Here I go again with a Working Mother Magazine inspired post. Part of me thinks I should just “unfollow” them, but then again, it’s giving me some good blog fodder… This time, it’s the “Chore Wars”, an article about a study they did, the link seems to be showing up in my news feed every 20th post because it’s “sponsored” (and because they’ve posted at least 4 different posts about the same article). Just the title makes me squirm, but the study, the couple they interviewed, and the comments that have followed… those tick me off.
Check the study out for yourself, but the short version is they interviewed couples about the division of household labor, and found that we’re apparently still living in the 1950’s. Then they’re asking their readers to play into this by posting pictures of themselves doing the chores and using the hashtag “#chorewars”. In other words, they are encouraging women to complain, and they are perpetuating the idea that this should be a “war”.
I’ve talked to countless women over the years, women who are my friends, former colleagues, acquaintances in online “mom groups”, who are frustrated because they feel that their partners don’t pitch in, that they take on the majority of the household and childcare responsibilities. I will say the same thing here that I say to them – we can’t just sit back and blame the men. If there’s an imbalance in your household, you own half of that simply by allowing it to exist. If you don’t like it, do something about it.
Now, my household isn’t perfect – I’m not perfect and my husband isn’t perfect. We have our own issues for certain, and we don’t have a perfect 50/50 balance of responsibilities. But I own that. If there is something I need or want Mr Imperfect to do, and I don’t communicate that, I can’t resent him for not doing it. There are also some things that I simply won’t let him do because I have a couple of anal retentive tendencies (understatement) and I want things done a certain way. To me, that means that I cannot resent having the responsibility of that chore. I can’t be pissed that I’m always the one cleaning the bathrooms, or vacuuming the house, or washing the floors if I would just be dissatisfied by the way he did it.
When it comes to the childcare, yes, I’m the “primary parent”, as in, I’m the one who’s pretty much always here. But we share the responsibilities when we are both here. He does his share (maybe more than) of getting up in the night with our girls, and has done so since EC was a newborn. EC didn’t nurse, so he as capable of taking care of her needs as I was from almost day one. YC did nurse, but he still got up some of the time and brought her to me in bed to nurse so that I didn’t have to get up. Even when I stopped working full time, he understood that it didn’t mean I was entering a life of leisure, and he continued to do his share. He also encourages me to go out and do things on my own while he watches the kids, and occasionally takes them away for entire days or overnights so I can have time to myself in my own home!! (Oh, and a minor pet peeve: When Daddy takes care of the kids – that’s not “babysitting”, it’s parenting.) Am I spoiled? Not in the least, because I not only need that time, I deserve that time.
I like to believe that there are two major reasons that we work in tandem this way. One is that I wouldn’t put up with anything less. The other is that it’s who Mr Imperfect is as a person… which kind of goes back to the first reason, because I probably wouldn’t have married him if he wasn’t that way – an equal partner. So some might say that I got lucky (which I won’t deny), but I also take credit for myself in the fact that I have no problem expecting my partner to do his fair share and letting him know that.
So the long and short of it? Ladies, if you feel like you’re pulling all the weight around the house, and it makes you unhappy, DO SOMETHING about it! If you aren’t making clear what it is you need, you don’t get to complain about not having it.