By: Maddy Forbess
Thank you so much for waking me up every morning before school and packing my lunch even though you have to finish preparing your talk and clean the kitchen all before 8:00am. Thank you for picking me up from school to go the doctor’s in the middle of your work-day. Thank you for making my favorite dinners, and thank you for helping to load the dishwasher afterwards. I have so many other things to thank you for, but they would not all fit on this page. I think I speak for everyone when I say that you do so much for us. Whether it is helping to make Halloween costumes or bringing snacks to our sports games, you are always there. It is the extra “second shift” you work after you come home from your paid job that we take for granted, and for that I am sorry.
I promise to pay more attention to all that you do, especially the household duties that still seem to fall under your domain. In an age when women are increasingly active in the workforce, it is not fair that women, wives, and mothers still do the majority of domestic labor. Studies have shown that women have broken into the public sphere yet they continue to hold the same about of private sphere responsibilities. As a result, working mothers experience the extra load of cooking dinner, cleaning the dishes, and, in many cases, providing child care in addition to their professional occupation. For balancing all that you do with an air of grace and humility, you deserve much more than a simple thank you. Not only do you deserve credit for the “second shift” you work, but you deserve help—help that your capable, loving husband and children can provide.
You take the dogs for walks, arrange for our appointments, and somehow have time to dictate all of your office notes, too. Even if you are traveling to a conference for the weekend, you make sure to leave an extensive to-do list so that everyone can somehow manage in your absence. I am in awe of all that you are capable of, and I resolve to tell you more often how much I admire you. Your “second” household shift seems much more outdated than the progressive dual-earning model your and Dad’s marriage ascribes to, but it is a testament to how much you do to make our family run smoothly. That is not to say you should have to do all of these domestic duties. Our society’s sexual scripts must continue evolving before we rid ourselves of the historical sexual division of labor. Until then, gendered roles in household labor will still linger despite the liberal family structures with which many families in the United States identify. But we do not have to wait around for some external stimulus to bring about this change. It is each of our responsibilities to contribute more. We can help in a myriad of ways. By simply taking the trash out in the morning before school or making a dinner schedule for the week, we can more equally divide household tasks. I know it seems we are all increasingly busy in today’s market-driven society, but we must not lose perspective. Yes, school is time-consuming and it is difficult to make time for seemingly mundane chores, but my point holds. Household labor should not fall upon one person’s shoulders, regardless of how incredibly strong a mother she is.
An aspiring woman in leadership