I’m not even sure if I should be talking about this, really, since I haven’t exactly figured out how to say what’s on my mind and I am probably going to horribly offend someone (unintentionally), but this is what I have been thinking about so that’s what you get.
Anyway, yesterday Mr. E and I were sitting around the dinner table and grousing about our respective days and I said something along the lines of “Oh, please, I’ve already done two loads of dishes AND I made dinner AND I put away all the laundry” and he looked at me and said “Yeah, but that’s your job.”
I was quick to inform him that no, raising our child was my job. Feeding and changing and entertaining a two year old is my job. All the rest of it, the laundry and the gardening and the mopping and the cooking, that’s just extra. In my humble opinion. Mr. E just changed the subject, I think, or we went to get ice cream or Eli started screaming about trucks, but the conversation really stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Because really, when you’re a Stay At Home Mom, who decides what your job is? In “traditional” couples, it’s a proven fact that no matter who does what or holds what job, the woman does more housework, and I know that even if I went to an office every day, I’d do more laundry, I’d make dinner more, I’d clean up the living room more. I just care more about that stuff.
But somehow having the cleaning and the cooking defined as my “job” rankles.
And it’s tied up with the fact that when you’re a SAHM, there’s a very real undercurrent passing all about you – a constant implication on the part of the world that you’re a slacker. And so you begin to spend a lot of time trying to prove to the world, to yourself, that you DO work hard. That you work JUST AS HARD if not harder as anyone else. Before you know you’re in some kind of never ending competion with your husband – at the end of the day you throw his cushy office job in his face and he bitches about he has to get up at 6 am EVERY SINGLE MORNING and doesn’t get to lie around in the yard reading books, EVER.
And the truth is I don’t get up at 6 am, and I don’t want to. I don’t miss my office job because I never really liked making photo copies and taking meeting minutes that much. On the other hand, I won’t lie, digging poop out of someone else’s scrotum three times a day doesn’t exactly light my pants on fire either. So there’s that.
I can’t figure out where it comes from – this need to prove all the time just how damn hard I’m working, the lists I recite of all the petty shit I completed at the end of the day. It’s a constant defensiveness, an endless competition I signed myself up for.
It’s not because of Mr. E, it’s really not – my husband never fails to tell me that he thinks I’m a great mom, that he appreciates everything I do, that he’ll do whatever he can to help. He takes over baby duty the second he walks in the door and most nights he doesn’t relinquish it until it’s time for Senor Pants to go to bed.
And what prize am I angling, for exactly? What do I hope Mr. E will say after I rattle off all I’ve done in a day? Because if I ask him to make dinner, he will. If I ask him to bring me a glass of wine, he will. If I ask him to let me read a book by myself and if I ask him to pick green beans while I sit and read my book and drink my wine, he will.
I tell myself that maybe I should just stop complaining about the laundry and the dishes. Maybe I should stop listing off everything I’ve done and expecting some kind of prize at the end of the litany. Maybe I should admit to myself that since my husband makes ALL the money, and I don’t work outside the home, that this shit IS actually kind of my job.
And yet, I can’t. I just can’t. And I have no idea why.