Domestic Labor Balance

By Tracee Sioux

We had a fabulous time over Memorial Day weekend when a very generous friend offered to let us stay at her bed and breakfast for three days. It was super-glorious. We were so grateful we couldn’t help inviting a few friends over to share it and made it a lovely party. It got me to thinking about who does the domestic or social labor, men or women?

When my extended family socializes or have parties it is literally exhausting hard labor for the women. My grandmother, aunts and mom will cook for days. They are the last to sit down and when the eating is over the women are the ones to clean up. As a child I just accepted this as a matter of course. The women did the work in the home.

As an adult, however, I am one of the women expected to work my butt off. As an adult I’ve come to realize how exhausting putting on Sunday dinner is. It’s a day of rest for the men, but a day of hard labor for the women. As a little girl everyone in our family had to clear their own plates from the table, except my father, he was treated as a pampered prince because he was the man and “brought home the money,” my mother would explain. Well, women are bringing home much of the money in today’s society, but we’re still doing more than our share of the domestic labor.

I don’t resent the work to create a hospitable party. I resent the men sitting there taking it for granted that it’s the woman’s job. I can’t change my extended family, but I’m straight up with my daughter that it’s the wrong attitude and it’s unfair.

When I throw a party or get ready for company my husband pitches in. He is expected to help me clean for company, prepare the food and to clean up after the party. Why shouldn’t he really?

I think we’re in a a girl revolution and we, their parents, are the transition generation. It’s not too easy to convince my 50-year-old uncle that it’s his job to clean up after dinner as much as it is mine. However, my daughter can see that I expect my husband to help in the same social situations. This way, by the time she’s grown up she’ll know that it’s within her rights to expect her husband to help with the domestic chores.

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