Saturday, September 08, 2007

They Still Don't Get It

They, men, still don't get it how easy it is for them to walk out the front door. I am speaking in general terms here, of course. I mean, they don't understand how loose their responsibilities hang on them.

S.O.v.1 started school this week. It's a big time for him... and for me. Probably more for me than him. It means one of my responsibilities hangs just a little farther from me and in good, capable hands for a time during the day. Most of those hands feminine.

As liberated as we are women still bear the brunt of the responsibility for all things house and children. If a man leaves a thing undone he knows with some unconscious certainty that it will get done, somehow, and by whom is not his place to wonder or know. At appropriate times they of course protest this fact and take reigns and Lord knows we appreciate it mightily, any sort of backup we can get.

But if you look around a school, and especially a parent meeting, what you largely see is women. This at least gives me some relief that I am not in the least liberated relationship - and I thought I was doing pretty good - in town. We are all smart and capable and worthy women, and what we are bound to is to take care of the babies no matter where else our strengths may lie.

I realized this week for the first time that women with children think not in terms of goals for the future reaching 1 year or 5 year milestones even. We look to when school starts, when our children's milestones of independence are met and so then we can loose the bonds just ever so slightly to say, take more time for ourselves, to reach our own goals. It is endemic. It's not just me. For that small comfort I am grateful.

Because when I think of my work life, my 'career', it is not in terms of what I might be able to accomplish but where my children are in their need for my care and attention. Men don't get this. Of course they don't live this so how could they know and if they cared to know they might feel badly, and then that does no one any good. Because of course we all know, whether we care to admit it or not, being a mother is a very particular bond and responsibility, one which being a father does not even come close to matching in its scope. Fathers are necessary but mothers are vital. Perhaps if men actually realized that - maybe if they all paid attention to who all the knumbnuts on TV say hi to when they get caught in the Jumbo Cam - there might actually be a Single Mother tax break, or a Mother Trying to Work But Her Child is Home Sick With Daddy Lunch Break, or a Sports Widow Vacation Allowance - really, that one is really necessary for a lot of women, thankfully not me.

The point is, as my mother reminds me often, the childen are attached to the mommy by a cord, an invisible cord that ties them to you until they no longer need you. A time which we all conversely dread and anticipate with relish. It is in a way a beautiful prison. Someone has done the walls up real nice and the guards are just lovely company, but you ain't getting out until it's time and there is no parole board. Fathers may be able to give us a break every once in a while but the babies will need their mommies until they don't, and that is just all there is to that. Might as well do good, honest time.


Anonymous said...

As a work-at-home dad of three, I should take umbrage at your remarks, but as an observer of all things human, I just can't. I've been at the school meetings and I've been one of the many missing, so I'm both sides of the coin (as I suspect we all are). I do think things are changing, though, so don't give up hope. We might not "get it," but more of us appreciate it, which is a start. It's not parole, maybe just an occasional furlough.

---An old acquaintance

Yella said...

Now is that really fair!? You can't say that you know me and then post as anonymous! Didn't they meet in Geneva after the war and come up with horrific punishment for that... 7 years in Internet gulag or something... I think I read something about that...

Now I will have to wrack my brain for who I know who has 3 children....

Anonymous said...

No wracking necessary; it's been nearly two decades, so it'd be virtually impossible to get. I apologize for the anonymous post. I happened upon your blog a few months ago when I was trying to avoid work, and I check in every now and then to see what's what and to get a different perspective on things. This time, happily mired as I am in my own delightful morass of kids, school, soccer, husbanddom, work, etc., I just felt I had to reply. I was going to throw in a hint, like "I don't want these kids hurt," but even that's probably too obscure (and still the only nice thing I've ever had to say about Bush pere or fils).

So I'm Rob (though I may have been Robert at the time) and you knew me long ago in Berkeley. Keep fighting the good fight.

demondoll said...

I want Sport Widow Allowance, but then I guess WGD is entitled to Production Vacation, too...?

Nah, I'm taking it anyway!