Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? The double parenting standards, moms versus dads comparisons and the social expectations.
Lately, while talking with my mom friends, we often get back on the same topic; the struggle of working/caring for our kids and the distribution of responsibilities with our spouses. Now, before I start, I need to say that I feel that me and my hubby we have managed to create a balance that works for us. And the part of our balance is letting go. But, there are still the standards of society bugging me, and from time to time, our own unrealistic expectations.
So, let’s start by imagining this scenario: if I where a work-from-home dad, freelancer who’s working on various projects at a time, while also writing short stories on his own site, read by thousands of people every month, who has his kids at home from daycare twice a week. A dad who’s playing with them, baking with them, raising them bilingually, and making sure they can talk and read well in their minority language. If I were this dad who does most of the cooking and cleaning, because he works from home anyway, nobody would think or say, that I should try harder on keeping home clean and on doing the laundry more. Because the working and caring for kids father would get all the praises in the world and an etiquette of one amazing dad, who’s putting his career on hold for the family’s sake. He’d get a high-five from the society, for managing to earn money and being a very much involved dad and husband.
Now, when a mom works from home like me, earns money and is trying to pursue her dream, she’s most likely being judged from time to time, for not doing enough for her family. For choosing to check her emails over playing with her kids. For not keeping the house clean enough. For not cooking healthy home-made meals enough. For not ironing her husbands shirts. For having stains on her place-naps. For being egoistic in pursuing her dreams. But also, for not really working full-time, for not contributing to the household enough, for not being a good example of an independent women to her daughters by choosing to stay-at home, and so on.
There’s more: when a dad works full-time then he’s earning money for his family, when a mom is working full-time, then she’s not willing to take care of her kids.
When a dad takes a kid to the playground, and he checks his emails for ten minutes during the half an hour time spent in the park, he’s an awesome dad playing with his kids. If a mom takes kids to the park for an hour, and is on her phone for 10 minutes, she’s a uninvolved mom.
If a dad cooks dinner and puts the kids to bed once a week, he’s a great dad. If a mother leaves kids once a week in the evening, she’s egoistic.
If a dad is left alone for a weekend with kids, people congratulate him for being amazing and keeping kids alive. If a mom stays with kids alone for a week, she’s just doing her job.
When a dad changes a baby diaper while at a restaurant, he’s a keeper and such an involved dad. When a mom changes diapers every day, she’s doing what’s expected of her.
When a mom cleans after dinner 5 days a week, and she’s too tired to clean the other 2, she’s a slacker. If a dad cleans after dinner twice a week, he’s really helping her at home.
They all sound a bit familiar don’t they? Through social media, traditional media, or our friends reactions we must have heard them all. And the sad part is that, the more we hear them, the more we tend to doubt ourselves and then the famous mom-guilt creeps in.
Now, I think that whatever works for a couple is good. I do have a friend who does all the house work, and she’s totally fine with it, as her husband is the one working and doing a lot of overtime. But this is not the norm anymore.
And as we all know, it takes two people to bring a child to this world, so can we start seeing these two people as equally responsible for the child too? And if there are two adults living at home, then I say they are both equally responsible for their household too. Now, how they’ll make it work for them and how they’ll divide their task is their choice for sure.
But let’s just stop with 19th century expectations and double standards shall we?
And if one more person will congratulate me on my husband “helping me at home” I might just lose it. He’s just doing he’s part and I’m doing mine.