Luck Has Nothing to do With It

When I’m chatting with ladies who don’t know me all that well, who are only acquaintances, sometimes the topic of household duties comes up.

Oh, I’m so tired of cooking! Say, what are your favorite recipes to make for your family?

Internally, my eyes roll back in their sockets before I respond.

Actually…my husband cooks in our house.

And then I brace myself for the two-pronged response that I almost always get:

First is SHOCK: Whoa! What?!

Second is: Wow, you’re so lucky! I wish my husband would do that!

I have so many issues with this. First of all, just because I’m female and I’m a wife and a mom does not mean that I like to cook, or that I cook at all. That bias is still present for me, hence the jolt of weird guilt that goes through me when I end up confessing shirking my domestic womanly duties.

Second of all, luck has nothing to do with this arrangement. I chose a dude who doesn’t adhere to rigid gender roles, just like me. I find that attractive in a partner. Also, the way we negotiate the household duties is based on practicality and it’s on a fluid, ongoing basis. We do what we’re good at, what we like, and what works better for our family. Why the frick should I cook simply because I’m female? Doesn’t make any horsesense to me.

Third, it makes me so mad that it’s flippin 2020 and we’re still having these conversations. And the pandemic is only making things worse, as I saw a headline recently that reported several million American women left the workforce since March. As for me, I didn’t leave it, but it sure as heck delayed my entry back into it. Because, while other countries have social/government run safety nets, the United States has women.

I recently saw the interview Melinda Gates did with Dave Letterman on his Netflix show. In it, she said that when her oldest kid was in preschool, her husband Bill and her decided that he would drive their kid to school two days a week. That’s how they negotiated the household duties that would work for their family. As the school year went on, Melinda noticed that more and more dads were also driving their kids. When she spoke to the other moms, they said that once they saw Bill driving his daughter, they went home and told their husbands that if Bill fucking Gates could drive his kid to school, those husbands could, too.

And so. If my husband can cook dinner like a boss, yours can too. Let’s show each other that gender roles are bogus and all they do is hold us back, men and women both.

Luck has nothing to do with it.


Day 14

Did you know that boys can wear pink if they want to?

We were having dinner the other day as a family. My kids were talking about what they were gonna do when they grew up.

My son said, “When I’m a daddy, I’m going to go to work!”

My daughter chimed in, “YEAH! When I’m a daddy TOO, I’m gonna work!”

My son corrected, “NO! You can only be a mommy, cuz you’re a GIRL! And mommies stay home, they don’t go to work!”

My stomach gave a lurch.

I interrupted them – both my husband and I did – and we together explained that some daddies stay home and some mommies go to work. And that me, this Mommy, used to work, and that someday soon, I will again. And that we know mommies who work!

I totally understand that kids his age are very concrete, very black/white, right/wrong, what have you. They need to categorize in order to understand the world, and all those shades of gray can be confusing. Girls do this, boys do that! Easy-peasy. Plus, my kids have never seen me work. Why would they think any differently? To them, whatever our family does is familiar, natural, expected, normal.

I’m just very quick to point out that gender stereotypes don’t have to be followed if we don’t want to. I don’t want my kids feeling like they have to be put in a box, act a certain way, be a certain way, in order to be liked, accepted…whole.

One time, I took my son to get some rain boots. I was going to pick them out myself, but I figured I’d let him choose because then he’d be more likely to actually wear them. I was going to pick out some dark-colored ones from the “boy” section, but when I led him to the kid rain boot aisle, I made sure to motion to ALL the rain boots, the “boy” ones and “girl” ones. He looked at some pink ones, put them down and then mumbled that oh, those are girl ones.

How do you know that? I asked

Because they’re pink. He replied

Did you know that boys can wear pink if they want to?

(Pause.)

And you can choose whatever color you’d like.

Okay.

He still chose some “boy” ones, and that’s fine (they were freaking awesome, actually. they were green alligators with fucking sunglasses on, that’s how cool they were). I just want him to know that 1) there actually are boys who choose pink and mommies who choose to work, that there are many shades of gray and they are all okay, 2) he has the choice, for real, it’s not just lip service, and lastly, 3) he has my support whatever his choice.

I just hope that, if I say it enough, my kids will hear and understand. But it’s so hard when they’re mostly seeing family and friends and a world that strongly encourages and rewards adherence to gender norms. Because if they can’t see it, they can’t be it.

Hopefully I can help them see it.


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