Recently I’ve been noticing that whenever my mom asks me to do things for her – like wash the dishes, go out to get some groceries, or even the tiniest favour like get her a glass of water – she always makes it a point to say ‘thank you’ to me.
It baffles me when I compare this to all the times has she has picked up after me when I was young, or the thousands of meals she has cooked for me since I was born. Or even now as an adult, how she goes ahead and cleans my room while I’m at work, or organises my closet when I’m away travelling. She has done, and still continues to do, SO much for me that I will never be able to say thank you enough.
The thing is, mothers (and women in general), are often expected to take on the responsibility of the household chores. This is especially true if they are not working outside the home, though let’s be honest – we could easily argue that most working mothers do more chores than anyone else in the household.
Women’s love for their family often encourages them to take on these roles willingly. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a constant expectation for them to do so. Like how my mom would often feel guilty when I would come home from a long day at work and STILL have to wash the dishes she left for me (because she’s too tired from doing everything else). For her, the logic would be that she is a housewife and I am working, which means she should take care of all the housework so that I can relax when I’m home. But then I wonder.. when does she get to relax? When does she get to ‘clock out’?
It’s ridiculous once you think about it… Imagine a woman working tirelessly in the kitchen cooking food for the family and cleaning the house, while her teenage son plays video games all weekend. How is this fair?
We always talk about the issue of unequal division of household labour from the perspective of a relationship or marriage – how the woman always does more than the man in the house. But since many of us live with our parents well into our teens and adulthood, let’s also start the conversation of how we treat our stay-at-home mothers.
Growing up with a stay-at-home mom who was too nice to let us do much housework, it made us have the mentality that OUR work (whether it’s studying for school or a job) is more important than HER work (household management). Although this distinction wasn’t vocalised or made obvious, we all knew it was there, and we all accepted it without questioning it.
Through this we were being taught that if we are doing something like studying hard, the rest of the world must make it easier for us to do so. This stopped us from learning skills of time management and it gave us an unrealistic expectation of what life is actually going to be like once we grow up and move out of our parents’ home.
It has been a humbling experience to remind myself that I’m not doing anyone a favour by going to school or going to work. For instance, now that I live with my husband and we are both working, there is no magical person there to take care of the household chores. We have to divide it amongst ourselves and get it done, no matter how exhausted we are.
Everyone living in the house should have a set of responsibilities as they become old enough to perform them. We can only improve the lives of our stay-at-home mothers by contributing fairly to the household chores of the home that we live in. Working or studying does not give you a free pass from your responsibilities in the home.
Let’s appreciate our mothers for all they do for us and the endless comfort they try to bring to our lives, but also point out that we CAN and SHOULD work towards bringing ease into their lives too. It’s the least we can do.