The Holidays are quickly approaching us. I have done zero shopping and have begun stressing about choosing the right gifts at the very last minute for my friends and family. Even though I have been out of work the majority of the past 6 weeks, it doesn’t seem that “skipping” the gift-giving part of Christmas is an option, even though people know I just had a baby 6 weeks ago. IF YOU LOVE PEOPLE, YOU MUST BUY THEM THINGS!!! LOTS OF THINGS!!! Despite my husband and I doing secret Santa with our families, there is still an unspoken pressure to buy for all of my parents, my grandmother, all of the kids (and spoiled teenagers) in my family. If I don’t buy gifts for all of these people, I am afraid I will be seen as selfish or cheap. And notice I say I, because I automatically assume the role of choosing and purchasing the gifts that come from both me and my husband.
Having a baby has already lead my husband and I to adhere to more of the typical gender norms, which is hard enough as it is for me. I HATE CLEANING! I don’t mind cooking but something really grinds my gears about me having dinner ready for when my husband comes home from work (I usually don’t). I see a woman from the 50’s in an apron with a baby on her hips asking her husband if he needs anything and waiting on him hand and foot. By no means does my husband expect this from me, but for some reason I feel like I am being taken advantage of (by society???) when I do certain tasks around the house.
Do I want to take the trash out? Not really. Do I know how to fix something on my car (or anything for that matter?) Definitely not. I was never taught the more “masculine” tasks growing up. My complex probably stems from childhood. Being the only girl out of 4 children, very early on I strove for perfectionism and achievement. My brothers knew this about me and used this against me for chores. I clearly remember having to vacuum instead of my brothers because I did a, “better job” than they did. I remember how angry I felt then, knowing they were tricking my mom into making me do their chores because I would usually try hard at whatever I did.
Fast forward to adulthood. You know what vision I have of the holidays? My grandmother cooking in the kitchen while the women help her. After dinner the women (usually me and my grandmother) automatically start to clear plates and clean up while the men sit around, usually watching sports and drinking beers. Never do they offer to help. One Thanksgiving I actually boycotted cleaning and told the men it was their turn to help. It worked, but for only one time. For me, they would rather soak up their male privilege and be lazy while the women suffer. My younger brother will actually make jokes about my role as a woman being in the kitchen.
And can we talk about Christmas cards? Now that I have a little one, once again the pressure is felt to show off our new bundle of joy.
I seriously wonder, has a man EVER organized the pictures, labeled, and sent out Christmas cards? Why is this task left up to me, and most women I presume. Luckily, for most things I talk to my husband and let him know exactly when I feel this way and things he can do to help. I don’t do these tasks and pretend like I love to do them to please my man. He’s the first person that knows homie don’t play that game. More women should speak out and refuse to do things just because it has traditionally been done by women. Do things together! Ask for help, and accept things even if it’s not done exactly the way you like them to be. And if someone asks you why the presents aren’t wrapped on Christmas morning, just explain that Santa went on strike.