Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Moms Do Too Much Work
Is there a more thankless job in society, in life, and in the family than being a mom? Anyone? Bueller?
As I was cruising the store tonight, knocking out some meager duties, I stumbled upon a thought that surprised me. Maybe it was just because I wasn't looking for it or maybe it was because I've had similar thoughts in the past, but never quite encompassed it all in one singular phrase.
Moms do too much work. That's it. It's there.
"That's brilliant, Zach! Did you discover the sky is blue, too?" you say. Okay, admittedly, it's not a wholly original thought. There are countless posts on the Internet about moms being overworked, under-appreciated, ect. And those posts are right to varying degrees, but my main point has a few sub-points to it -- which, in my opinion, makes this whole venture a different beast.
I'm not here to talk exclusively about how much work moms do. They do too much and the problem is we let them. We don't let them out of the graciousness of our hearts but, rather, we let them because we'd rather someone else do it, but not us. We're lazy. We're incredibly lazy, as a society, and yet we expect the mothers in our society to ...
Look like supermodels (you can't be a fat mom anymore, you have to be a thin and trim mom! Don't you dare not workout and get back to your pre-baby weight!), work at home and outside the home (no, you're not allowed to choose one, you have to do both, you need the income to support your family!), go shopping for the food (you're the cook, you have to pick up the ingredients, too!), cook the food (who else is doing that? The children are too young and the husband is tired!), do the housechores (yes, this has to be done in order to keep things looking good for unexpected guests and to keep your family safe from falling avalanches of laundry and dishes!), be a taxi driver (kids can't drive themselves!), keep the pets alive (children need companions, even if you're doing all the work, at least the kids are happy!), find the time to be an active parent in the school/church community (you have time for that! You can't not be part of your kids lives in the school, they need you there, too!), keep the husband happy (you better look like a supermodel and you better stay on top of the housechores, that way your husband doesn't leave you for someone younger and thinner! You have to keep his interest in the bedroom and outside it, take up a new hobby for him if you need to!), and be the number-one option for all holiday/vacation planning and packing (no one else can do it, it's just you!).
All that barely scratches the surface. Does anyone else feel overwhelmed? Is it any wonder mothers in our society just seem to burn out?
Notice something about all that I listed above; everything the mom was doing was for someone else. Not a thing in there was directly related to herself. Being a mom, you have no time for yourself in today's world. None. And if you try to make time for yourself, you're categorized as a selfish person.
Moms have an absolutely insane amount of things to do and exactly who steps up to help them?
"The children do when they get old enough!" you say. True point, but when exactly is "old enough"? Seven? Eight? Nine? Ten? It's unfair moms are waiting that long for aid.
Meanwhile, the husband is chilling in the living room, feet propped up, tea in hand, and he's complaining about not being able to find the remote.
The husband is where the help needs to come from. The husband is called to help. But it's like the husband gets a free pass here and I can't really understand why. The husband goes to work, comes home, and relaxes. Apparently, that's perfectly fine for the husband to do, even with children in the mix.
But the wives, the moms? They get no such luxury. "Look sexy, cook great food, shop, take care of the kids, clean the house, plan our social life, DON'T SCREW UP OR WE'RE DOOMED!" Society screams. The messages to moms basically boils down to "Do everything or nothing gets done" and moms step up, take the burden, and do.
Amazingly, they do. But we're killing them. We're killing them as individuals, as people who existed before being a mom, before being a wife, and we're taking that individuality, locking it in a dark room, and starving it to death. Slowly. Achingly.
We are failing our moms. Husbands -- men, males, guys, boys, dudes -- are failing the moms in our lives, whether that be our wives or own mothers. What exactly is our excuse?
"We work --" Yeah, so do the moms.
"We're tired --" Yeah, so are the moms.
"We have other things --" Yeah, the moms have other things to do, too!
It's failure, across the board. We demand SO MUCH from the moms and virtually nothing from the fathers. Society has given the green-light for guys to just kick back and let the women do the work.
And it's wrong. And I absolutely, positively, swear to the Internet (and the moms in my life, past, present and future) that I won't continue this trend. The workload for a mom is absolutely crushing and hardly anyone steps up. And, when someone does, the mom either feels relief (followed by guilt that they couldn't do it themselves) or frustration with herself for being less.
The mom is not less. And the father, the husband, should be much more.
Speaking from a religious point of view (since I've converting to Catholicism and all), marriage is a vocation -- a sacred duty. It's not easy, it's tough. It's two people working to build a life together with God as a very important component. It's here, in marriage, where children come about and the miracle of motherhood shows up.
"Yeah, and?" you say.
The father should do more than just contribute his genetic material to the whole thing, right? Sure, the father protects and takes care of the wife during the pregnancy period (and after it as well, one can easily argue) but it seems that, as the father, the male just kinda takes a hands-off approach when it's all said and done.
And that simply isn't the way things were intended. Christ and the Church are married, in a sense -- Christ is the groom and the Church is his Bride. Christ is present in the Church always; as Catholics, we are called to model ourselves after Christ.
We certainly can't be present in the lives of our wives/moms all the time (we're not divine beings, after all) but we certainly can strive to be more present in the lives of our wives/moms and to help them as Christ helps the Church.
"Well, what if I don't care about the religious stuff?" you say. Fine, junk that if you want to: are you telling me the 95/5 split that society has placed on the mother/father dynamic is right? That's 95 percent of the work is done by the mom and 5 percent by the father -- maybe a tad over-dramatic an estimate (probably closer to 90/10 or 80/20) but the large majority of the work in the family is done by the mom.
Why is that right? I don't understand why. As I sit here and type I just got off a seven-hour shift. I spent my day off yesterday cleaning out the garage, working out, and playing football. I spent this morning doing some studying (Catechism Lesson 27), troubleshooting some tech for my brother, and attempting to find a gift for an upcoming birthday (no success as of yet).
I am 26. I am a male. I work 30+ hours a week, usually. November and December killed my social life (little there was to kill). I do work, I do chores around the house, I do things outside the house that I don't have to do. I have plenty of energy (evidenced by this very post at this very hour). Why is it that I can do these things now but, if/when I get married and if/when I am blessed with children, my abilities will falter?
"You'll be older. Life will take it out of you by that point," you say. Granted, a possibility, but I'm in the best shape of my life. I've been in the best shape of my life every year since I turned 24. I don't plan on going back to this.
I will never be that again. It's dead and gone. I will, quite literally, die first before going back to that. Quote me on that. Hold me to that. Count it as fact.
I don't plan on being one of those fathers who kick back and get large when kids enter the picture. I'm going to stay in shape. I'm going to stay fit and healthy, I'm going to get better as I go along. I'm aiming to age like fine wine.
That said, I won't be a husband who lets his wife do all the work. I'm not that. I can't be that and I challenge all the guys out there to not be that. Don't let her do all the work, don't let her drown under the crushing weight of it all fellas, we're better than that. We've been designed to be better than that but society and our own inherent laziness has made it easy to just shrug.
I promise the following (and Internet, hold me to this -- you know how I like being held accountable, wouldn't be here if I wasn't held accountable before):
1. I'm not going to let my wife do all the work. I'm aiming for a 50/50 split, ideally, and, really, I could probably do 70/30 of it and be fine -- I just plug away at chores and stuff, and adding the madness of children won't kill me. I thrive on madness.
2. If I get so lucky to have kids, I will encourage them to follow my example -- you put in your share of work and don't be lazy. It's easier said than done, I grant you, but I won't be the father who comes home, kicks back, and watches the mom do everything. I can do things and I will.
3. I'm going to preach this as often as opportunity allows. Gentlemen, there needs to be a reality check amongst the males of the species. We're placing far too much on the shoulders of the moms and not enough on the fathers. The split is skewed, society is allowing it to skew, the guys aren't correcting the skew, and it's wrong. Spread the word: Moms do too much work.
That's it for me. Thanks for reading and God Bless.