Mommies Are For Working…and Loving (and Vacuuming)!

I had a hysterical working mom experience this week. Others might have found it horribly offensive, but I’m the type to crack up at even the slightly amusing and this went well beyond slightly…

The biggest little man in my life brought home some library books from school yesterday. He’s in kindergarten this year with weekly trips to the school library. Like we do every week, my two little men and I snuggled down to read these new, exciting stories at bedtime. The first was a bit ragged around the hardbound cover, but was titled, Mommies Are for Loving. I thought it sounded perfect at the end of a long day – I was thrilled with my son’s selection and good sense. Unfortunately, the perfect title was deceiving.

Apparently in addition to being around when you need them to ride the bus for the first time, Mommies are for shouting things like “WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER HEARS ABOUT THIS.” She does this yelling in heels and a dress complete with an apron if the illustrations are to be believed. On the next page, Mommies are again for loving, but this time while she wears a handkerchief on her hair to complement her apron and vacuum cleaner. I swear I’m not making this up – the vacuum cleaner appears in an honored role twice in a book with less than twenty pages.

I’m not totally opposed to my children being taught traditional gender roles if for no other reason than discussion and talking points, and Mom does wield the vacuum better than Dad around here, so no too much harm done…yet.

The next page about did me in. Apparently while Mommies are for loving and vacuuming, Daddies are for taking the kids on nature walks and answering all of the science questions in the given universe. They are also for “going to work, painting the house and taking out the trash.” While he does these things, he gets to wear cool hiking clothes and carry binoculars. He also gets a suit for work and a few cool tools in a tool belt. Dad also gets to say things in regular fonts like “You heard your mother” and “Later, I’m busy now” while Mom screams her head off about Dad’s forthcoming discipline.

At this point in the book reading, I was laughing hysterically. My kids thought that was pretty funny, even if they had no idea why.

I thought about having a heart-to-heart with my boys about true gender roles in a modern society and what they should expect from the genius-level wives that I hand-select for them someday, but I decided that actions speak louder than words. And my actions, along with my collection of power tools, my science and math teaching certifications, my two college degrees and my penchant for mutual discipline with Dad ought to be enough to cement what real Mommies are for – absolutely for loving and hugging and maybe yelling, but also for creating successful businesses, building closets, ripping out sinks, replacing toilets, planning science experiments and vacuuming only when the carpet is no longer visible through the dust.

I’m thinking of branching out from my traditional fields of freelance writing to write an updated version of the book – I think a 2010 version would be considerably improved over the 1962 version I have in front of me now. We all have to hang up the apron at some point and put down the hose extension of the vacuum cleaner. I’ll admit though that a comment about potentially discarding the book from the library collection will be sticky-noted on that book from this certified school librarian to the one at my son’s school. And I can’t wait to show this one to my mother – you know, the mom who was a working mother in her own right as an elementary librarian while raising three girls and never once vacuuming in a skirt and apron.

Now, enough with this computer and writing nonsense, I’m going to dust off those heels and practice using every extension on my own vacuum to try and reach a place of true self actualization.

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Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

10 thoughts on “Mommies Are For Working…and Loving (and Vacuuming)!”

  1. Too funny! I was four years old when this book was published. Although I came from “traditional” family with a working dad and at-home mom, I don’t recall ever experiencing what you described from this book. Not sure where those families lived but it wasn’t in our neighborhood. My mom wore pants, fixed things around the house and took care of discipline as needed.

    If anyone wants a copy of this book, however, a quick web search turned one up for only $10.50 with free shipping at AbeBooks.com. Amazon also has a couple for not much more than that. Otherwise you’re talking an investment of $45-$70.

    Definitely, Rebecca, do seriously consider writing an updated version. Thanks for the chuckle today – I needed it!

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  2. My mum was a stay at home mum and my dad worked too, though she also wore pants and spent a lot of time with our horses and other animals too. I hope to be close to the same but I don’t think a book like this would phase me too much. I don’t think everything in this day and age needs to be PCified. You’re right that your kids probably had no idea and they’ll pick up on how you and your partner actually treat each and help each other, not what one little childrens book says. Its’ nice to talk about something like this without the author going raving lunatic feminist on everyone!

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    • I totally agree – I’m actually a certified school librarian and reading teacher and I don’t shy away from anything that is age appropriate for children. This book will be great for discussing things someday with my kids. It just caught me by surprise that it was so outdated and still in circulation. I fondly remember helping my mother clean out her library collection in the 90’s. She was discarding books with titles like, “Someday We Will Go to the Moon.” There are books that are just itching for replacement – LOL

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  3. Like Crystal, my mother sure taught me differently. She said, “You are strong, smart, and capable of doing anything you want in life.” I tell my daughters the same thing. But it is crazy that some men still think women are only good for cooking, cleaning, and a quickie. Yes, write the update. Seriously.

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  4. Meanwhile, great reads like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, My Brother Sam is Dead, and Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret have been banned…

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    • The list of ‘banned’ books is very long indeed, and the most popular banned books are actually anatomy books. Things like “The Human Body” or “Changes in My Body” It’s nice to know we live in such an interesting society that can’t stand pictorial depictions of puberty and the like – usually cartoon-based at that.

      Most people who request a book being removed from the library shelf or classroom have not read the full book or looked at why it is being taught, unfortunately. Fortunately, most schools have a process that parents or community members have to take to get a book banned with some districts being more stubborn than others. I teach in a stubborn district thankfully and I get to teach books that have been banned from classrooms in states like North Carolina. *grins*

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  5. ROFL (and that floor hasn’t been vacuumed in um, I don’t know how long…) Too funny. And timely. And a little tragic. And then funny all over again. I especially like the part about Dad answering all the “science questions in the known universe.” Guffaw – that IS true in my house, as long as they don’t have to do with puberty or how to make a baby 😉 Keep wearing your tool belt, ignoring the dust and being absolutely genuine with your boys. They’ll figure it all out (and if they don’t, those hand-picked, genius-level wives will show ’em a thing or two).

    Seriously though, is it more fun to vacuum in heels? Otherwise, WHY???

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  6. LOL! Oh, boy, that book could use some updating for sure. Don’t they know that mommies do their vacuuming in yoga pants and Uggs now?

    I asked my 4yo son what Mommy & Daddy do all day. (I’m a SAHM & freelance writer.) He said “Daddy goes to work and you buy new stuff.” Like I’m jetting off to Rodeo Drive with my Visa platinum card instead going to Target on a diaper run!

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