I keep thinking about this thread on Chairman Mom about hiring a housecleaner that has gotten a surprising flood of answers. So many of us are struggling with whether or not to be apologetic about this.
And I get it. If Gawker was around they’d screenshot it and say we were all so privileged to be able to hire people to clean after us. We are, yes. Let’s all just acknowledge that. But I think we’ve also been conditioned to feel shame about it in the way working women feel shame about hiring a nanny: “Strangers raising your kids!”
Indeed, Gawker wrote a gendered and vicious story about me when I launched Pando calling me a “bad mom” because I’d rather “review apps” than spend time with my kids. That’s clearly not something they’d write about a male entrepreneur. But beyond the idea that I don’t deserve self-actualization once I have children, the article missed the point that I’m the breadwinner in my family and don’t have the luxury to stay home. As a single mom who works more than full-time, I need some help. I don’t have any childcare right now, but I can’t be my own full-time housewife, a full-time after-school and weekend mom, and do a job where I can afford to pay my mortgage in a city like San Francisco.
Privilege? Absolutely. But if you are going to work full-time and be an engaged parent, it may also be something you need to do to make it, not hugely unlike a work wardrobe for a certain job.
It may also be something you need if you are going to be married to someone who won’t do housework. Because it simply shouldn’t all fall on one person who happens to be a certain gender. I am struck by how rarely I hear men apologize for having a house cleaner, and how often I see women in our community having to “talk their partner” into getting a cleaner. (Or a night nurse when they have a baby. Never mind the dad doesn’t have the stress and societal expectations of nursing…)
Well, if you are sick of this too, good news! The New York Times showed that this bullsh*t isn’t changing with the next generation. Woke Millennial husbands are now okay with women “working outside the home.” (Again, just shocking to me we still even ask and research this question in the guise of we need men’s permission or approval somehow…)
Why do they like it? Because they get more money as a result! Buuuuuttttt, those same men don’t actually want to do more housework as a trade off for, yunno, that second paycheck coming into the house. It’s not that their wives have been given the freedom of self-actualization. It’s that they’ve been saddled with another responsibility: Bring in more money in addition to everything else you already do. Opposite-sex couples are no more likely than their parents to divide domestic work evenly.
(Again, I have absolutely zero judgement on women who chose to stay home. That’s also self-actualization. The point is being free to choose for yourself.)
There’s a degree of magical thinking here that’s sort of astounding. How exactly do they think the housework will get done? If this is the world high-achieving women are in, this guilt over paying for help has to go. (Or we can all just go live on Wonder Woman Island?)
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How to better advocate for yourself in medical situations?
- Does anyone else have a 2 year old with an overweight or obese BMI? Let’s chat…