I started writing this post last year and embargoed it. Firstly because I thought my husband would think I was having a 'dig,' (maybe I am, maybe I am not ;)) but also because I like to write about things when they are topical too. As this video has gone viral, I figured it is pretty topical. I also know it is relevant everyday, in lots of households (not all though, I know and am not generalising so please don't think I am stereotyping or judging). Also, it has just been Mother's Day and today is International Women's Day, so women are in the limelight this week in particular.
I often start my blogs off by brainstorming or sometimes I just type straight out onto WordPress. This one started, "What made you think?" What made you think when we bought our house it would be me that had to clean our house? What made you think I would have to buy our food, cook our dinner, wash our clothes, hoover, put our clothes away, tidy our house? When we had our children, what made you think I would have to get up every time they needed feeding, everytime our children needed their nappies changing, their clothes changing? Why did I have to wake and tend to them when they needed their teething gel or Calpol? What made you think I would do every nappy change, do every doctor run, hospital trip? What made you think I would do most bath times and bedtimes for our children? When did our responsibility become my responsibility? I know this sounds quite heavy and I am sure there hasn't been a man that hasn't woken up the odd time in the night or picked up the hoover once. It was just raw feelings written down at that time.
We are still struggling in a 'Man's World.' Although I know things are positively changing with 'Paternity laws' and more 'Stay-at-home fathers.' In my time, it was natural girls went to University and this will remain so. When we as women have our children though, it changes. As we are carrying our children we do have to take time off to give birth and raise them through maternity leave. As mothers we do also have a bond that makes us want to do this too (even though it's hard). We do have brains too though, and we would like to use that degree and education too. Could we be less exhausted and achieve more with our careers if things were split at home and with the children 50/50?
The video shown in the first paragraph did make me teary, for a few reasons. Firstly the fact the father had realised this is what he had been like and it had been learned behaviour. Also, he acknowledged the son-in-law's father was probably like that too. It made me emotional as it was proof that once people reflect on themselves and see clearly, they can change. Also, that it is better late than never. I also felt deeply for the mum who was probably run-ragged. She probably got lots of migraines (was she sick with her migraines?), I bet she didn't have time to go to the toilet, or eat fruit. I bet she got coldsores too when she was shattered from running around like a blue-arsed fly, trying to keep her career under wraps but also look after the needs of all her children. Those needs that are bloody demanding. Those individual needs that don't just require running the children to school, doing homework, dressing them, buying new clothes, keeping on top of all their parties, social clubs, school events, buying presents for friends, buying the food shop, sorting doctor appointments, dealing with the worry and emotional exhaustion when they are poorly. Not forgetting all their washing, cooking dinner and ironing their uniform (and doing this on little sleep or no sleep). When you have done all this, they still want you, your time, your conversation. They want you to know what happened in class, to ask you if something their friend said in class was true, to ask what would happen if you mixed purple with yellow? How did Jesus come back to life? In all the chaos of everyday life, the children still want your conversation, they want to play card games and play Pie Face too.
I know society is changing and there are lots of fathers that get very involved with the childcare and the housework. I know circumstances are different everywhere, but I hope the video that has gone viral will make those see that they can shape the way the future will become for their children. Our children can have it all if we #sharetheload. Or the other option is to just get a cleaner ;)
Have you found that you definitely #sharetheload in your household? Do you both work and share the childcare and housework? Do you find it is still heavily mum doing the household chores and childcare whilst holding down a career? I would love to hear how things work in your home. Always remember that you have the choice to achieve the balance you want.