Last night in the debates Mr. Romney tried to articulate his experience of helping women. The internet is now ripe with women in binder jokes. It was cringeworthy at best, but there was a moment when I wanted to pat his shoulder and say, “Hey, I hear you.” He was talking about hiring women and giving his lady employees a flexible schedule to take care of their families.
Yes, in some ways this is an entirely antiquated notion and something so minor that it’s laughable when compared with the all-out assault on women in recent years. But it’s something that, I think, could use a bit of a closer look.
Women do cook more than men do. Study after study shows that women who work still do more housework than their husbands. A flexible schedule for people in general not just moms or dads is necessary and one that we won’t see in our lifetimes, I’m afraid.
Yesterday I worked outside of my home and when my workday was over, I rushed home so that I could run before making dinner. Now that the days are gray and getting short, I need to make daily exercise a priority or else my brains turn to an angry mush.
I ran and then made a fast (fresh) dinner — rice, beans, fish, guacamole. And there were times yesterday afternoon and evening when I felt absolutely frantic. Ticking off all of the things I needed to do in those precious three hours: run, dinner, clean up, homework, bath for A, read to A for 20 minutes (part of the homework) and then, finally rest. That’s after waking at 5:30am: breakfast and lunches for me and A, clean up, shower, get us dressed, drop A off head to work. And then work for 9 hours straight. Most working days, I’m on the go from 5:30am-8:15pm.
I’ve had the good fortune to be able to make a flexible schedule for myself, at the cost of my benefits. But others aren’t so lucky. Currently our working culture is about being as busy as humanly possible. We take pride in working on the weekends and spending hours chained to our desks. It’s chilling and likely counter-productive.
Last night in the midst of the insanity, Arch lost his tooth. He put it in his tooth fairy jar and went to sleep. We went to sleep too. And forgot about the tooth. He woke in the morning and was, understandably, upset that the tooth fairy forgot him. We had a talk and Arch wrote a very polite note to the tooth fairy and so we’ll try again tonight. Today is my day to work on Five Plates and so I have flexibility to take care of this small task (we get him dollar coins and I need to run to the bank to get some). Today I am less crazed. I’m calm and able to do my work and be present with my family.
It’s a change and one that I’m grateful for. All of us need flexible schedules to take care of our families, and to take care of ourselves. I realize that the binder of women thing will distract us from a conversation that we need to have, and that’s disappointing. And yes, the person starting the conversation isn’t an advocate for women. But I am glad that at least it was mentioned. At least it was broadcast into the homes of millions of people of all political stripes. It’s something we need to keep talking about. It’s something that we need to change in our culture.