Today I’m baking Christmas cookies to
share eat by myself while bae is on a work trip. It’s got me pondering the cognitive dissonance I have between my view of feminism/independence and my equal but more delicious desire to be a master of all things culinary.
I think my ahead-of-her-time mama embodies an excellent balance of both – but then again, she does it as a single woman/mother with no lazy husband eating her food night after night with one or both eyes never leaving the golf game on tv. My boyfriend isn’t like that, but there is a part of me that lives in terror of replicating some Mad Men-esque gender norm in our house, whether it’s tomorrow or ten years from now. There’s something icky to me about serving someone day after day after day, especially because of the sheer volume of work it actually takes to come up with ideas, shop for food, prepare it and have it ready and hot at a certain time. The six minutes it takes to eat doesn’t justify the means, ya know what I mean? Anyway, it can turn into one of those traditional and underappreciated tasks in some families and I need a LOT of praise and admiration for everything I do (#entitled).
Lately, I’ve noticed a meme appearing regularly on my social media that says something like, “Women today are expected to perform in their jobs like they don’t have kids, and look after their kids like they don’t have jobs.” By the number of reposts by moms, it’s clear that a lot of women agree with this statement. I think it’s more complicated.
My theory is that social pressure can only go so far. Social pressure is not following up with you to make sure you comply; so really, the only person holding you up to an unrealistic standard is you. Obviously, you need to do your job when you’re at work, but I think workplaces now expect you to continue to be a parent. I think as individuals we put an insane amount of pressure on ourselves to “have it all” by overachieving in our careers and personal lives. I’m totally guilty of this.
I want to BE a million things: an expert at my profession, a generous volunteer, a successful business-person, a published writer, rich, famous, beautiful, thin, young, a good partner, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law and pet owner. I want to maintain good friendships. And then on top of all of that, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to be a domestic goddess (does a more stupid expression even exist?) with mopped floors, polished furniture, a dust-free bathroom, fresh baking on the counter, dinner in the oven, the beds made, laundry washed, folded and put away. Is anyone asking me to do ANY of those things? Nope. Just this persistent little voice in my head causing me guilt and anxiety if I don’t.
So. Don’t look to me for a solution to this. I’m pretty sure the only answer is years of therapy, and don’t even get me started on adding “good therapy patient” to my repertoire. At least there are cookies to eat.