feminism and full-time momming

it’s 5 am and footsteps pound up the stairs. he bursts frantically into the bedroom undressing. he’s fallen asleep on the couch, didn’t set an alarm and has not prepared for his day ahead of time. i sit up and ask what i can do to help. and then it happens, he snaps back “are my work clothes even clean?”

i quickly glance at the hamper with a half-day’s dirty laundry in it, calculate the cleaned load in the dryer and the cleaned laundry in the bin at the foot of our bed. i calmly reach into the cleaned “to-fold” pile of his clothes that have sat around for a day and hand him a pair of pants and a shirt. he dresses and leaves.  at least i made him his lunch the night before. he goes off to a long, hard day that hasn’t started well for him and i hope he gets through it all right.  but now it hasn’t started out well for me either.

i am wide awake processing the emotions that i kept at bay during this interaction, knowing that during a moment of stress was not the time to get into a roles discussion and a “natural consequences” lecture. i am processing the fact that the person i was 2 years ago would have jumped at this moment, even been a little bit happy that i had an opportunity to hold a moment of his disorganization up in his face and say “see?” but the me from now pushes those things aside to get what needs to be done, done. the me from now sits awake, hurt from knowing that in a moment of stress when he was looking for someone else to place blame on, it once again came back to me. in his stress, he let slip his inner notions of what my role in his life should be.

my job in this world is full-time mom. that says M-O-M, mom. it does not say full-time housekeeper. it does not say stay-at-home laundress. it doesn’t say work-from-home-maid. it says Mom. to me, that means my number one function for my family and in my life is the raising of my children. period. and i do not consider a grown man, 4 years my senior to be one of my children.

this is not 1950s america anymore. mother’s are not leaving their children in playpens all day to vacuum floors and hospital fold corners onto beds. we are not shoving our kids outside, unattended for the entirety of the day and locking the door behind them so we can fold a large family’s worth of clothes in front of our soaps. parenting is much more involved now. the term full-time mom means the number one recipient of our attention is our children. the housework comes second. sometimes it is much further down the list. i’d like to think it’s because we’ve come to the awareness that life is short and having a spotless house doesn’t matter as much in the end. what matters is the time we put into our little people.

but maybe we’ve also realized that the housework is and should be a joint effort even if someone is home during the day. i am not the only person who eats off dishes in this house. i am not the only person who wears clothes. i am not the only person to use the bathroom. so, i am calling bullshit on this antiquated system that says the household chores are my responsibility because i’m the “stay-at-home” parent. i also know that the truth of the matter is that these things are being put on my shoulders because i am a woman.  studies show that even in households where both partners are working outside the home, the female still bears the brunt of the household duties. it’s just another plate we women keep spinning in the air with little, to no appreciation given from our families. i don’t see how the absolution of personal responsibility over household conditions for the rest of my family is in any way good in the long run.

and guess what, stay-at-home parents are hardly ever staying at home! we’re out running errands for our families or taking our kids out for days in the park or other enriching activities. we’re taking them on play dates so they have time with other kids because society is screaming “but their socialization!” at us while covering their heads and looking at the sky.

now, time for some perspective on our household: our house is pretty fucking organized because I have worked hard on that. anyone who doesn’t think so probably doesn’t have a realistic grip on how other households are functioning. or they may be looking at the 2-3 spots in my house which i do not take personal control over. cough, record collection, cough cough. we have only one child {outside of the womb} and i’ve gotten pretty good at running household. i AM the person who does 85% of the housework around here. i’m the maker of beds and the cleaner of rooms. i’m the vacuum queen and freshly made, organic dinner chef.  but this is not because i am the full-time parent. it is not because i am the woman. it’s because I want things that way. these are decisions i’m making and i happen to be a woman. that is my feminism. being able to say that i am conducting myself in the way i see fit because it is what I want for myself and my life, not because of my gender. my feminism says that deserves respect and the most important respect out there to be earned is my own.

somewhere along the line i had to take personal responsibility that the reason i do as much cleaning as i do is because that is how i want my surroundings to be organized in my daily life. i could flip the switch and very, very easily say “ok, i’m not doing this anymore and no one can make me.”  i could put the to-do list down and every time my daughter asks for my attention or help with something i could answer with a “Yes! I will help you!” instead of the “sorry honey, mommy has to finish up these dishes” she frequently gets.

if you have a stay-at-home partner who does the majority of the housework then i want you to try to understand something: any household work your partner does while you’re away for the day is a bonus. it is not owed to you. our main focus should be our children and anything else we get done during the day is a blessed miracle. you have no idea how hard we work to cultivate enough independence in our children so that we can get some chores done, or in my case, the time spent coaxing little ones into being helpers.  if you come home to a mostly clean house, aren’t stepping over piles of clothes and broken toys at the end of the day then that is because your partner made a conscious decision to aim for those goals during his/her day. be thankful for that.

because i am not responsible for making sure clothes are laid out for other members of my family. i would like to give them credit to take a little more personal responsibility than having me dress them like children on the morn of sunday school.

also, for the record, i have always also multi-tasked and performed part-time work outside of the home to contribute to my family. AND i also have started my own small business and find time to squeeze in the development of my career which is my soul’s work. i also know that the childhood and parenting i’ve given my daughter is of far higher quality than any lifestyle i’ve been afforded thus far, especially in these last 2-3 years. i do a hell of a lot with the time and resources i’m given. i’m successful at my roles in life. i’m not bragging. i’m simply having the confidence to take a look at who i am and what i accomplish and say “yes, it is good enough” instead of tearing myself down. because it is good enough. i am damn good at ALL my jobs in this world. no one can take that affirmation away from me.

i am sure that households are not separating out chore lists by salary lines. i’m sure that people are not saying “well, i make 15% more per annum than you, my dear, therefore hereafter you should spend 15% more of your time doing housework than i do.”  that is ridiculous. getting through life is a game. and if you can’t get on the same team then you are most surely going to lose.

i feel that until there is more respect and gratitude given for the roles and functions of BOTH partners in a household then this will forever by a cyclical argument. or at least it will be in this house. BUT i live in a day and age when i can reject any notions of my worth being tied to my income or my sex. my worth is tied to my own opinions of myself and as stated, i think i’m doing a damn fine job.

i do not accept your idea for my role in life. i accept my own.  for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great. you have no power over me. {full labyrinth echo fade effect}

i’m out.

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