Why are we doing all the work?By Sarah Kehrberg
There she had to do hard work from morning till night, get up before daybreak, carry water, light fires, cook and wash. — Cinderella, The Brothers Grimm
Although there are studies that “prove” it, parents already know we do too much for our children. We do their homework, pack their lunch, oversee their future college resumes.
Selfishly, what concerns me most is the housework.
Tonight, after getting the baby to sleep, I was welcomed back into the kitchen by a counter full of supper dishes. My daughters were in the living room watching Mary Poppins.
I looked at those dirty, mocking dishes and at the same time heard “chim chim cher-ee” from the next room. I became angry in the I’m-going-to-throw-the-toaster-oven-across-the-room way.
Why were two able-bodied kids lounging while their mother faced the dishes alone? More to the point, why had I given them permission to do so?
I didn’t handle the situation well. I stormed in, shut down the movie and ordered my bewildered 8- and 6-year-olds into the kitchen. The dishes got done, but no one had fun.
This seems to be a pattern: catering to my children and then erupting in fatigued anger.
Maybe we don’t expect our kids to learn the art of housekeeping because we ourselves have abandoned it. A culture of Stouffer’s lasagna doesn’t make for inspired young chefs.
Or, perhaps unconsciously, we shield our daughters from housework because we consider it demeaning. Girls pushing vacuum cleaners is so 1950s. Our daughters have more important things to do.
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