The Double Standard - Happy International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. No better day to write about the double standard between men and women. Isn’t it funny that if a man were writing this it would be considered progressive and/or innovative, even respected? And I don’t doubt that coming from me, it will sound a little like bitching and complaining. That is one of the largest double standards there is, a man speaks up and it’s forthright and noble, a woman speaks up and all of a sudden she’s difficult and a bitch. I know you know what I’m talking about. I have a successful, female, entrepreneurial client; she’s got some wonderful, fact based research in her most recent blog post. It’s to her credit that I have really started paying attention to the above-mentioned double standard.

I used to think International Women’s day was almost sexist. I used to work in online gambling, a very heavily male dominated industry and they have a Women in Gaming Conference and Awards and I thought that was a bit sexist. I realize now I had those thoughts because by definition, I am a feminist. By definition a feminist is; advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. So damn straight, I am a feminist! I thought this Intl Women’s Day and those Gaming Events were totally diminishing because I view men and women as equals. I thought they were irrelevant because if they had one of those for men the world would be up in arms… I thought all of this until I began to educate myself on the issue. I thought this way before I knew how imbalanced the average boardroom is. I thought like this before I learned how much less women make than men in the same roles. I actually assumed things were relatively equal and thus we don't need days or events acknowledging our achievements or our generally awesome contributions to the workplace and family. I thought all of this before (wait for it, this is the big one) I became a mother, even more so now since I have a daughter of my own. So why is this day so important and why are the Women in Gaming Events so important? Because as it stands, right now WE ARE NOT EQUAL TO MEN and that is total effing BS.

Having had my own struggles with this is issue, even in my own moderately progressive household, I couldn’t not write about it for International Women’s Day. I think this day is needed and totally awesome because women have to work WAY harder than men to accomplish just about anything. Because the majority of us were brought up with some BS programming that women stay home with the kids and the man is the breadwinner (BTW, I totally acknowledge those Dads who haven’t bought in to this. Those are men who have the ego inside of them in check – bless you guys!!!!).

(And here is where I get really noble, vulnerable, respected and honest. Or to those living within the sexist system – bitchy…) I preface the following with that I have a very supportive Spouse. One who is willing to look at these sexist prejudices and acknowledge them when they might be present in our relationship. He definitely believes in equal rights for both sexes and has been able to see how his own childhood programming along with hockey culture (he played professionally for 14 years) has contributed toward his own sexist views at times and (to his credit) mostly unconsciously. Once he see’s these prejudices he is able to quickly acknowledge and move toward a feminist point of view, for that I am truly grateful! Let’s just say that having a daughter has also significantly helped him in this way. (And here it goes) I read an article once that started like this:

 Are you the default parent? If you have to think about it, you’re not. You’d know. Trust me. The default parent is the one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children. Spoiler alert: It’s typically the one with the uterus…

Currently I work 4 days/week and I am earning more than my husband (this has never before been the case, only in the last 6 months. And you know what? It feels great!) I do the majority of cleaning, I do about 90% of the cooking, I pack the school lunches, I do the majority of pick-up and drop-offs for our children, I take the kids to their activities (again about 90% of the time). And I do it all with pride and joy (about 90% of the time). It’s not that he can’t do more, I’m sure he would if I asked (maybe I need to ask?). It’s that I feel it’s my responsibility. I feel like if I want the kids to do stuff then I’m the one that has to do it with them. I guess writing this I am even more in touch with why this day is so important and honourable, because WOMEN HAVE TO DO MORE, women are expected to do more and until that is not the norm, that deserves an acknowledgement, that deserves a day (and a day at the spa)! Women also have to build boundaries, take more of a stand and make uncomfortable requests in order to cultivate the opportunities to harness our greatness and follow our dreams. And I am one of those women. You know what that makes me? A total badass! You know what that makes me? Strong as f#$&! You know why? Because I am a women, I am a mom and at the end of the day, I am the default parent. 

I Love My Kids...And...

I Love My Kids & They Drive Me Crazy

I grew up with a stay-at-home Mum. My husband grew up with a stay-at-home Mum. Bless them. Thus, I just imagined that I would, or rather I should also be a stay-at-home Mum. I did this for a little while, kind of. I sort of was at home and was sort of coaching on the side, from home. I was sort of present and I was sort of distant. I basically had one foot in and one foot out with everything I was doing (including my marriage and that’s a separate blog post). This was because I wasn’t honouring what was real for me inside. I am not fulfilled being a stay-at-home Mum – I’m just not and that’s okay. I have two children just 18 months apart. That means I learned I was pregnant with my second when my son was just 9 months old. I hadn’t even adjusted to becoming a Mum before another one was on the way. Please don’t misunderstand my struggle as a lack of love and gratitude for my children. As cliché as it is, I wouldn’t change anything about my life with them or the journey I’ve taken to get to where I am with them. It’s all been here for my growth and for that, I am truly grateful. I have a way of always seeing the silver lining, I’m grateful for that too. I’ve always been very independent. Since I was 14 I’ve had a job. Since very young, I’ve always been on a mission to live life to the fullest (sometimes to my detriment). Staying at home with young children (still) feels a little like a trap, like some esoteric ideal to keep me small. Trust me I’ve been round and round on the emotional roller coaster to figure this out: guilt, shame, frustration, anger, confusion, lying to myself – you name it, I likely experienced it. And I know I’m not alone.

So last month my daughter turned 3 and mustered up the courage, put the guilt aside and enrolled the kids in care 4 days/week. Things aren't perfect, I still loose my shit every so often, especially on Wednesday’s when I am home with them all day. Amongst the joy and wonder I experience through them I also experience extreme frustration and exhaustion with all of their needs. Laundry, ‘can I have a juice please’, ‘I want some more cereal’, ‘can I have some apple, no skin please’ (yes, my son is usually this polite, my daughter is still learning this valuable skill…sigh), ‘can I watch a cartoon?’, ‘BUT MUM-MUM’ and on and on. My Father often tells me, ‘you only get frustrated when they aren’t doing what YOU want them to.’ He’s right, 100%. I get frustrated when my daughter is screaming and I don’t want her too. I get frustrated when I am asked for a juice or water for the 30th time that day. I get frustrated when I want to sit down and enjoy a cuppa and a fight breaks out or someone throws their toy across the room. You know what else is frustrating? When people ask me ‘how old are your kids? and you say ‘3 & 4’ and their response is ‘oh that’s such a cute age.’ Really????? Do you remember, do you even know how much work it is? Yes, there’s a reason they are that cute at this age and like the pain of childbirth, I think people must forget how utterly draining it is when you have to do practically everything for them.

So what’s the point of this post (I’m actually asking myself)? Am I venting (well, clearly that’s part of it)? Will this actually help someone else reading this? My goal in writing this is to speak to other Mum’s and Dad’s that feel they aren’t living up to their full potential because honestly, right now someone else’s needs are greater than theirs and that’s okay. I want to encourage all of us to be aware of the choice we’re making. Keep taking a stand with power inside you that has access to having it all. We can. We can have it all. It starts first with believing we can. I know I’m on the right path. I know in the 4 days I get to work I am contributing deeply to humanity. I get to help people and thus I help myself. I know on the weekends and the Wednesday’s I’m home with the kids I am contributing to our bond and their lives long term. I know later in life I will not regret having stayed home on Wednesday’s. Next year my son will start kindergarten and that feels crazy! ‘The days are long yet the years go so fast’. So in the mean time, I grow in finding the resonant integration of building my career and being the best Mum I can be to two toddlers. This no small feat and thus the journey will continue.