When I was a teenager, I had a very clear vision for my life. I would be a career woman at the top of the food chain. I would be married and have the perfect kids. I would easily be able to manage both career and family. At work, I’d be a go-getter. I’d run up the success ladder, kicking a$$ and taking names. Then after work, I would be super-mom….helping kids with their homework, having a nice, hot dinner at the table. The laundry would be neatly folded, and the bed made. I envisioned myself reading stories to the kids at bed time, and of course, saying good little Catholic prayers. Then, I’d wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Perfect wife, perfect life!
My reality has turned out to be far different.
Yes, I am married to a great man. I have the best kids a mother can ask for, and I am living my dream job.
But I am also a complete hot mess.
The pressure to do it all has given women unrealistic expectations of life as a working mom. As we speak, I have a laundry room full of dirty clothes. The clothes are literally pouring out of the hamper. I have a sink full of dishes, and about five dirty cups on the counter.
The beautiful dinner table….the one I envisioned using every night for family meals….is actually covered in laundry, mail, rotten fruit in a basket, and random toys. I cannot remember the last time we sat at this table together as a family.
I know, I know. First world problems, right?
Just hear me out.
When my mom was a young mother, the roles were clear: women stayed at home with the children while the men worked. As a result of your husband working hard all day, the wife was expected to take care of the kids, clean the house, do the laundry and have dinner ready on the table.
Fast forward to 2018.
Today, it is quite common to see women soar in their careers. We see more female CEOs, politicians, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. But when we get off work and return to our homes, are we still on the hook for all of those chores that are waiting for us?
The answer is complicated.
I think in 2018, more men DO help out around the house. My husband is an excellent cook. But I still think there is an unwritten rule somewhere that house chores are mostly “women’s work.” Our husbands watched their moms do it. My mother-in-law had her home very clean as my husband grew up. It was his reality. The same thing happened in my home. Even when my mom worked, she would always come home to her second job: making dinner, taking us girls to dance class or play rehearsal, clean, wash, rinse and repeat.
I work with a few men who travel regularly as a part of their jobs. They are gone for several days at a time, and they have stay-at-home wives to take care of business at home. I kind of get jealous as I watch them travel because I know they are doing it worry-free.
My job requires some traveling as well. But when I have to go out-of-town, I feel a tremendous sense of guilt. Don’t get me wrong. My husband is quite capable of taking care of our kids. But I feel the NEED to be home.
I am a part of a Leadership Development Program with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a fine, fine course, and I am learning so much. As a requirement of the course, we listen to monthly speakers. One particular day, this monthly speaker coincided with my daughter’s mandatory rehearsal for her dance recital.
I was in a tough spot.
Yes, my husband could bring my daughter to her rehearsal. But dancing was OUR thing. This is a journey that Lily and I had been on together. Only I knew the location of Lily’s assigned dressing room. Only I understood the components of her costume. Only I knew the classroom parent. Only I knew when Lily needed to be on stage. Only I knew her songs. Why? Because I am the dance mom!
Don’t get it twisted. This isn’t a slight on my husband. He also coaches Lily’s soccer team, and he led them to the spring championships, where they won these super-cool rings!
The fact of the matter is I WANTED to be at my daughter’s dance rehearsal. So, I spoke with my instructors, and had permission to leave the class early. Yes, I was missing a terrific speaker. But reality smacked me right in the face. As much as I want to do it all, I can’t. I just can’t. There. I said it.
I’m sure there are women out there who feel quite differently. They may even be insulted at what I just wrote. I can hear it now…..”of course women can do it all!! Are you trying to set back the movement?”
No, I’m not trying to set women back…not by a long shot. I am just speaking of my personal experience with being a working mom. I am speaking my truth.
Do men face similar battles when it comes to work vs. family? Or is this a conundrum that mainly affects women? I would love to hear what you think!!!! You can either leave a comment, or message me at Denise.Rowell@gmail.com.