Having been married to a brilliantly strong and authentic woman for nearly 15 years, I’ve grown to think of myself as a budding feminist, of sorts. As most of us know, talk is cheap and our convictions are put to the test when we actually have to live out those convictions as a daily practice.
Let’s just say that over the course of the last two months, my commitment has been put to the test. My wife has been training to be a yoga instructor, a dream of hers that we have talked about pursuing for nearly 10 years. With the bulk of her trainings taking place during the evening and on weekends, I’ve had an eye opening opportunity to be a “working mom.”
First, a few details to clear up on the front end. I am not a woman, nor can I ever fully understand what that means in the context of a patriarchal society. Next, my wife, and countless other working mothers over the years, are absolutely magical human beings that most dudes (massively biased assumption, I know) tend to reduce down to a hot meal and a sex toy. I would argue that ignoring and failing to acknowledge the tireless, selfless toil of working (and stay at home) mothers has and continues to cause serious damage to the integrity of our social fabric. And how do I know this? Well, anecdotally, I’ve experienced things first hand. Not as a woman, of course, as that has an entirely different, yet puzzlingly related, set of challenges to overcome. I have merely been filling in for my wife and not really convinced I’m doing a good job at it.
Guys, you know that feeling when Friday afternoon rolls around and the thought rolls through your mind that, “ah, now I’ve got two days to do whatever the hell I want?” Reality check; working moms (even stay at home moms for that matter) don’t get two days to “do what they want.” They’re on all the time. And not just the, “mom, come wipe my booty” or “hey, have you made coffee yet?” kind of on. While the mentality of a large number of men is something along the lines of, “thanks for the great sex. I’m going golfing/mountain biking/fishing tomorrow for most of the day, what time’s dinner? I LOVE weekends,” moms are still at home, without two days off and no responsibilities, still wiping asses, scheduling the next doctors/dentists visit at the same time running on 3.5 hours of sleep because right after you pulled out, got cleaned up and fell immediately to sleep, two of the kids woke up, one with a pee soaked bed and the other with vomit every place but the toilet and now she’s cleaning up the half digested dinner she made while coordinating volunteers and babysitters for an all day event she’s got next weekend, for which dad can’t watch the kids because it’s his “day off.”
Sound familiar moms? Things at our house have certainly not been that crazy for me the past couple months, but if they had been… good lord!! How do you moms keep your shit together?!? I’ll say it to myself first, primarily because there’s not been any other options, TUNE IN! It’s not 1950 anymore fellas. If your wife works, help with the kids, as most likely it was a mutual decision to have them. Help out at home, pull some weight, not just the lawn mower. If your wife stays at home with the kids, figure out how to give her some time off to take care of herself. And maybe in general, explore the possibility that women are far more capable than society gives them credit for, especially since she’s been putting up with your shit for, how many years now?
Moms, both working and stay at home, y’all are amazing! I got just a taste of what it’s like and I feel like failed in the most fantastic ways. I spent way too much time with my eyes glued to a screen. I was short with the kids, for no good, or defensible reason. I’ve felt lonely, isolated, inadequate. I have the cooking creativity of a sea slug, but my wife never once complained. Each night she would happily eat each “new” iteration of tacos that I’d come up with. I’m all for an egalitarian household, but let me tell you, I’ve still got some work to do. That said, I am convinced that the amount of effort I put into authentically making my marriage better, tuning in to my family and my household and still doing real self care, things can only get better.
I’ve only got one chance at this life and I’d be a fool to throw it away.
Moms, I hear you. To my wife, I hear you and I’ll be attentive not only to your occasional calls for help, but to also build with you a place where we both know, deep in our being, what each needs such that we don’t regularly need to ask for help. I believe we exist to be better humans, making the world a better place for all of us. So, I’ll start small, in my home, and work out from there.