My daughter turned 13 today. And I felt like a failure.
I didn’t get balloons for her. We didn’t go out for dinner and I didn’t have extravagant gifts perfectly wrapped waiting for her. I didn’t even make her favorite-yet-simple macaroni and cheese for her special day.
Instead, after working, I co-directed a school-wide Talent Show and got home at 5:45pm. Hurriedly, I roasted cauliflower while my husband grilled burgers. We were hangry – all of us. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream. She unwrapped some gifts and said thank you. (Well, she also complained that her teachers were assigning too many tests and homework which were endangering her 4.0 GPA). She and her sister studied for their math final while I contemplated doing a load of laundry. I decided to write, instead.
When I was kid, my mother stayed home and my father went to work. My mom did the grocery shopping, the cleaning of the house, the laundry and the cooking. My father taught college students computer science and math and conducted research. I – and about 70% of all other mothers – do the jobs of both our parents. We work in the home AND outside of the home.
This sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not. I just think we need to take stock of what we’re doing. I think we need be real with ourselves and stop the “I’m such a failure” talk. From where I’m sitting, men’s jobs and the expectations society has of them has not really changed. They are still expected to make an income, but out of necessity, most wives need to work too. And it’s the women who are expected to host play dates, do back-to-school shopping and coordinate all the social functions. You think I’m wrong? When we have guests who stay at our house, they ask me where things (crackers, towels, soap, etc.) are, they never ask my husband.
There are exceptions, I know that. But this is the rule.
I want to give a shout out to working mothers. I want to give an even louder shout out to single working mothers. And everyone who knows one ought to pass her some chocolate. Wine is good, too.