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.