In our modern day and age, it’s quite common to see women, especially mothers, working in time-consuming, high demand, stressful careers. Take me, for example. I am a teacher. This means I literally never stop working. I have my hours during the day when I am with students, and my hours at night when I grade and plan. I also have a family: a husband and two kids. My husband is also a teacher. We work in the same district. We literally have the same fucking job, and I am the one who is still doing everything at home.
This idea of the “superwoman” is a very antiquated and overused term. We commend and praise women who can “do it all.” They are told how wonderful they are, and how talented, and how people have no idea how they do it.
We are drowning. That’s what we’re doing. We are crying out for help, but the world is turning a blind eye while patting us on the back saying, “don’t forget to make dinner too!”
This never ending stream of work is exhausting. That combined with the idea that teachers are supposed to give give give until we collapse is utterly bonkers. I can’t tell you how many viral Tik Toks or memes I’ve seen lately showing a teacher standing on their head, juggling poisonous snakes while singing the ABCs. It’s ridiculous! We hold teachers to an unfair standard. And many of us teachers are also parents. I mean, being a teacher is already like being a parent to 100+ kids, but we’re trying to juggle the snakes and our own kids at home in a constant battle between “do I grade papers or read my child a story?”
Then add in the workload of teacher mothers, and we have a whole other monster to tackle. Women are still being held responsible for the vast majority of household duties, including the mental workload of remembering all of the dates, bills, maintenance and more. This means that when a teacher mom gets home, and she’s thinking about her lesson for tomorrow or the stack of assignments to go through, she is also remembering the kid’s laundry, dentist visit, what food needs to be restocked in the pantry, what is being prepared for dinner (and probably preparing it) and then trying to decide if she has time to shower before bed. Then heaven forbid she forgot it is trash day in the morning and she is running out in her jammies to chase down the garbage truck before it leaves her neighborhood.
And where is Dad? Sleeping. Or at my house, maybe grading.
See, in my two-teacher family, it has made me even more painfully aware of the inequities working women face in the home. Bless my husband’s heart, he is a product of a society that tells him laundry and dishes are women’s work, but he’s also an enlightened educator. We both had to study gender equity in our pedagogy courses, so he knows, in theory, that this behavior is wrong. But how, then, do we begin to change the generations-old attitude that it is women who are solely responsible for the domestic duties and mental load of family life? My husband and I literally have the same job and this is happening; he can’t use any excuse that his work in the day is more physically or mentally taxing. I’m also a compulsive workaholic and cannot stop working. I will work myself to the point of death. I should probably see someone about that, but my point remains the same.
Even in a home with two parents working the exact same job, the domestic load falls on the proverbial superwoman. This is a narrative I would like to see changed. To all you working moms out there, we see you and you are not alone. To all you teacher moms out there, working yourselves to death during this pandemic, creating your dog-and-pony-show virtual lessons to keep the kiddos engaged while also keeping house, we see you and you are not alone. To all you dads out there, I do not want to see you helping your wife or partner. I want to see you pulling your own weight in the house and caring for your family WITH your partner. It is absolutely your responsibility as much as theirs, and no excuse can cover that fact.