“When I grow up the Daddy is going to do the dishes. I’m not going to do anything but sit on the couch,” my nearly five-year-old sometimes feisty daughter yelled in the middle of our regularly scheduled morning battle over getting dressed. Usually, I’m pretty good at handling her temper and deflecting her outbursts, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I felt defensive and genuinely insulted. What the #&%* do you mean by that young lady? Is that what you see me as? Some servant that just does the dishes and cleans-up after people? How dare you? Okay… I didn’t actually say that out loud, but I am human and just because your child is only 4 ½ doesn’t mean that she can’t push your buttons.
Maybe I should have ignored it, but I needed to know where I failed. Household chores are not just the Mommy’s domain in our family. The Daddy vacuums, takes out the trash, DOES THE DISHES, is constantly putting toys away in the playroom, shares in the laundry, takes care of all the outside work, and is a master at the grill. In fact, his closet is more organized than mine most of the time. So, where did she get this idea? Did I raise her to think that a woman’s job is only about cleaning and raising babies? In my desire to be home with her, did I inadvertently give her the wrong message about the role of a woman? Doesn’t she understand that even though doing dishes sucks, everyone has to do them – not just Mommies.
Yes, my days are unglamorous at times, but I like to think that I am demonstrating what it means to be a strong, independent, free-thinking woman, regardless if I am tending to a fussy infant, putting a bandage on a boo-boo, or singing the ABC song for the gazillionth time. I run a successful business and I get to raise babies and teach young children, which is a passion and love of mine. Isn’t this what we should all strive for in our lives? And if I didn’t have my business, wouldn’t raising my own children be enough of an accomplishment?
On President’s Day, I told her that although there has never been a woman president, there will be one soon (with hope). I explained that she can be the president if she wants one day. I told her that she can do anything when she grows up as long as she works hard. But, maybe I should have said, it doesn’t matter what you “do” as long as you are happy and doing what you love. Maybe I should have said that what you choose to “do” doesn’t define you as a person.
After I collected my thoughts and took a breath (or 10), I had to ask what she meant. It was killing me to think that I had ruined her thinking on the role of a woman in today’s society. She simply shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I just want to wear my pink dress.”
Note to Self: Get a grip, remember she is four, and forget about those damn dishes in the sink… for now.