Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

Washington Post - The Nobel Brisket goes too...

This is an interesting article about a different take on equality between women and men for domestic tasks. Women certainly believe they take on more of the domestic tasks even when both partners are working, but women DO tend to be reluctant to give up those tasks. As Ruth Marcus notes in the article, "We cling to our multitasking as much as we bemoan it."

I have a different take on this because we both work and my husband actually does do a lot of the domestic tasks: he is the one who cooks the most often, and he does the majority of the laundry and vacuuming. He does many of the typically male chores too like mowing the lawn. My domestic jobs tend to be cleaning and dusting things (though I don't do it as often as I probably should), taking care of making lunch for my daughter and packing her things, making appointments for her and others in the family, keeping track of everyone's schedules, birthdays, etc., and, of course, the meal planning and grocery shopping.

Meanwhile, I have intense guilt about the fact that I am not the one who cooks, does laundry, and cleans the kitchen. I also feel bad when I can't be the one to take my daughter to an appointment, pick her up from daycare, or stay home when she's sick. I am sharing the responsibilities, and I feel guilty that I don't do it all myself. I think this stems from my guilt at not being able to be that stay-at-home mom for my child like my mom was for me. That she can't count on Mommy to be there whenever she needs something. And in a lot of ways, I enjoy being able to do those caregiving tasks for her. I feel needed if I do her laundry or make her lunch. I feel I can show my love for her by taking care of her needs. Does my husband enjoy providing that level of caregiving as well? Sure - he feels great that he can be home with his little girl, and see her smile when he picks her up from daycare. He likes to see her happily eating food that he made for her (though I'm not sure he's so thrilled about cleaning up the mess).

I think the urge to be supermom/superwoman and the pressure we put on ourselves to be that is also due to our need for control. With so many things on my plate, I'm constantly feeling like I'm going to drop a ball. What if I forget to make that doctor's appointment? What if we run out of milk? Or I'm feeling like my life is generally out of control, like when the laundry doesn't get done and we have to scramble to find clothes, or when I forget to make Ks lunch and have to rush in the morning to get it done without being late for work. Even my husband feels it when I forget to clean the dishes I said I would do before bed, and he needs to do it at 11:30pm when he is getting ready to go up to bed. We'd love to live in an orderly world where we can do everything and do everything well - just like they do on TV and in those creative magazines. But you know what? Sometimes things just can't be perfect and there's really no need to expect them to be. Store-bought cupcakes can be just as tasty as homemade ones, mismatched clothes won't always been noticed or cared about by other kids at daycare, and my kid won't necessarily realize that I'm 2 minutes late for picking her up from daycare (though my wallet might realize it when I incur that late charge). It's hard to remember to just do the best you can and sit back and enjoy life once in a while. I'm lucky to have my husband, who is my safety net, but most of my stress is really a matter of perspective.

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