mine. But I do not believe he works harder than I do. This is mainly because, at home, I work hard to make sure he doesn’t have to. Do I have to cook a homemade meal even when I get home only fifteen minutes before my husband leaves for work? Couldn’t we just grab fast food? Will the world end if the dog hair collects on the floor one more day before I get around to cleaning it up? Will I destroy my children’s futures if I fail to get the dishes done or the laundry put away? Of course not. But I do it anyway, because I believe that our household has to run like a well-oiled machine or things will start to fall apart.
I do it all because I want to…and then I feel resentful
There are many days when I get angry and bitter that I feel like I have to shoulder the burden of nearly all the household chores alone. Don’t we all live in this house? Is it really possible that no one else notices the messes that threaten to drive me insane? I am convinced that if I don’t run myself ragged to get everything done, no one will step up to pick up the slack. And while my husband reminds me on a daily basis that things will be fine if I don’t complete every domestic task, I also don’t see him stepping up to get them done if I do not. This is not insensitivity on his part; it’s just a difference in priorities.
How has this mentality not changed?
Despite the tremendous strides women have taken to gain equality and break the glass ceilings that threaten to box us in, so much still remains the same. My husband is an amazing, hands-on father, but the majority of the daily burdens of parenthood fall on me. I bathe them, change their clothes, brush their teeth, tuck them into bed. I make sure the homework is done, the backpacks and lunches are packed, the permission slips are signed. Likewise, the household chores would not get done if I weren’t there to do them.
I do not blame my husband for this, because it is not his fault. This is a flaw in our society. I think this is still a carry-over from the days of the cavemen, when the man was the hunter and gather, and the woman took care of the children and the household. It was a fine system when that was her only job, but now she has so much more on her plate. With all of our advancements, how has this mentality not changed?
Inciting change by teaching our boys domestic responsibility
I am the mother of sons. These boys will someday fall into this very same rut if I do not make every effort to change it. I struggle every day with how I will attempt to reshape their expectations of traditional gender roles. They help clean the house and they start doing their own laundry as soon as they are tall enough to reach into the washer. They help to plan meals and cook dinner. I want them to respect the women in their lives and not feel as though the weight of domestic responsibility should fall solely on her shoulders.
I am lucky that I have a husband that does not hesitate to cook dinner, or clean when I ask him to help out. My goal is that the partners of my boys should not have to ask. They will automatically share the weight of that burden. They will have an equal partnership in all things domestic.
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