Crap, I’m a sexist.

Earlier this week my friend Anne wrote a thought provoking post about women in the workplace.  You should go read it, really.  

We were texting about it as I folded laundry and my thoughts turned away from women in the workplace and onto my own life as a working woman.  True, I’m not in the workplace at the moment, but I AM working nonetheless.

I get up before most every morning with my early risers and start changing diapers, reading books and refereeing toy disputes.  I prepare three meals a day unless we’re reheating leftovers, and cycling laundry.  I am diligent about using my creativity to create a personal and comfortable ambiance in our home.  In between all of this I work on my writing career as well.    (This isn’t a post about about why women should be “at home” with the kids, it just happens to coincide with my current employment status)

I’m a mother, A chef, A Decorator, A writer, An engineer of blocks, A seamstress, A housecleaner, A book reviewer, A lover AND a fighter

See?  I’m working.  I don’t think many people dispute this, in fact I think a lot of people respect the life I lead and the way I balance my time.  

crap I'm a sexist Yet, there is one person who doesn’t respect me at all.  In fact the language they use is sexist, disrespectful and it degrades me to my very core.

This person is Me….  Crap I’m a sexist.

This is most prevalent in my language and thought life.  Allow me to illustrate:

Let’s say Kel offers to take the kids to the park so I can get some writing done.  I will always inevitably respond with: “Thanks, I’m sorry, Thank you, I really appreciate it.”

Or lets say the kids get into something while Kel and I are both home.  I will say something to the effect of: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know they were doing that.  I’m really sorry.”

“I’m sorry dinner only has one side instead of two.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t gotten around to cleaning the shower yet.”

“Sorry you have to get your socks of the laundry basket instead of the drawer.”

Holy Crap, I’m a sexist.  Outside I portray equality, share-care and few gender stereotypes.  Yet my mindset is stuck on June Cleaver when it comes to personal expectations.

Now, am I at home more than Kel is?  Yes I am.
Am I the primary homemaker?  For now, yes.  But he does the cooking and is always game to dispatch a basket of laundry.

BUT in my head I am responsible for all the chores, all the food and all the childcare. If Kel takes on some of this, I apologize for not being superwoman enough to manage it all without assistance.  Should I thank him?  Sure, I don’t see a problem with that, a grateful heart never hurt anyone.

Yet the incessant apologies need to stop and to do this I have some serious interior work to do.  I’m sick of apologizing for having skill sets outside of homemaking.

As a woman it drives me nuts when people tell me that their husbands are babysitting their own children or when people marvel at Kel taking our kids on an outing without me.  Fathers oughta father their kids on a regular basis, not for special occasions or to excessive praise.

Yet in spite of these beliefs I both thank and apologize to my own husband for the very act of caring for our own kids or folding his own socks.

We live like equals, yet inside I feel wracked with guilt anytime Kel does a traditionally female task.

I’m sick of listening to myself talk when we’re at home together, I’m all apologies and quite frankly I don’t respect myself or my own time very much.

I don’t know what sort of therapy to seek out for this, but I do know that I’m tired of apologizing for myself and for the work of my hands or the lack thereof.

  • Jamie Kocur

    Glad I’m not alone. My husband and I both work, but I work less hours than he does, so I take on most of the housework. And feel utter and complete guilt when I don’t get it all done. He gladly does laundry or cooks dinner, but I often feel like a bad wife when he has to.

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m working on no more guilt myself.

    • Leanne Penny

      I’m so glad to validate each other’s feelings on this issue. Guilt is such a soul sucker and I feel like this language speaks to a much bigger issue.

  • Mark Allman

    All great points Leanne. Thank yes! Apologize No!

    “Fathers oughta father their kids on a regular basis, not for special occasions or to excessive praise.” Well said and we do not need excessive praise for doing the things we ought to.

  • Lisa

    i totally understand this. I’m a feminist and such but I still feel I need to do all the cooking, cleaning, etc… I think for me being a stay at home wife I take it all as my job and feel like I’m failing at my job if I need help. I also love all things retro and feel like I should be able to be Donna Reed. :)

    • leannepenny

      Yes, but I’m pretty sure they drank and were on valium, sans that I think it’s pretty rough to accomplish that level of domesticity and still retain sanity.

      But vintage aprons are cool. Nothing sexist there, that’s just good math laundry-wise.

  • Anne Bogel

    I’ve been working on my own self talk so much the past couple of years, because I finally realized (okay, someone else pointed out to me) that I’m SO much harder on myself than I ever would be on a friend.

    I get this, and you’re not the only one! We can strive to do better, together. :)

    • leannepenny

      Absolutely, your text therapy is changing my life. And I’m pretty sure it’s both mutual and unintentional. #score.

  • Andrew Gilmore

    I don’t think it’s just a gender thing either. I too feel guilty asking for writing time, especially because I know that my wife and kids need time with me. Keep up the good work Leanne.

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  • AlissaBC

    Wow. Eye opening for me right now. Thank you!

  • Angela White

    Oh Leanne. Your words hit so close to home right now. Wes and I have usually both worked outside the home and he has always been better at keeping up a home than me. Now I am on extended maternity leave, home with my 4 year old daughter and 8 wk old daughter and while Wes does not expect me to hold it all up perfectly, I expext me to. And constantly compare myself to how he would do it (better and more efficiently of course). And then I assume he is judging me or not happy with me. This puts me in a very negative head space. Boy do I feel you. I also wish I knew how to stop. Thanks for sharing.