True Parent 2
I never really considered myself a feminist. However, as the mother of two young boys, I’ve made it my mission to instill in them an understanding about women—in particular, women are amazing, wonderful, strong, high-achieving providers and successful people who kick ass!
Most important, it’s essential for my boys to learn and understand that women are not here to do everything for the young and older men in their lives. In other words, I needed a campaign to drive my boys—and my husband—to recognize and participate in the work of the home.
Our six-year-old is quite industrious, imaginative, and chants constantly like a talking pull-string doll with three recorded scripts:
1) “Play with Me!” 2) “Read to Me!” 3) A manufactured, ear splitting hybrid of whining and screaming.
And more often than not, his string is pulled while I’m attempting to make a dent in a sink overflowing with dishes. (Did I mention that our dishwasher died a slow, horrible death?)
Our 10-year-old is a quiet, avid reader, who makes his presence known only by the dispersion of personal items on every single surface of our home—as though each chair, table, and countertop requires some clutter to keep it company.
My husband often retreats to the piano after dinner, leaving kitchen clean-up for later with a “Don’t worry about it, sweetie. I’ll do it.” Well, as we all know, bedtime comes soon after dinner, and with the best of intentions, my husband usually falls asleep while trying to get the kids to do the same. With him out of commission, I’m left to get both kids to bed with the aid of much reading, cuddling, and chatting. (While quite a chore, I must confess I love this time!)
One day my husband left early for work and I was 20 minutes behind schedule, frantically getting kids fed, lunches made, and herding them into the car... and that is when I lost it. I was so upset—mostly over their lack of awareness and cooperation—that I unleashed while driving them to school. (Pro Tip: Parental rants are most effective in the car, when parents are in control. Kids are strapped into their car seats and therefore captive listeners.)
Mid rant, I stopped abruptly and said, “That’s it. I quit! I’m done getting upset about getting you anywhere on time, because I’m done getting you ready and taking you to school!”
The kids were dumbfounded! One of the boys asked, “What do you mean, you quit?”
Arriving at work I typed up the following strike notice:
For the foreseeable future, that night would be my last time preparing dinner. My notice was dated to begin two days later. Instead of barking at my 10-year-old, “Don’t just sit there like the King of France. Set the table while you share your interesting story of how Ash evolved Deoxys into a fire creature,” I savored the dreamy thoughts of relinquishing all my responsibilities and watching my dependents and husband become my teammates and partner.
Here’s what we learned:
The best part of this “experiment” was that my kids kind of got it. They asked great questions, like, “Mom, who pays for these things? Do we have to pay you or does Dad?”
My husband took it in stride, taking on many of my duties, such as meal preparation, reading Harry Potter, and getting the kids to bed.
For me, I learned to really appreciate the partnership of my husband and my family. Though fun, the invoicing became quite a chore by the end. Had my collection department been more effective, I could be relaxing on a beach in Thailand right now.
And though I may not have collected financial rewards, I did accomplish a great deal by teaching my boys how to get up off their arses and show the women in their lives—primarily me—love, respect, and appreciation. Don’t we all deserve it?
Sarah Shaoul is a champion of small business, proprietress of Black Wagon, mother, wife, and bon vivant!