Ask Grainne | How Did I Turn into a 1950’s Housewife?
Need parenting advice that doesn’t read like you joined a new age cult? Ask Grainne for the unvarnished truth about modern Irish parenting.
How did I turn into a 1950’s housewife and is it reversible?
When I met and married my partner we were both modern people. I was convinced, after a steady diet of reading glossy magazines that I could have it all. Career, marriage, and kids. My husband seemed like an evolved human being who repeated endlessly before we started trying (for a baby) that we would share everything. We would be partners in this grand adventure. We would not be our parents or our friends who had screaming demon kids. I imagined that it would look a lot like those generic baby catalogues and feature a nanny. Cut to one kid later. I love our child but, my Career has now stalled after maternity leave (my colleagues poached all my main clients as soon as my pregnant self left the building) so I am really struggling at work. My husband has turned into my Dad i.e. content to leave all aspects of childcare and housework in my hands (‘you just do it so much better and faster than me’).
I am tired, irritable and while I love our little one with all my heart I know I am no longer the ‘best version of myself’. Instead, I seem to have turned into some 1950’s housewife who just constantly washes, cooks, works, childminds and then falls into bed exhausted.
How do other women cope with this? (Who can we sue?) New Mum of one Galway.
Dear New Mum,
How do I break this to you… Welcome to the biggest lie women have been told for a generation. The idea “You can have it all” was sold as a huge step forward in equality. However, in reality, it just means women working twice as hard.
Becoming a parent as a man makes you a more desirable employee. You are more likely to stay with the company once you have offspring. You are seen as dependable, responsible, capable. On the other hand, as a woman, employers think you are no longer committed. You won’t have as much time to dedicate to the job. You will be distracted. There will be missed days when your child is sick.
There is only one thing you can do, train your partner in now! If you let this go on any longer you are heading into a life of misery. But before you start feeling too sorry for yourself, I should point out – poor women always worked, this is not new to them. They have always had to work twice as hard.
Most lads were brought up in a household where their mother did almost everything. They have never experienced what sharing of household tasks is. They seem to think that women just wake up one morning and ‘naturally know’ how to be a mother/house slave and get some perverse pleasure from it all. A form self- flagellation.
So, the training, there are lots of ways you can approach this but I find the quickest is to stop doing all the *shit! Wash the baby once a week (more than enough). Feed it. Make sure you have a few clean baby grows, but other than that do nothing.
Continue for two/three weeks and then invite his mother over for dinner on a Saturday night. Tell him about this on Friday evening as you tuck into your ready meal. Then sit back and watch the transformation. He will be scrubbing out the bath by the time the Late Late show starts.
Saturday morning, tell him you have to work to try and win back your stolen clients and head out the door. Waltz back in 30 minutes before the mother in law is due to arrive and head straight for the shower. For added impact ask what’s for dinner as you walk up the stairs. This may seem harsh, cruel even. But let’s face it, it is nowhere near as shocking as walking out of a maternity hospital with a baby under your arm. That discovery that you are no longer an individual but a shadow puppet of your former self.
*housework and non-essential baby care.
My kids won’t let me shut the bathroom door. Ever.
Any moment I duck into the loo and close the door results in a tantrum from my three-year-old. If I attempt to run to the bathroom when he naps it is even worse.
How do other parents cope with this? When does it end? Seriously I just want to pee in peace.
Yours, Kildare Mum.
Dear Kildare Mum,
I’m only going to say this once. YOU ARE BIGGER THAN THEM. Shut the fucking door!
Grainne. Proudly known as a bitch by her nearest and dearest. Is surprisingly still married to the father of her three, only slightly dysfunctional children. Has opinions about everything.
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