insert emoticon here, working mother

judge not lest…

So, let’s pretend. Let’s pretend there’s a guy I know, who works about 50-60 hours each week at a job for which he is well-paid and which he loves and is good at. As a perk of that working lifestyle, his wife is able to stay home and be full-time parent to their young child, and that’s a big bonus, because the wife has some chronic health problems that she’s dealing with, and runs a small business, and trying to balance full-time work and health and family would be deeply hard for her, and for him, and their child. After a few months in which those health problems were made worse by an untimely injury to the wife’s dominant hand and then a family-wide bout of viral illness, they decide to hire some help to get their house cleaned and under control.

I would read that scenario and think it all sounded just fine. Like, perfectly acceptable life choices. The things you do to get your world in order, when you have the resources to do that.

Of course, that paragraph is about me. I’m the guy I know. I work a lot, at a job I love that pays me well enough that Justin can stay home with Gwyn and work on his health problems, and creating Agincourt Arms. His health has been made worse recently by the fact that he injured the tendon in his right thumb and can’t use that hand at all while it heals, and then we all got slammed with consecutive ear infections/vertigo/asthma attacks, and we’re pretty much at the end of our collective ropes right now.

And yet I spent part of my day feeling like I was a failure because we’re hiring some help to clean the house this weekend. Because as a woman I’m supposed to keep a nice house. Because that’s what moms and wives do. And after all these years of consciously considering those things, and challenging that paradigm, and living differently than that… I still unconsciously think I’m supposed to be The Wife And Mother Of Myth And Legend. Like choosing to have someone else help with the bathroom and the floors while I deal with laundry and play with my daughter is somehow wrong of me.

I really hate gender roles and the ways we assimilate them without even realizing it. Because I’m a great wife, and a good mother. (Good wife, great mother. Either way.) I can’t tell you the last time I scrubbed a toilet or changed the sheets on the bed, but nothing about that changes either fact. We are not our gender, and I’m entitled to do wife and mother the way that works for me. I would not judge others for making the choices I’m making — I would applaud them — and so I should also not judge myself.

Now I just need to convince myself of that.

4 Comments

  1. Jez

    Boundaries have to be drawn. And by hiring someone to do the things that ARE NOT IMPORTANT BECAUSE FAMILY IS FIRST, means you are enabling someone else to work, and you are putting money into their household so they may seek the dreams they have. It’s give and take. And it’s something I want to do, too, even though my daughter is 14 and could help, and Honey Badger could do more, but because I want to spend my free time exploring the mountains, walking with my family, watching movies and hanging out, working our land, or any other number of things that are more important than mopping the friggin mud off my floors for the umpteenth time. So I’m happy to pay someone who’s business of choice is to clean houses for a living. So do what you do. Already you are a superstar, a rock star, and someone who makes a blazing trail for the rest of us to follow.

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  2. Mary Carmen

    What Jez said x 100. Also, I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning. HATE IT. I resent the time it requires. There are many other things I could and do choose to do other than clean. This is pretty huge for me since I have serious cleaning anxiety and clutter anxiety. A messy house stresses me out something fierce. Also, I grew up in a home where every. single. Friday. we tore the house apart and cleaned it from top to bottom. Made me hate cleaning even more. I promised myself that when I was able to afford it, I would hire someone to clean because I can’t stand doing it. And that’s exactly what I did. And it is awesome to not have to think about it. And I’ve observed that what would take me 4-5 hours, takes 2 people 90 minutes to complete. Can’t beat that.

    Don’t beat yourself up. You’re prioritising and family comes first. This is why you work….so you can afford to hire some help and spend more time with your family.

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  3. Agree completely with what is written above. Have you read any Laura Vanderkam? Her stuff about time management and that the whole point of having money is to make the life you want easier and better is great. She’s a big fan of cleaning services 🙂

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