My daughter’s former kindergarten teacher posted a meme created by Jayne Havens that reads, “FYI Dads, your children will not be bringing home handmade Mother’s Day gifts from school. You have 15 days.” Haha. Funny right?
Sure, on the surface this is a lighthearted joke about the inability of men to be thoughtful, forward-thinking humans showing evidence of emotional intelligence. Stereotypes are so funny! Except they’re not when it means a large portion of the population (women) bear the brunt of the joke.
I know, I know: not all men. Yet the meme was shared over 10K times from a small Facebook page called TeacherGoals and continues to pop up in my newsfeed because my teacher and heterosexual mom friends are also sharing it. I don’t see the humor in the need for women to side-step their way into feeling appreciated, nor do I get the joke that it’s somehow up to teachers to cover dads’ asses. This is a sad reminder of how little men do for their wives and how much they depend on women without being held to higher standards.
And yes, for the sake of this article, I will be addressing the heterosexual, heteronormative examples of relationships and families. I know queer people can be lazy and thoughtless too, but this meme was not directed at the queer folks, so I will place blame on the straight men.
If it does not apply to you, fantastic! If you are a man who can take a look at your own shortcomings and strengths and work to improve yourself and those around you, then high five! It takes a lot of insight to drop your ego and check your insecurities. It’s hard to find a man willing to admit they, or the men around them, need to step up and do better. If I found you, know that I expect you to keep up the good work while also working to drag the rest of your cisgender males with you.
However, most of our society is populated by baby-men with egos too fragile to accept blame or the answer “no.” Sadly that means most of society is also partnered with these men, and either make excuses for them or somehow convince themselves that with enough work, they can train their boyfriends and husbands to be better men.
I have seen too many women stuck in this cycle. It’s sad and maddening, and the pandemic has shown just us—again—how much women are expected to do without pay and complaint. Women are the backbone of a patriarchal society because they have been forced and expected to make men look good and pick up their slack in the name of taking care of the family and children.
Especially in the middle of a worldwide crisis, women provide more of the unpaid physical and emotional labor than men. Moms are cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, nurturing, working, and often babysitting the needs and emotions of the dads in the house who hide away in their room all day and declare their jobs more important and essential than their wives’ jobs. Also, 70% of the education jobs are occupied by women. Teachers are heroes now more than ever. They are adapting their teaching styles, and pivoting each week to figure out what works for the students they teach while also maintaining their own homes. Yet some teachers are offering to drop off DIY Mother’s Day kits for kids to do at home.
No. You are doing enough, teachers. You should not have to carry the weight of wondering if Mom will be remembered on Mother’s Day. You should not have to come up with a project because Dad can’t get his shit together.
Moms shouldn’t have to carry this weight either. The last thing a woman, mother, or teacher wants or needs to do is beg a man to remember them or their student’s mother. Yet the majority of the comments under Haven’s meme are women tagging their male partners. Remember to remember me sweetie! It’s gross and sad, boys. And it’s another example of the emotional labor constantly being done by women and mothers.
The rest of the comments are of men complaining that women will now understand how neglected they feel because school is usually out by the time Father’s Day rolls around. Okay, Chad. Your request for a blowjob can’t be made into a coupon by your 3rd grader anyway. Shut the fuck up and help out once in a while and maybe your wife would feel appreciated and willing to be vulnerable and intimate with you.
Back to the pandemic-approved homemade Mother’s Day gifts. This is sweet and thoughtful, but doing another craft with their kids is the last thing a mother wants to do for Mother’s Day. And please don’t tell me this is supposed to be a fun activity for dad to with the kids. He won’t even get the email to know a kit is available or pick up said kit if Mom forwards the email to him. Why is it that a parent’s work is often a woman’s work?
I am part of a few online groups with really amazing dads. I see the work they are doing on themselves and the involvement they are taking in raising their kids. Even they don’t think they should be praised for this. A parent’s work load should not be determined based on gender. Yet, here we are.
The annual value of unpaid work performed by women 15 years old and up is $11 trillion dollars a year. Women make the world go round. Now show some gratitude and remember your baby mama on Mother’s Day. Thank a teacher while you’re at it because they are keeping this ship afloat too. A mother’s work is no joke.
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