Girls Poop Too
A few people in my family – my know-it-all, young adult, precocious, I raised them, what am I complaining about, children – think the word “feminism” is outdated. We have this discussion quite frequently. “Are you a feminist, Mom?” It’s a trick. They know what I’m going to say. I was born in the 60’s. Of course I am.
“Why are you still stuck in the dark ages? We are all equal. That’s what’s wrong with the world.” It’s my oldest son – again. He’s thinks he’s Buddha. Or Gandhi. I think he’s more like Leon Trotsky (mainly because he lives in a “permanent revolutionary” state) mixed with Neil deGrasse Tyson (for his “we are the world in an immeasurable cosmological way” dogma). Nothing is ever as simple as just washing the dishes when he’s around.
As usual, he keeps going. “We can’t keep putting people in groups – like women, blacks, gays, whoever. Then there is the tendency to rank one group as being better than another. We are all members of the human race. In fact, we are all part of the endless megacosm that is the universe. Did you know that even rocks breathe? Buildings breathe. Traffic breathes. Everything has a flow and life to it. It’s simply a matter of recognizing and accepting that – no more, no less.”
OK, OK, I get it. And “feminist” or “no feminist/lover of all things”, I would classify myself as someone who fervently supports equal rights. For men too, even though I don’t think they have a clue what it’s like to “do it all” per se.
For example, as much as my husband and I divide household chores – even in times when we are both equally busy with school or work – the laundry somehow falls on my shoulders, as does making sure the kids are still alive should they be throwing up uncontrollably. Put your foot down, you say. Just take a little “two day vacation” the next time someone complains that their stomach is feeling a little “off”.
Great suggestion, but it’s not that easy. In times of need, kids want their mothers. Well, mine do anyway. I’m nicer, that’s why. Even something as simple as heading off to lunch with a girlfriend when those little sick eyes are staring up at you from the couch can make a person feel guilty as hell. Men don’t seem to have the same trouble. “Just get a bucket,” says my husband. “He/she’ll be fine.” That’s his “not-quite-as-biologically-attached-because-he-never-birthed-anyone” attitude. No warm compresses from Daddy, my little ones. He’d rather go to the hardware store.
Admittedly, I’ve purposely stepped back a bit when it comes to my own career. I make room for the “kid” things, the “family” things, the “house” things. Why? Because someone needs to take care of that stuff. Sure, I could’ve hired a full time nanny/housekeeper. Some people do. I still could. The housekeeper anyway. The nanny seems a bit redundant for three spawn over the age of eighteen, even though emergencies – mostly mental ones – still seem to strike at our house almost daily.
Sadly, it broke my heart to put my kids in before- and after-school care for a few years so I could “make something of myself” – my words, nobody else’s. It’s hard for women. Trying to combine our roles as mothers, partners, and workers can be tricky. We work too much, we are neglecting our families. We spend all of our time with our families, we are being over-protective, helicopter-ish, not driven, unambitious, unduly selfless. We can’t win. If we put ourselves somewhere in the middle, we get to feel shitty about both.
My oldest son’s girlfriend is in law school. She just said the other day that she doesn’t know how she is going to manage both a career AND a family. How does a person do everything and be everywhere? Sorry, younger version of myself. I haven’t figured it out yet. I have absolutely NO advice to give. Maybe one thing. Just don’t tell your husband that you have a crush on The Rock or Mark Wahlberg. As open and as “new age” as he says he is, he’ll bring it up routinely, and then you’ll owe him sex – and it’ll happen on days when you are tired and bloated. Nobody wins then.
On the subject of “things women have to worry about that men don’t”, there’s also that whole issue of how we look, or how we should look, how we behave, or how we should behave. We are too fat, too skinny, too muscular, too loud, too opinionated, too wide in the vaginal region (of that, I do not joke). Fucking babies.
So many of us can’t go anywhere without our “face” on. It’s ridiculous, the expectation that as a woman I’m supposed to pretend – in so many ways – that I’m not real.
And what about that pooping business? Yeah, women do it. I’m not going to lie. And I’m not going to pretend that I don’t. Might as well start somewhere.