A highlight of last week for me was not only meeting in person, but hearing the incredible Samantha Ettus speak on a panel at the Mom 2.0 Summit. Samantha is known for being a media personality, author, Harvard Graduate, but her most shining quality is being a champion of women. By that I mean, Samantha advises and cheers on women to do something meaningful in their lives outside mommy-hood.
A working mom herself, Samantha accurately writes about the ups and sometimes the downs of doing both on her blog at Forbes. This is where I was first introduced to Samantha, and I looked forward to the day that I would meet the powerhouse. Samantha’s drive and love for what she does is contagious through her words, and in person, it is even more catchy.
While on the Mom 2.0 Hot Topics Panel, Samantha encouraged the group with words so simple yet paramount. Ettus instructed the group of working moms who struggle with balancing the gender roles at home, ‘To Expect. Not to Ask.’
With women accountable for 50% of the work force and 90% of the housework, why is it that we ASK our spouses for help? Shouldn’t the expectation just be there that they will help out? I found this particularly amusing after just speaking with my mom hours earlier who felt that is was spectacular that my darling husband, Henry, was doing so much with the kids and house while I was away. I know my mom did not mean to offend, but rather this mentality is a result of the generation gap.
Thanks to Kristin Howerton, who often explores these issues of inequality on Rage Against the Minivan, we discussed the notion of how our family of upbringing affects our attitudes on gender roles in the household. We all agreed that it is a large influence. Many of our moms were a part of the movement to do it ALL. They worked, cooked, did everything around the house, and rarely asked for help let alone EXPECT it!
Our generation is changing this, partly because women like Samantha who celebrate us.
In speaking one-on-one with Samantha, I told her that after supporting my husband for 10+ years in his career ambitions, I felt as though, I needed a bit of that kind of pride, too. Originally, I asked my husband to be supportive, and I do believe that I am transitioning to expecting it. It is liberating, freeing, and gratifying.
I do not want to disrespect my mom at all. I do agree that Henry was incredible while I was gone. What my mom does not know is that this was the first trip that I left without leaving notes, schedules, plans, or footnotes on the schedules. I just left with the expectation that Henry would refer to our shared family calendar for appointments, activities and packed lunches. I left meal planning, playdate arrangements, and scheduling of babysitters up to Henry.
Granted I heard they almost forgot the orthodontist and many of the meals were pizza or spaghetti, Henry did it all without me asking. Everyone was alive and well when I returned home including the 3 dogs, and without asking, Henry settled in for a LONG afternoon nap as soon as I was back in the fold. I am thrilled that he expected that I would let him rest after I expected him to hold down the fort while I was away.
Mutual Expectation is WAY better than asking. It leaves out the guilt and emotional component that comes with all of that.
What are your thoughts? Do you run your family similar to the way that you grew up? Or, do you push the envelope with trying to change gender roles?
Do you ask or expect?
photo credit: Forbes, Samantha Ettus, Personahood