I Thought All Women Were Unhappy
Childhood was a very introspective time for me. I was an introvert, shy and quite quiet. I was always more comfortable observing and assessing the world, but not wanting to ask too many questions, so I made a lot of assumptions based on what I saw.
I remember seeing and believing that both of my parents both worked very hard, inside and outside of the house. Both of my parents were hands-on parents, and they helped get us ready, prepare our meals and send us to school. Maybe not equally, but it certainly was not foreign in our house for our dad to do our hair or cook us breakfast.
One thing that was also true was that I knew my dad liked spending time with us and that my mom seemed…frustrated. It seemed that no matter how much she did her to-do list was never ending.
It was not just my mom though. It was my aunts, friends’ mothers, and neighbours. All the women in my life seemed frustrated with…life. They seemed discontent, and I was worried.
As a child growing up, I thought boys were favoured over girls because girls grew up to be unhappy.
I did not understand the world then the way I do now.
What I was observing in the women around me was the result of the emotional labour they did, that society does not see, value or tabulate in a way where respite seems deserving to the doer.
The women in my life were not the head of the house; they were not the breadwinners, but they bared the brunt in relation to running the house, taking care of the children, managing guests and familial expectations and sometimes dealing with an unsupportive partner.
Things are a bit different now. Many women are the breadwinners in their house or make equivalent pay to their counterparts, but what has not shifted enough is the running of the house. Women are working, earning more and more money, but are still (seemingly) expected to do all (if not most) of the unpaid, unseen and arduous work for the family.
I now understand why the women around me growing up seemed…grumpy.
They were tired.
They were constantly being placed second…