I had so many responses and conversations from my intro and this thread about my home improvement plan! A lot of you are so far ahead of me on this journey and I’m in awe. And others are not quite ready to take the plunge.
The conversations have made me think a little more about why this is so empowering and why I’m so excited for this challenge. It occurred to me that it may be one of the last of the traditional gender dynamics that I haven’t bucked. I’ve been the dominant bread winner. I’ve battled the 98% odds against me to raise venture capital as a female CEO several times over. I’ve been the one who has the final say on things in the home. I’ve “worn the pants” in various relationships.
But I am absolutely intimidated of doing—or even trying to do—anything “handy.” In that sense, this feels like more than me pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It feels like an important thing to confront. Is my feeling that I can’t do this stuff because doing projects around the house just isn’t my thing (I have lousy attention to detail for instance…) or is it because I’ve swallowed traditional gender norms?
I had thought about these home improvement projects as a way to distract myself from the time I don’t have my kids, to take control of my situation, to make my home nicer without spending a lot of money, to feel a tangible sense of accomplishment having done something with my own two hands…what I didn’t think of was the message it would send to my kids about a woman wielding a hammer.
I am so proud of how many gender un-norms I’ve modeled for them. I love over-hearing how my kids talk about me to their friends. Eli not only repeatedly tells people that I run a company, he has a little mouse stuffy who he’s made into my mouse alter ego. She runs a company called “Chairman Mouse” and I learned last night that she has written a new book on the power of mouse motherhood called A Mommy Mouse Is Not a Louse. She’s been promoting it in the house for the last day, and doing signings. (Evie requested it on Audible.) This morning she helped me lift something onto a high shelf and chanted, “MOMS CAN DO ANYTHING!”
Meantime, Evie will tell people how strong I am because I work out everyday. She walks around the house lifting weights to become stronger herself.
As I set out on my first project this week, I was dizzy thinking about the pride they’d see in me retiling the kitchen floor. I can’t wait to overhear, “Oh, yeah, my mom made that herself. She’s really great at building stuff…”
I am absolutely fine getting outsized credit for things that are incredibly easy like laying down carpet tiles. Wouldn’t it be cool if it built confidence for me to take on something that’s actually a challenge? Because really this is just about confidence and learning and not being afraid to try and ask for help, right?
Consider a recent report by the World Economic Forum on gender parity. The depressing headline is that it won’t be achieved for nearly 100 years at the current rate. But the interesting thing is that when it comes to education and health and survival, the gap is almost closed at more than 96% parity. Where things fall short is political empowerment at 24.7% and economic empowerment where parity regressed last year to 57.8%. (h/t: The Broadsheet)
Globally women are as strong, healthy, and well-educated as men. Are they holding themselves back? Get out of here with that “lean in” nonsense! But these are oppressive systems keeping this disparity out of reach in our lifetimes, and they won’t overthrow themselves. Overthrowing the patriarchy—and modeling that for our kids—is a courageous and revolutionary act that is played out in seemingly small daily actions that change and challenge preconceived notions.
I’ll keep everyone posted on my progress on this thread! Meantime, keep the suggestions and tips coming! And if anyone knows great landscapers or gardeners, it seems that’s the biggest thing everyone struggles with and defaults to hiring an expert to help them with. (Me included!)
(Also…how are Lily and I the only two who have New Years resolutions???)
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How hard do you push your kids academically?
- Is it crazy to consider a dog as a solution for neurodivergent child who won’t sleep alone?