Monday, 11 March 2013

Generation Gap? Let's Call it a Divide.

Hello Readers,

Let's mix ourselves a martini, Mad Men-style, because we're about to regress to the 1950's.


On Sunday Dan took LB to go and visit his grandmother. I didn't go with them for two reasons:

(a) I didn't want to put my German thinking cap on that day; and

(b) Dan said, "Why don't you stay home and have some time for yourself. I'll look after LB."

I don't think he finished his sentence before I slammed the door on them and jumped on the couch with my book.

It was a lovely three hours that I thoroughly appreciated.

When he got home, Dan told me that his grandma was a little...surprised...that Dan was taking care of the baby all alone. When Dan's grandma noted that she was surprised that Dan was looking after LB all alone, he cheerfully replied that we're an equal household and twice a week he even does laundry.

According to my dear husband, his grandmother was quick to exclaim, "Laundry?! But you do so much already. Does she at least cook?!"

Let's break the above down, shall we. What she was really saying was this: You are the man and you work in the office. You should not do housework. Your wife is home all day long so why isn't she doing the laundry? Does she just sit around and eat bon-bons? Also, she should be looking after the baby on a Sunday. You poor man who works at the office five days a week.

Dan further reminded his grandmother that I also have a job, to which she replied, "Oh, she works..."

I am annoyed.

I refuse to just shake my head and say, "Oh those octogenarians. Cheez Whiz."

Ever since I moved here I have had a job where I work from home, but it has been made blatantly clear to me that since I am not leaving my house to go sit in a cubicle, I don't have a real job. It is shocking how many times I have had to say "Yes, I have a job," only to have some arrogant person (WHO HAS ASKED ME THIS QUESTION FIVE TIMES BEFORE) say, "Oh, really?"

So now we have our sweet LB. I am her primary caregiver during the day and once she goes to bed, I work.

The reverse is now happening, "You work." 


All of sudden people now believe me I work, and aren't too thrilled about it.

I have a baby. I shouldn't also have a job.

I can't win.

So what is really itching away under my skin is the expectation that once a woman has a baby, her whole life is now supposed to be devoted to the raising of this tiny being. This expectation does not fall on the man's shoulders, and I call bullshit on anyone who dares make an excuse about why this is, ranging from: women are better at it, to, men aren't as parental.


Who in this day and age (besides the Hutterites, Amish, and Swiss grandmothers), honestly believes that men should not have an active role in the maintaining of a household and the care of their children?  Are gender roles so firmly established that it's still just assumed that women should be the ones to run the kidlets to the playground and fry up the T-Rex their hero dragged home, while their cavemen sit on the couch, drink beer, burp, and wait for the day their sons can bludgeon an animal to death and their daughters can fix their socks?

Are people really such assholes that they assume a woman derives 100% satisfaction from raising her children and sweeping the hearth, and wants nothing more?

History is littered with women scratching at the walls because they want to be more than caregivers, but the opportunities weren't allowed. And now, today--when we can climb higher than ever before--we face judgement  and expectation that we must stay cemented to the home simply because we have the womb that carried the child so we're not supposed to acknowledge wanting a place for ourselves outside the place we carried them.

Now I feel like I have to give an obligatory "sorry to hit you in the face with this obvious information" disclaimer, but otherwise people are going to twist my words back on myself: I am overjoyed to be LB's mama. I am so in love with that little girl, I look at pictures of her at night after she's gone to sleep and can't wait until she wakes up again. I love being the one she reaches for when she wants to give an aggressive spit-kiss. I love being the one who knows just what to do when she has reached her breaking point. I love being the person she looks for in a room, when she's not in my arms. I love being the one who plays silly games with her, and who tickles her until she shrieks. Also, I like working.

And spending three hours alone on a Sunday while she's with her dad.

You know what else I love?

I love how Dan is the only one who gives her a bath, exactly how she likes it.  How he is the only one who knows how to do the earthquake game with her. How he is the one who cuddles her to bed, most nights.

I'd also love it if people would stop being such judgemental shitheads and realise we're in the 21st century here, and the family unit is not--never was--the content housewife and hero-husband. The family unit works however that family needs it to work, and if you don't get with the program you won't find me sitting on your uncomfortable 'turn of last century' sofa, anytime soon.


mom said...

Well said Cait, well said!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you!

BTW - interested in what sort of work you have! :)