When the girls came home from school last year with laminated “My Daddy is…” artwork, I thought it was hysterical that “Doing the dishes” was listed next to “Daddy’s Job is…” I was only slightly embarrassed that neither of them thought to say the name of Roger’s company (which they both know well). I mostly just thought it was charming and cute that they both think it’s Daddy’s job to do the dishes. Clearly, they are getting the message that household chores are not exclusively women’s work. I gave myself a pat on the back – well done, feminist mama!
Of course, two months later, when they came home with laminated “My Mommy is…” artwork, I did not think it was quite as funny that they listed “Cooking” as Mommy’s job. What. The. Hell?
I confess, the feminist in me felt like a failure. But stepping back, I guess it makes sense. While of course Roger can cook – and he does, occasionally. But our schedules have always put me home at least an hour before him. So I end up cooking 99% of the time. And because I cook all the time, he ends up doing the dishes. When we talk about our jobs around the house, my job is cooking and his job is doing the dishes.
I don’t remember assigning the dish job to Roger, but he’s done it for as long as I can remember – long before we even had kids. I have no idea how he knew to do it – Lord knows it wasn’t modeled in his house growing up. His mother did everything in the kitchen. We lived with his parents in South Africa for a little while, and his mum and I would take turns cooking. When she cooked, I would do the dishes, but when I cooked, Roger would do them. Shortly after we moved in, Roger was standing at the sink washing dishes, and his mum tried to shoo him away. “Oh, Roger, go sit down. I just hate seeing you at the sink like this.”
I think I spat out my wine.
How that man came to be the (usually) helpful husband he is growing up in that house is one of life’s great mysteries. But I guess it just goes to show you that all the role modeling and influencing you think you’re doing for your kids is probably kind of pointless. They’re gonna become who they become despite what you do. Hell, probably in spite of what you do.
But who are we kidding? We’ll keep trying anyway. Because that’s really our job, right?
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