Friday, March 7, 2014

Why Can't a Woman Be More like a Man?

Hello there! Have you got your cup of room-temperature coffee by you, still in your robe as the dryer hums (sending the message: "Yes, I AM working today. I did laundry!") You may even have poured Pine-Sol in the sink or toilets, because if it smells clean, YOU cleaned it. Well done, you!

Note: This may or may not be reflective of the author's current status as she sits at the computer, wondering why she told her daughter she'd write "something" if she got 500 followers on Twitter. Accountability to your children is such a burden sometimes.

Anyway. . .

If you're a man, some of what I just described at the beginning may sound similar to what you'd do, but not all of it. Oh, you might have the robe (especially if you're a dad and your partner said, "Put SOMETHING on. NO, your underwear doesn't count. NO, the children shouldn't see you like that. NO, it doesn't matter that they've seen it all before." You might even have the coffee - or a leftover Monster - or beer. (There's almost always beer.) The key difference? The housework. Did you feel the need to defend yourself to yourself as you sat around doing nothing on this last week before Daylight Savings Time? Doubtful.  If you're not productive on a "day off" - do you go on a guilt trip accompanied by your mother's voice? I don't think so.  (The whole concept of having that conversation inside your head is enough to make you think, "Oh, shit. Don't do this to me. Don't ask me questions. You're gonna yell, aren't you?) 

(Oops. The dryer stopped. Wrinkled clothing will give me away, and I'm not in the mood to spray Wrinkle Release on everything. Pardon me.)

(Of course, that's EXACTLY how I'm dressed, especially when it's raining and 40 degrees outside. One always wears stockings and heels while folding the family's underwear. Hope you like my pedicure.)

Now, where was I?

Oh, if you're a man, dirty dishes might have made it to the sink (if you forgot to buy paper plates and plastic forks) -  or the dishes may be stacked waiting until you finish a movie or reach triple digits playing Flappy Bird. The thing is, your day off is just that. A day OFF. I've not met many men who ask themselves if they can fit in time for a haircut and the laundry, the yard or picking up the kids from school. It goes a little more like this:

  1. Walk by a mirror
  2. Notice your hair 
  3. Think, "I need a haircut,"
  4. Announce, "I'm gonna get a haircut. I'll be back." If feeling magnanimous, ask, "Do you need anything while I'm out?" as your partner picks up the dog poo and lets in the cat.
  5. Leave.

With any luck, you didn't leave the toilet clogged (it is the morning and you had your coffee), or a something frying on the stove. If you're feeling particularly ambitious - and the weather's right, you'll go to the car wash, too (and congratulate yourself for being so hardworking.)

I can't imagine how streamlined this process is. It's so logical. Practical. Freeing, almost.


Except, I'm not wired that way, and I don't believe many women are. Oh, sure, we're going to fight to shatter the glass ceiling. . .but we're the ones genetically predisposed to want the mess of that ceiling cleaned up. NOW. 

My tween daughter told me one day (soon after the "health talk" in middle school) that if reincarnation exists, she'd want to come back as a man. "It's so much simpler for them, Mom." she remarked. "Don't you think so?" 

"Yes." I agreed, "it is." I hugged her and said, "That should help you now - and as an adult. Keep your eyes and ears open - and know what you want from your life later on."

I shared this conversation with another, who commented, "It's a shame that she sees it's unfair already."

I disagree. It's not a shame that she saw the difference. It shows she has insight into who we are.

We have evolved, for better and worse, to the state we are in today. Some of the girls in her class want to be known for their beauty or their athleticism, while others focus on intelligence or creativity. In school, students can be labeled geeks or jocks or snobs or drama queens. The thing is, males aren't required to choose between family and career after they grow up, while females are. It may not seem fair, but life never is. We're all wired to find balance, delegate and manage our needs with those of people we love (and keep their voices from drowning your own inside your head), but women either work harder to prove they belong in a man's world, or make sacrifices to (in her heart and mind) ensure the stability of her family. Men may have some of those conflicts, but, c'mon, a good partner raising your children or earning an income to support the family simplifies things immensely.

Oh, if you think your children won't be affected being raised by someone other than a parent or close relative,  that's another conversation. ;) We'll leave that for the week I have PMS. Bring chocolate and wine.

Usually, women are either career-minded or family-minded, but not both at the same time - because it IS hard. You might be able to have it all, but certainly not all at once. A man CAN have it all: career and family, because being a man makes it easier to earn more money, more quickly in our job market. In addition,  his DNA allows him time. Studies may show that older sperm may contribute to health problems in offspring, but that doesn't mean the man in charge doesn't enjoy sending his little swimmers on a trip if the diving board retained its rigidity. ;) Women have to make choices earlier, and decision-making can be a pain in the butt when you've dealt with the minutiae at work or at home, or both - and society expects you, and you expect you to be at the top of your game, no matter if the game is at home or away on a business trip.

You're going to want a day off.

The thing is, it never quite works that way. We are no more wired to just leave it all alone for day than we are to leave an abandoned puppy in a parking lot. We can put things off with great skill for a time, but compartmentalizing our lives the way a man can and usually does? Not so easy - and I'm glad I'm that way. Finding balance between home and work, family and self is a skill we all need. This is my life now. It will change once my child is an adult, but if she sees the choices I made, and her grandmothers made as well, as well as the choices of successful women in business, politics, science, technology or entertainment - and it influences how she wants to live her life for the better? That's EXACTY what she needs (as well as a day off every once in awhile).

Now, if you'll excuse me. it's too quiet in the house, so I need to start the dishwasher and spray some Lysol and furniture polish. ;) 

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