Equal, but Different, Part 2 (Finally!)

I’ll just jump straight into it, shall I?

When you start talking about what a woman should and shouldn’t do, and Feminism, and Equality, you’d better be ready to make some people mad.

I’m ready.

This post is not about what I’ve read or what science or statistics tell us.  It’s about what I’ve observed during the course of my life, and what I believe.  I already told you what some statistics suggest and what the various arguments are.  I’ve had some wonderful comments, all of which were honest and adult, and all made excellent points.

First, I’ll start by saying that I think equality is very important.  If I decided to go become, say, a college professor, then if my experience and qualifications are equal to my male counterparts, I should get paid equally.  We should be treated equally.  This seems like common sense to me.  Equal pay for equal work and all of that.

Here’s the thing–equality is great, but just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do something.  I could go to work tomorrow if I wanted to.  But I don’t.  I want to stay home and take care of my family.  Why?  Because–gasp!–I think that is my job.

I said it.

I am a woman.  I don’t think my husband is better than me, but we are different, and I don’t just mean in all of the obvious ways.  Some of the comments suggested that they didn’t want to go back to the little wifey being tethered to the house, but it’s not about that. It’s about responsibility.  When I elected to become pregnant and have babies, it became my responsibility to take care of those babies.  I’m sure someone will say they have ten kids and all ten are by different daddies and they were all raised in daycare and now they are all attending Ivy League schools.  Great.  But the truth is that no one can take care of my kids the way I do.

No one.

Every time I go to the store, I see some little old lady with a little kid.  When Evelyn had her last 24 hour EEG, there was a three-year-old little boy having one in the next room, and it was his grandmother who stayed with him.  Now, I don’t know what the situation might have been, and I guess I’m passing judgement, but the fact remains that if I hadn’t been able to stay with my daughter during that test, well, the test would have been rescheduled until I could have.

I know some people need that second income,  but let’s be honest–sometimes it’s to maintain a lifestyle, not to provide necessities.  And sometimes, it’s just because a woman couldn’t imagine being “tethered” to the home.

That’s what pisses me off the most–the fact that somehow working women are more impressive than me.  They are juggling a career and a family.  But sometimes, I think they are dropping the ball.

Even as a wife, I find myself in support of a more traditional role.  I do most of the cooking and cleaning and laundry.  My husband is a wonderful partner, and all of my teasing is just that–teasing.  He is a wonderful father who has never turned up his nose at a poopy diaper or a vomiting child.  He is an excellent cook, and he enjoys cooking from time to time. We are a team, and I couldn’t function without him.  But ultimately, he’s the provider and I’m the stay at home mom.  And I like it like that.  Know what?  I’m better at being the wife and mom, because for whatever reason you want to believe–divine design, evolution, whatever–women are made for that role.  It fits.  I feel very comfortable and safe with my husband.  It’s silly, but I feel like nothing bad can happen when he’s with us.

For some reason, the family seems to be under attack in our society.  It’s no big deal to get a divorce if things get tough.  It’s perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to have sex with as many people as possible, with no attachments or responsibilities.  If you wait to have sex until you get married, people make fun of you.  Women are constantly lamenting that there are “no good men” to find, but I wonder if they ever stop and realize why.  I would love to know their definition of a good man–it seems like it might be a man with no opinion of his own that cleans, cooks, and expects absolutely nothing in return.  Conversely, I think men are so disillusioned that they want a hot little woman who also has no opinion and waits on them hand and foot and has sex whenever he wants with no physical expectations of her own.  It’s not so hard to figure out why half of all marriages end in divorce, is it?

(There is a whole other topic here, about how in our modern society we are raised to be always right, and how we cannot bend even a little, and so all of our relationships tank.  I’ll just skate on past that for now.)

I see husbands and wives who not only don’t get along, they seem to actually hate each other.  The way they talk to and about each other is mind-boggling.

Then there is this whole other topic of teen pregnancy.  I live in an area where this is a huge problem, and it was even when I was in high school a hundred years ago.  Scroll back up and read about granny taking care of the babies–that’s generally what happens.

I’m not even going to touch on the pressure that is on women to look a certain way.  I wonder what modern Feminists think about that?

This has been quite rambling, and I’m sorry.  Here’s the heart of it all–modern women are supposedly enlightened, empowered, and ready to take over the world.  The crux?  Just about every modern woman I know is unhappy.

Out of all the women I know, I would say 95% of them take some sort of mood stabilizing drug.  That’s a conservative estimate.  Many are unhappy with their relationships, they can’t control their kids, they’ve been divorced, they hate their jobs, they are totally unsatisfied with the way they look–the list goes on forever.  So if we are so empowered, why are we so unhappy?  You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.

I’m not going to kid you–sometimes I get unhappy, too.  I have a naturally dark, moody type of personality.  I always have.  But the things I worry about are different.  I worry about my kids, and if they are going to be okay.  I worry that I won’t be able to protect them forever.  Some people might think I’m overprotective, and that I hover over my kids.  An acquaintance of mine made the comment during a soccer game a couple of months ago that I was a little overprotective.  I bit my tongue and just smiled, but what I wanted to tell her was that I thought she was little too permissive, and that I wasn’t comfortable dumping my kids off somewhere and then heading in the opposite direction as fast as I could go.  But I digress.

So–long, long story a little shorter, I do think women are selling themselves short by trying to do everything.  I think it’s okay for a woman to stay at home and take care of her home and her family, and she should be able to do that without feeling bad about it, or feeling unimportant.  I think it’s okay to embrace being a woman.  I don’t want to do everything that a man does.  I think my job is just as valuable, maybe more so.  I’m better at it.  Sure, it’s hard sometimes, but that’s okay–I was made for it.

What about you?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Hi, My Name Is…….Um……What Was My Name Again?

This post is related, albeit very indirectly, to another post I wrote about having wanderlust.  One of my points about having wanderlust was that when you live in the same small community all of your life, people have a LOT of preconceived notions about who you are.  If you’re not careful, this can lead to a full-blown identity crisis.

As a mom, this is always in danger of happening anyway.  Our kids define us, but at the same time, they sort of suck the you out of you–it’s a vicious circle, isn’t it?  I think all moms fall victim to that “I’m so-and-so’s mom” thing.  This is partly our own fault, because we allow it to happen–even encourage it at times.  (Unless the kid is doing something bad–then they must belong to someone else.)

I don’t know if I’m hormonal (likely), if my nerves are shot (also likely), or if I’m just losing my mind (most likely), but it seems like this person that used to be me has completely vanished.  I don’t even know her anymore.  I tried to think of the last time someone actually said my first name out loud, and I’m coming up with nothing here, people.  Hopefully my memory is just bad (it is) but I don’t think that’s all it is.  Consider the following:

  • I seldom (never) go to the doctor, but there are a lot of people in this house, so it always seems like somebody is going to the doctor or dentist all the time, and I’m the coordinator.  In other words, I constantly start telephone conversations like this: “Hi, this is Evelyn’s mom,” or “Hi, this is Matt’s wife,” or “Hi, this is Mindy’s sister….” you get the idea.  (I had some dental work done several months ago, and I think the main reason I liked all of them so much is they all called me by my first name.)
  • I have officially reached the age where I am “Mrs. Last Name.”  This bothers me more than anyone could ever, ever understand.  I can correct people and they will keep doing it anyway.  It’s not that I mind having the name or anything, but I have always connected that Mrs. Last Name thing with old people.  Now it’s me.
  • Everyone around knows The Grandfather.  He’s a Baptist minister, so when I say everyone, I literally mean it.  Remember when I said that some of this is partly our own fault? I’m guilty here–if someone doesn’t know me, I say, “I’m The Grandfather’s granddaughter.” They immediately know who I am.  I have more about this, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
  • My sister is almost as well-known as The Grandfather.  When we are out, we run into people who know her, and I don’t have a clue who they are.  Here comes the kicker.  These kind but ultimately  upsetting people say, “Are you Mindy’s mom?”  Now, what goes through my mind is, “Screw you, asshole, I’m three years older than her! WTF?” What I actually say and do is grin really big and say, “No, I’m her sister.” Then she giggles the rest of the day.  I guess at least it’s making her happy. Sigh.
  • People are constantly telling my mom, “You can’t be old enough to have a daughter that old!”  While this is a compliment to my mother (who really doesn’t look old to enough to be my mom) it certainly isn’t a compliment towards me.

What happened here?  My whole life is wrapped up in other people.

Now, before anyone feels compelled to give me a lecture about how fortunate I am to be surrounded by my family and loved ones, and how wonderful it is that they depend on me as much as they do, do me a favor and shut up.  Save your breath.  I know I’m fortunate.  I have the best friends now that I have ever had, and I met them because of my kids.  I always felt sort of pointless, but when my kids were born, that went away.  I believe my job in life is to be a caretaker, and I’m okay with that.  It suits me.

What I don’t understand is how I went in so completely.  People assume a lot about me because of who I’m related to.  Here’s that thing with The Grandfather I was talking about:  A couple of years ago, before I gave up on a lost cause and started homeschooling my son, I was attending our local school board meetings and trying to do things to improve our local schools.  I was all set to give my first of a few impassioned speeches, and my turn was up.  Just as I was about to stand, the board president (against whom I have nothing personal, but who always reminds me vaguely of Patrick Star) said “Aren’t you The Grandfather’s granddaughter?” The eyes of the other members lit up as well.  Now, when my sister was in school, The Grandfather was a terror at all board meetings, demanding handicap accessibility and a million other things.  He would make a point to get quoted in the paper.  Now, The Grandfather is a good man, but very, um, frank (yeah, that’ll have to do) and he just says whatever he thinks.  So immediately all of the people there who knew him sort of braced themselves, and I felt I had a reputation earned for me before they had ever even met me.  I don’t mind too much, because I think, in all honesty, I’ve quite lived up to that reputation, but still……

Isn’t it ironic? We spend our youth trying to “find ourselves” and then we spend our adulthood trying to recover who we were when we were young.  Blah.  I don’t want to be a teenager again–no thanks.  I have no desire to live just for myself, because I think that is a selfish, unhealthy way to live.  What I want is to have someone form an opinion about me that has something to do with who I actually am.

I’ll let you know just as soon as I figure that out.  In the meantime: Hi, my name is Janice.

 

Love Hurts, but Fashion Kills

I saw David and Victoria Beckham at Sheetz today.

Well, not really.  They popped into my mind, though, when I saw this young couple there browsing through the touch screen menu.  I am fascinated by people like this. Or maybe I’m jealous.  I’m still trying to decide.

The Sheetz-Beckham’s were dressed to the nines–casual yet still uber-stylish.  The woman in particular was a study in fashion.  She had perfectly “casual” blonde locks, sleek pants and perfectly picked pink shoes, two or possibly three layers of god-knows-what on top, and, Lord help us all, a thumb ring.  The guy was wearing those purposely distressed pants with the giant belt (which apparently came back into fashion at some point while I was in the motherhood cave for the past ten years–I don’t know) and a button-up shirt.  Here’s the best part–they were wearing aviator sunglasses!  They matched, except hers were rose colored (there’s a joke there, I just know it, but I’m going to let it go.)  Now, even though they looked super hip in every other aspect, I have to say I’m not a big fan of aviators.  Only one person looks hot in them, and that’s Johnny Knoxville.  I don’t know why that is, I only know it is.

Aside from the minor sunglass faux pas, they were immaculate.  I couldn’t help but cringe as I stood there in Sheetz in my usual attire–jean shorts and my Pink Floyd tee shirt (black).   They even had that cool, casual attitude that I envy so much.  Meanwhile, Ian and I were juggling onion rings and I was trying to answer the cell phone and dig in my purse for money.  All I could think was, “Who the hell are these people?”  Obviously, they don’t have kids.   Or family.  Or a house to clean.  Or grass to cut.  Or normal bodily functions, like, say, sweat, which I now produce at a rate of two gallons per hour.  Fashion, to me at least, is a little more basic.

 

Remember this from Saturday Night Live?  While I don’t rock Mom Jeans yet, this is about the level of my fashion expertise.  I don’t wear makeup.  I don’t paint my nails.  My husband has more shoes than me.  Also, I sure as hell  don’t wear aviator sunglasses.  It’s not that I don’t want to look nice–believe me, I do.  I don’t get it, though.  I’m a fashion idiot.  Oh, I can sit back and criticize other people’s fashion all day long, but I don’t apply it to myself.  I try those nifty, trendy clothes, but I always feel like some kid playing dress-up.  For whatever reason, I’m stylistically crippled.  I love to look at beautiful clothes–on other people, of course.  I think those hot little shoes just look stupid on me.  Once, I decided that I was by-God gonna paint my toenails.  I did it, then I sat for about five minutes looking down at them, and finally I freaked out and cleaned it all back off again.  It looked absolutely ridiculous.  But I don’t think other people’s feet look ridiculous when they paint their nails.  My friend and her daughters paint their nails all kinds of cool colors like blue and funky pinks and purples, and I think they look great.  I’d look like an escapee from a mental institution.

I could blame motherhood on my issues, but anyone who knows me would know this is not the absolute truth.  I’ve been this way–jeans and tee-shirts, no makeup, no style–since I was old enough to pick my own clothing.  The only difference is now I have a lot of convenient excuses.  I turn up my nose and say things like, “I don’t have time to dress nicely.  It doesn’t fit in my lifestyle.  I bathe people and feed people and change diapers and garden and use a gas powered weed-eater and ride a four-wheeler.  I can’t do those things in heels.”  The truth is, though, I’m just too chickenshit to give it a shot.  I would love to have the confidence to stroll around with cool indifference in my hot, hip shoes and painted nails and a thumb ring.

You can keep the aviators, though. I guess fashion just isn’t for me.  I’ll just sit and criticize everyone else.  It’s a lot more fun.   I’m going to go watch “Jackass.”

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