I try to watch the “c” word when describing women.
Not the real “c” word but the other one.
I try not to call other women crazy. Because I know why we’re crazy.
It’s because his is what society expects from women:
- A stellar career
- A stellar body
- A happy marriage
- A clean, stylish home
- Clothing that is age-appropriate, modern, and stylish; possibly tailored
- Good, coiffed hair
- Non-ugly face
- Attention to pubic / facial hair
- Not being “tired”
- Giving birth to babies of a certain weight and height (but not too many babies and not too few either)
- Keeping up relationships with family members and friends
- Raising respectful, well-behaved, well-fed children (but not too well-fed or too well-behaved; they’re kids after all)
- Almost everything having to do with their children’s schedules and education
- Shopping for and preparing three healthy meals (plus snacks) daily for everyone in the family
- Making sure laundry is clean and put away
- Making sure kids don’t walk around with snot on their faces
- Thank you notes
- Not killing anyone
Here is what society expects from men:
- To have a job
- Not killing anyone (unless they come onto their property without their consent. Then they can kill at their leisure.)
[Now, here is where my husband will read this and say this is very unfair and I will agree. As he does so much of the child rearing and cooking and helping around the house (and he doesn’t murder people). You would be hard-pressed to find a husband or father more devoted to family life than he. But! Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure the reason he is so devoted is because he does it to help me, not necessarily because he thinks of it as necessary. Because as we get our footing as parents of two children, it’s me ticking off the items off the to-do list. I’m the chef and he’s the sous-chef. I’m the one with the giant list; he’s the one with the not-so-big list.]
So, enough about me. Back to women being “crazy.”
We are crazy because we fucking try to do all of the things on this list, all the time, even though being able to do all of those things is not physically possible.
There is no way we can marry traditional expectations of women (everything having to do with domestic duties) and the modern expectations of women (everything to have to do with our careers, or lack thereof).
This is nothing new. I have no idea why I’m even writing this essay as, well, tell me something I don’t know, amiright?
I guess I was thinking about the “c” word recently because I can get really sad about my post-baby body.
Anyway, I was bummed and slightly crazy about it until I realized the reason for my post-baby body for looking the way it does is because I have housed two giant babies in my body. I can’t have one thing (a tight body) and the other (two, big healthy babies). I made a choice and because of that choice, there are consequences. (It’s a good time to say here that if we ever go for a third, I’m totally renting out a womb.)
I feel less crazy if I remember that the reason one thing is like the way it is, it’s because of the choice I made.
Here’s another metaphor for your reading pleasure: You can’t have a super clean kitchen if you actually use it. My husband and I choose to cook. We like to cook. We think it’s good and healthy for our kiddos if we make them food. But cooking leads to messes. So, whenever I get despondent because of pantry moths, or greasy cookware, or a sink full of dishes, I have to calm down and realize the reason my house isn’t in order is because I choose to actually live in it and do things in it. And because I have kids. And a job. And everything.
It’s not because I’m sleeping all day, doing heroin. If I were sleeping all day and doing heroin, then I could feel guilty about my kitchen / eye brows / house / career / body / hair / wardrobe / children / diets / laundry / face / thank you notes / murder.
It seems so simple but until I looked at it this way, I felt this crushing guilt that I couldn’t do everything on the “What Society Expects From Women” list perfectly.
The only way to get through life is to pick which thing, that day, that hour, that minute, that needs your attention just then.
Oh, and don’t call other women “crazy.”
Just realize they aren’t as good at picking and choosing off the checklist than others. That’s all.