Great question from Two Women Blogging in response to my post, ‘Sorry, is our struggle stifling your productivity?’ And Jay’s question is why don’t women stop this, why don’t they just stop doing everything?
This question reminds me of last weekend when Bill and I took the kids shoe-shopping at one of those horrible big shopping complexes in the suburbs. Before I tell you my anecdote let me first note that it was me, and not Bill, who noticed that the children needed new shoes, so that’s the beginning of the question, isn’t it? Anyway, my anecdote is from when we stopped to eat sushi at the food court in this horrible shopping complex, and we were all sharing a platter of sushi and suddenly there was all this stuff going on.
It was quite chaotic, yes, again.
It was stuff like opening soy sauce sachets for children; finding serviettes to mop up the soy sauce spilt by Cormac; reminding Lauca to use table manners; stopping Cormac from eating sushi dropped on the floor; making sure the kids were sharing the drink fairly between them; encouraging Cormac to finish the piece of sushi he was eating before grabbing another off the plate; spooning the sushi to him that he’d crumbled everywhere; reassuring Lauca that Cormac wasn’t going to get any of her sushi, even if he did waste all of his by throwing it on the floor; and finally, finding a bin for all the rubbish that was rapidly accumulating on our tiny table.
… And at some point during all this stuff I thought I better eat some sushi myself, before it is all gone and it is at that point that I realised I was the only one running about tending to the children – Bill was contentedly lost in some advertising material he had picked up from a computer store, peacefully nibbling away on sushi. I made a jab at him – are you right there, quite comfortable, everything to your satisfaction? He acknowledged my point by way of a chuckle and then folded up his advertising material and started participating in all that stuff which was going on at our table.
How did this happen? It happened because when you’re in the thick of it, parenting, that is, you don’t have time to take stock of what is going on and you slip into some very traditional roles/ bad patterns. It happened because Bill is good at switching off and I am good at switching on. It happened for so many reasons, and before I could really complain about them all we would probably have moved right on to a brand new situation of unfairness. Frankly, it is kind of hard to keep up, even as a feminist mother who thinks about this stuff all the time. And as Bitch PhD so brilliantly observed, if it is your job to keep an eye on the fairness in the relationship then you sure as shit ain’t the one with the power in that relationship.
Anyway, I’m going over to Jay’s blog later this week to join in the conversation over there and you should come too.