If anyone has figured out a way to make motherhood simple, I’m all ears, because I haven’t. Whether you stay at home with the kids or work eighty hours a week, it’s still a lot. A lot of work. A lot of time. A lot of responsibility. A lot of organization. A lot of worrying. A LOT! The feminist movement was a huge step in the right direction. Yes, women should be treated equally and they should have every opportunity that a man has. I wholeheartedly agree! But sometimes it seems that instead of creating a culture where women are allowed to do anything, we’ve created a culture where women are expected to do everything. Yes, women have proven themselves in the workplace and still raised great kids. But at what price? By giving up things like sleep and exercise? Are we all expected to be superwoman?
Yes, today’s men are much more willing to help out around the house and participate in child care and I commend them for that. But it’s still viewed as “helping out.” If a husband cooks dinner at night, he thinks to himself, “Wow! I’m a great husband and father. I’m helping out.” But if he’s “helping out,” that means the ultimate responsibility is not his. Who cooks dinner on the nights he doesn’t feel like helping out? Who’s responsibility is it to make sure that there is food in the fridge to cook? Who makes sure that the whole family gets nutritious, well rounded meals? Who arranges the child care pick-ups and drop-offs? If we are really going to be equals, we need to change this idea of “helping out.” We don’t need “a little help around the house,” we need our husbands to take something completely off our plate. We need a husband who says, “I’ve got food covered. Budgeting, shopping, cooking, packing lunches, nutrition. Covered. Don’t even think about it, babe. I’ve got it.” That’s what it takes to truly live as equals.
Otherwise, we expect the women of our generation to be CEOs at work and at home. Even if we snag one of the good husbands who “helps out,” everything is still our responsibility. We still sit down every evening with our to-do lists and day planners and double check that the kids have rides, grocery shopping is done, there are diapers in the closet, everyone has clean clothes, and someone is going to vacuum before the guests arrive on Thursday. Stay at home moms already have a full time job, a really tough one. So if you go back to work, do you have two full time jobs? I know you can delegate some of the tasks, but the responsibility still seems to rest on the woman, because we are the mom. I guess it’s true now more than ever. A woman’s work is never done!
I’m ranting about this because I’m facing the decision of going back to work full time, part time, or not at all. My first fear about going back to work is, obviously, not being the one there with my son all day teaching him about the crazy world we live in. But, another great fear about going back to work is that I am still going to have all the same responsibilities at home, and there simply are not enough hours in the day, or enough brain cells in my brain, to stay on top of everything. Something has to give, and I don’t want my kid to suffer if I let go of some of those responsibilities.
Luckily, I did snag one of those modern men who are willing to “help out.” My husband is perfectly willing to pick up the slack if I decide to work full time, but will he do as good a job as I do? Will he take FULL responsibility? This might sound really arrogant, but I treat being a stay at home mom like a job, like a 24 hour a day job. I was raised by a great, stay-at-home mom who set the standard pretty high. So I don’t feel like I’m doing my job unless the house is clean, the bills are paid on time, the kid is happy, there’s a home cooked meal on the table, and tomorrow’s day is planned. Can men do that? It seems to me that women have proven their role in the workplace but have men proven their role at home? Maybe we need a masculist movement where men can fight for their right to do laundry!