Remember the song that was used as a jingle for a fragrance in the 70', "Because I'm a woman, W-O-M-A-N". It talks about bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, and never letting you forget you're a man. I heard that song on my recent vacation, performed by four women in thongs, and I've been thinking about it's lyrics ever since. That song sums up my mom's dream for me, which I feel like I am living.
Let me pause here to say that I love my family, I love my husband, and I love my life. I have been full time, part time, in school, out of school and every combination. We've put a lot of thought into our lifestyle and it works for our family. At times, though, the equality we spent years to get seems elusive and contradictory, that's all.
Today I am home sick with a minor cold. I could tell that my husband thinks I am a slacker for it. He would never say so, but he would also never take a sick day. He would put the kids in school, go to work and then come home and sleep. So why do I take a sick day? Part of it is that I don't feel I can come home and just sleep. I have dinner to make and others' needs to tend to. So I rest during the day, skirting work responsibilities in lieu of skirting home responsibilities.
One of my college boyfriend's moms once told me that this whole fight for equality seemed to only add the additional responsibilities of a career and money making to the already long list of responsibilities borne by women. In that, we got to go to work, but didn't have a reduction in any of the household responsibilities. Nobody's fault, just the way things kind of fell out. Maybe we don't delegate, maybe we don't get offers of help; probably a little of both.
My mom was a stay at home mom. She was devastated financially by the divorce and now lives on social security in a house of 9 people and without enough money to cover her dog's vet bills. She never wanted me to depend on a man for money. She wanted me to be in the workforce. Now I'm the breadwinner of the family, working full time at an executive job with 20 employees working under me. She beams about how I seem to be balancing it all, but admits that she secretly worries about burnout. At times I complain to my dad about my host of responsibilities, saying that sometimes I feel I wear the pants and skirt, but he reminds me of the work he did around the house. Then I wonder if I grew up to be my dad. But no, I'm not my dad, because I'm a W-O-M-A-N.