Yesterday as the parents gathered on our local elementary school campus, moments after hugging our children goodbye, a man walked up to a group of women, most of whom were clad in business attire, and asked, without missing a beat:
"What our your plans for the day? Yoga? Brunch? Maybe a mani-pedi?"
I would like to say that he was joking. I would like to say that anyone in their right mind would be joking to say such blatantly sexist/out of touch/ignorant things, but alas, that was not the case.
The women, all friends, all very successful in their various fields of work including one Agency CEO, smiled and laughed in the way women typically smile and laugh when dudes say stupid shit COMPLETELY unaware that they are saying stupid shit. Which, I hate to say, is often. WAY TOO OFTEN. EMBARRASSINGLY IS-THIS-EVEN-FOR-REAL often.
There has always been an assumption in my community--which is, btw, as privileged as it is progressive -- that "when the kids go back to school" moms are FREE to throw parties, day drink and relish in their alone time, and while this might very well be the case for some, I do not know a single mom/woman for whom this is the case. So, I would like to talk for a minute about what we--men AND women--can do to put a stop to this antiquated logic. STOP THE MADNESS, GUYS! YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS! I KNOW YOU CAN!
And while my first instinct is to rage because, REALLY, DUDE!? YOU ARE ASKING THE CEO OF AN AGENCY WHETHER OR NOT SHE'S GOING TO GO GET HER NAILS DONE NOW THAT HER KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL BECAUSE YOU ASSUME THAT HER BUSINESS ATTIRE IS JUST... I DON'T KNOW... FOR DROP OFF-- I really want to get to the bottom of this issue and why it's A. so offensive and B. something I tend to laugh off instead of confront.
And while, I am one of those rare cases of work-from-home moms available for drop off and pick up (and taking days off to meet friends for lunch, which I will do on occasion) I resent those who assume that kids in school means ME TIME in a way that is very particular to me and other women being, well, women. Even Hal, who was with me at drop-off and heard the whole exchange go down, was like, "was that dude for real? He wasn't joking? He had to be joking."
"Nope. Welcome to motherhood, my darling. Welcome to MOM JEANS and MOM LIFE and MOMMY NEEDS A DRINK." Welcome to women making themselves useful over brunch and yoga. Welcome to a revolution that consists of gossip and mimosas.
NOT. PSYCHE. It's opposite day.
The thing is, it wasn't dude's fault; he didn't know any better. Google "back-to-school" and see what comes up -- memes of "moms" dancing and high fiving each other like OMG WE ARE SO FREE. Commercials depicting "moms" rolling their eyes while doing piles of laundry. Viral videos of "moms" partying at Target by choice. And while, again, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THIS, there is something VERY wrong with ASSUMING that a woman's life outside of her children is... Target and laundry and mani-pedis with the girls. Because for MOST WOMEN -- and I would venture to say MUCH MORE THAN MOST -- it isn't. In fact, most women I know are the primary breadwinners in their households and that is a FACT. Most women I know have to get up BEFORE school and BEFORE work and BEFORE their kids even wake up in order to squeeze in some yoga... Metaphorically speaking, most moms I know have to walk ten miles in the snow to get to work every. goddamn. day. Add 100 miles to that trek for all the single moms I know.
Yesterday I read a really incredible piece written by Kristi Coulter that has zero to do with back-to-school but also everything to do with this post and the way *some* men (and some women) condescend upon other women... assuming we/moms/women must DEAL with the monotony of life by escaping -- getting fucked up -- "mollifiying" the feelings we are COMPLETELY justified in feeling. Yes, the essay at its core is about alcohol and our dependence on its numbing powers, but more than that, it's about alcohol as a punchline--as this is what we do as women, as moms, in order to accept our lives. We drink.
We drop the kids off at school and meet the girls for mimosas in order to exhale. We get fucked up so that we can deal by not dealing.
All of this to say, whether you're a woman OR a man, please think twice before ASSUMING that WE, the mothers HAVE OUR LIVES "OF LEISURE" back the moment our kids go back to school. Instead, assume that we, like our male comrades, can be both parent and professional. It's insane that I feel the need to write those words, but there you go... Also, this post? This rant? I was paid to write it. This is my job. One of them, anyway. I write things and get paid for it. And THIS is what I'm doing when the kids are at school. I am in my office working. Not getting mani pedis. Not watching Days. WORKING, which is, by the way a thing that women -- yes, even mothers -- do.
And, yes, I'm a little bit angry. And it's okay to feel that way. I don't need a "drink" to mellow me out. I need a change in the script -- and the story--and the perceived assumption that as a woman, the moment I drop my kids off at school, my job for the day is done, when, in fact, it's just getting started.