Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Well Done Sister Suffragette

It's come to my attention in recent weeks just how many of my friends pack lunch for their husbands to take to work. In fact, I , so far, have not found another friend who does not pack a lunch for her husband. Me, being a non-lunch packer, always assumed I was with the majority. I am actually shocked at my findings. Before this week, it had actually never occurred to me to pack a lunch for Spencer. He knows how to make a lunch as well as I do. If he wants to eat , he can make it. He's capable. I actually rarely make him lunch when he's home. Lunch has always been a do-it-yourself meal at our house.

I don't know how many of you know this about me, but I have quite a feminist streak. Enough of a feminist streak that if I lived during the Victorian Era, you can bet I would have been out marching with the rest of the suffragettes carrying my "Votes For Women" sign. I love staying home with my children. I know it is important, but it was a big internal struggle for me. There was one point, during my college years, when I was really excelling in school, that I considered the work force over child raising. I had so much going for me and so many people encouraging me. I regularly find myself jealous of Spencer off at school, furthering his education and have more than once considered letting him stay home and becoming his sugar momma. I had a hard time giving up my maiden name. My first year of married life, I hyphenated my name on all my school work. It wasn't until I was pregnant with Parker that I finally had my name legally changed for the sake of my children.

I won't continue to go into very much because a lot of it will probably make me very unpopular and bring up some hot button issues I don't really care to debate. When I was engaged, a middle aged man said to me (and I think I remember it word for word because it irritated me so bad), "Congratulations. You know what that means? Three meals a day. You'll be making him three meals a day for the rest of your lives." Oh no you didn't!!! You didn't just insinuate I'm in charge of cooking because I'm a woman!

Maybe it was that comment that subconsciously turned me off from packing Spencer's lunch. I don't think I learned that at home. I grew up in a fairly traditional family. My parents for the most part fulfilled the traditional male/female roles. I don't know mom...did you ever pack Dad's lunch? I only remember him going out to eat. I know she always helped in the yard, but I don't really ever remember my dad pushing a vacuum. And his idea of doing the dishes was usually assigning out jobs to me and my brothers (at least he included my brothers). He did make the occasional Saturday night omelette's. Regardless of the fact that they carried the traditional roles, my brothers and I all had both inside and outside chores and I certainly never felt suppressed as a female at my house. My parents had a very loving, cooperative, and healthy relationship. I don't remember my mother being any sort of a feminist, but I think she has picked up a little bit of it in recent years.

Spencer's family was similar in this regards....a traditional family life. Yet somehow, when we married, we never completely fell into those traditional roles. I luckily married someone who didn't
expect me to fulfill the traditional woman's roles in a household. I actually hate the word expect in regards to roles of husbands and wives. If Spencer ever expected me to do anything, I wouldn't do it for that very reason. Luckily he doesn't expect me to pack his lunch. Because we all know that isn't happening.

I have never felt that dishes, cleaning, cooking, and children are my sole responsibility. I tend to do more because I'm home more often, but not a ton more. Spencer definitely vacuums more often than I do. He makes dinner (and reads the recipe blog) as much as I do. And in the same way, I know how to fire up a grill, patch walls, work a compound miter, mow the lawn and kill spiders. We work together both indoors and out. I realize most of you who pack lunch for your husbands do it out of love, not expectations. But I don't feel I love my husband any less because I would never dream of packing his lunch. We share responsibilities out of love for one another.

I could write about gender roles forever. Just to keep the record straight...I truly love being a woman...especially in today's world. I fulfill MANY traditional female roles and love every minute of it. I have never once wished I were a man. And I am more than grateful to be a wife, mother, daughter and sister. I just don't feel it's my role to pack Spencer's lunch.

I am highly interested in every one's thoughts on the subject. PLEASE post comments. I'm including two polls on the side of my blog. Please place your vote...and a vote for your husband (blogging is one woman's role I take great pleasure in fulfilling). I'm anxious to see the findings.


utmomof5 said...

I agree with you!!! I say what works for you and your husband is what is important. Not what your parents or his parents did. It took me a few years of marraige to learn this.

I would have been right next to you in the womans rights thing. But the point is for woman to be able to do what they want. Even if that is the traditional role. The point was for women to have a choice!!! I think this is a hot button issue especially within the church.
I used to make my hubbies lunch but it was out of love not because of expectations. If I didn't do it he would do it and it was no big deal. My hubby cooks more than I do and he is better at it!!!

trentnjeanmorello said...

This was a great post. Trent actually read it with me. About packing Spencer's lunch-just do whatever you want to do. I pack Trent's lunch when we are running out of time and he is getting ready for work or if I have time during cooking dinner I will pack it, but by no means do I pack his lunch every night. He works nights. He doesn't ever expect me to do it but if I have time I will.
Second, it's good that Spencer does not have expectations for you...I know Trent does not either and when I was working during the days he would make dinner, run the errands and clean the apartment. I think whatever works, works.
Ok, I'll stop rambling now.

Jeffrey Benson said...

I couldn't fathom my wife (of the future) packing my lunch for me... But then, I generally have a hard time with people doing things for me that I could just as easily do myself.

Traci Elizabeth said...

OOOOH...what a topic. I am ready to put my 2 cents in. I have 2 sister in laws who have a lot of feminist views, so I have thought about it a lot over the years.

I am so not a feminist. Not in any way. Actually I am way on the other side. I don't like the idea of a woman president, I don't like the idea of women in the military, or police force. (Okay stop the boos.) I think that my views come from the fact that it seems as women become more and more determined to climb the corporate ladder, the wholesome family life has deteriated.

I have no problem with woman working, but I definately feel that the family comes first.

I pack Camerons lunch everyday. He works soooo hard and has such little time, I am happy to do it. Cameron does all the work outside and I take care of the inside of the home. I can't remember the last time he did the dishes, but if asked I know he would. And I dont think he has ever made dinner (but that is probably a blessing)

We have our roles and it works for us. My parents are quite different but my sister and I are quite the same!

Heck, maybe my thoughts will change once I have more kids! =)

Lauri said...

I know this is going to be a hot topic with a lot of posts. It is really interesting how we have been socialized and how the gender roles have evolved over the years. I see it in little ways as well as big ones. Here is a little one: When I got married, I wrote ALL of the thank you notes. I saw it as something I should do. It is interesting now to see many thank you notes coming from the husband. It is wonderful to see husbands taking a more hands on role in child rearing. Families will be blessed for that.

I like Traci, have very traditional views on family roles. Most of that comes from my membership in the church as well as the roles of my own parents. I like to think that I did the things that I did as a wife and mother because I wanted to (which I did) but I know that part of it also comes with the time in which I was raised and the socialzation I was a part of in our society.

However, given the chance, I wouldn't be in the work force right now but rather at home being a wife and mother/grandmother. (well maybe I would still have gotten my education and would be working at least part time right now)

This will be interesting to read...maybe something I can use in my classes.

jeanine said...

My parents were also very traditional... however since I had no brothers while I was growing up we were expected to do things like take out the trash, mow the lawn, etc. I always liked working with tools and putting things together (which is a good thing because Rich doesn't like it.)

Even with all of that I'm with Traci and your mom. I appreciate all that has been done in the past so that I can have options and freedoms as a woman. I don't have a problem with women in the work force and think that they do things that men can't. That being said, I think that many times women sacrifice family for careers when it's unnecessary.
I remember one of my professors at BYU talking about how she always thought that she would work but in the long run decided to stay home. She filled in for someone one week at a job and got all sorts of praise for what she did. She thought "no wonder women work! My kids certainly don't praise me like this for packing their lunch/cleaning/doing the dishes."
I have never had the desire to work outside of the home. Rich certainly doesn't EXPECT me to stay home... but I know that he loves that I WANT to.
I remember talking to Mr. Vaughn one time after we had graduated. He told me that he could always tell which kids had moms who stayed home. I thought that was really interesting for a HIGH SCHOOL teacher to say.
As for the packing lunch thing... Rich comes home every day for lunch. I try to fix something while he's on the way home though so that he has more time to play with the boys before he has to head back. I think I would probably pack him a lunch if he worked further away. I did when we both worked... but I was packing my own lunch so it wasn't much trouble to pack 2 instead of 1.
Rich does help out a ton around the house though. He is always helping with the dishes, bathrooms, and picking up toys. He sweeps and mops the kitchen most of the time too. Like your mom said, men are more hands on now than ever before--and I love it.
Okay, that was REALLY long... I might think of more to say as there get to be more comments but that's all for now!

Kelly said...

I am not a true feminist, but I do believe that men and women can have different roles and make it work for them. I once made his lunch, when we were both working, and I had to make mine too- but after staying at home, it just fell by the wayside. When we have leftovers, I put it in a separate dish for him to take the next day, but that is about it. If we don't have any, he packs his lunch while we are all still in bed. I don't think the thought has ever crossed his mind to have me do it. We don't even think or talk about it- it must not be a big deal for either of us.
As for those that do- well, whatever works. I would feel bad for those whose husbands expect it, because that is not how my husband views things, and trust me, he would be sorely disappointed if he did! Dana is way better at vacuuming and dusting than me (those are the chores he selects for his Saturdays), but I don't mind if he does them or not, to be honest. I just love that he is willing to do whatever, and I just let him have at it. I don't let him do laundry, but after dinner, he does some of the dishes (I am sort of anal about the dishwasher, so that is my fault!).
I always thought I would stay home while my kids were little, and honestly, I never want to work full-time- ever. I do miss teaching, a ton, but it will have it's time again in my life- I want to work only part-time later...I miss school, sometimes, but not the pressure- but I loved it when I didn't have other priorities. I am afraid I wouldn't do as well now that I have a family and goal is to finish my M.E. within 5 years- we will see how that works out!
This is interesting, and I love the diversity of everyone that has responded!

Jeffrey Benson said...

This has all been quite interesting. If I was forced to think about ti, I would say my ideals lean more to the feminist side. Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for the woman who chooses to be a homemaker and raise her children. But I am also all for the ideal of the non-traditional family. I think the man can just as easily stay home while the wife work, or even switch off. There's something to be said for male influence as much as female. I do believe that, if possible, it is best that a parent does stay home to raise the kids. Maybe I just say this because I would not mind being a stay-at-home dad.
I also have a great deal of respect for women who can climb the corporate ladder and achieve positions of power. It is not an easy task in todays world. This includes Hillary Clinton. Say what you will about her personally, she has done something that even 10 years ago would not be possible.
I also do not think it is any shame if a woman wants to work in her field of study for a while before she starts a family. The prophet has encouraged us to get as much education as possible, but what good is and education if it never gets used?
Final point... Women do need to have their independence, even if they choose to be homemakers. I think there is nothing more sad than when a women's entire identity becomes her husband and children's.

Autumn said...

OHHHH. I love this topic. I love topics like these! Its so interesting to hear what people have to say. I love it.

So, I have an interesting lead in to my comment. I think its fascinating. I had Jake answer the poll on the right. He didn't think his response fit any in particular, so he felt like he had to choose accordingly. For the record, he chose "No, but I wouldn't mind if she did."

HA! I think I pack it for him 97% of the time. Talk about a discussion in and of itself.

BUT this is where its interesting. As I was formulating my thoughts about this post, he actually hit the same exact point that could quite possibly could solve this issue for us.

He said "Ideally we could have a regular meal every night and I'd just eat leftovers every day. In fact, I'd like that, and I wouldn't even mind packing it myself." (Before he mentioned the dinner leftovers, he said he just thinks its nice when I do it for him.)

SO. He actually backed up a point I hadn't made. Which is the revelatory point in our situation I believe.

I have a strange relationship with cooking. Given the right ingredients and situation (distraction free, great tools, planned ahead, etc), I throrougly enjoy it. But too often I do NOT have the ideal situation, therefore we have a below average meal.

To this I am quite ashamed. I really feel that being at home all day this is the least I could do, especially if I enjoy it, which I do...under the right circumstance. And I'd feel this way regardless of how Jake felt. (Sadly, he's super appreciative when I even make breakfast for dinner...does that shed light on my weakness or WHAT?!)

SO. I think since I very much lack in the making great dinners on a regular basis department, I feel like I should at least make it up to him in a lunch, which I can excel at far easier than I can at dinner. Lunch can be anything for heaven's sake.

So obviously I could write a whole post of my own on this. Sorry, I have so much more to say even still.

In conclusion about the lunch bit, its very interesting because I think Jake's love language is very much through food/meals. Really, it means SO much to him when I do this. Which kind of annoys me because I don't like doing it JUST because of that feminine look. UGH. I don't like conforming!! BUT. What can I say? It means so much to him. I suppose the reverse could be true of him. He really doesn't prefer my love language (written words of expression) BUT it would mean SO much to me if he'd do it as often as I'd love...

So in our discussion about this post, Jake said "I'd really like it if you made me lunch every day (which I feel like I do most of the time!), but I think you'd really like it if I wrote you a love note every day."

So I have to add a bit more about the feminine stuff. Its funny because I too love my maiden name. Not because of anything in particular except that its ME. I will ALWAYS be Autumn (maiden name). Only since my marriage date will I be Autumn (new last name). Jake simply does not understand why I feel so strongly about this.

I love my old scriptures because they have my maiden name on them. (Too bad I lost the BOM!! I think I'll have to replace them at some point...) Its always fun for me to see old friends from way back when I feel like I have to throw in my maiden name to remind them of who I am. I love that familiarity. I feel like THAT is who I am.

I think part of my issue with my new name is because for so long I knew "Sister (new last name)" as Jake's mom. NOT that there's anything wrong with her-except I'm me, not her. And suddenly, we have the same name! That was pretty strange for me.

I have to say that I too would have been in the front lines of the women's movement. In particular for the right to vote.

I feel strongly about having a parent be with their children, especially as infants. And yet, more often than one might imagine, I find myself thinking about how great Jake would be during the day, especially when it comes to patience. More than once I've fantasized about being the breadwinner, especially during school days years. I for sure love being a woman. It is fun to think about earning the money though.

About extended roles. I grew up with 5 sisters, no brothers. I've always taken great pride that I could outwork almost any boy I knew. My sisters and I all took pride in this. My Dad jokingly called us "boys" and we never thought it was odd to mow the lawn, muck out horse stalls, take out the trash, etc. I'm so glad my parents raised us like that.

I still like to cross the lines in departments like these. BUT. When it comes to home improvement, I don't mind Jake doing that stuff at all. Mostly because I'm not interested at all. I like feeling like I had a hand in a project, but by and large I much prefer Jake doing handyman stuff.

I think I better stop there. I just wrote a paragraph on traditional roles but I'm afraid I didn't articulate it as well as I wanted to. I might add more later. We'll see.

jeanine said...

Okay... I'll probably be hopping in and commenting on other people's comments. I hope no one minds. This is a great topic for which I have a lot of opinions.
Jeff. I agree with a lot of what you say. I agree that there's nothing wrong with a woman working in her field of study for a few years. However, if she doesn't have that opportunity I don't think her education isn't used. My mom and I were talking about this not too long ago. Someone asked her if she was ever able to use her education. She replied that she taught for a year before she had yours truely. Then she told me that she used her education for much more than just that one year. She uses it all the time as a mom! Maybe I"m biased because I never worked in my "field of study". I do use every bit of my education on a daily basis though. I think that everything I learned made me who I am and helped shape how I want to raise my children. It also fueled my desire to learn more... which you can do whatever you do with life.
A few people also talked about stay-at-home-dads. I agree that at least one parent should be home with the children if at all possible. What better care givers can you have? And while I think Rich would do a fine job if he stayed home with our boys I don't think that anything can replace a MOTHER. I can't really put it into words but a mother provides something that a dad can't. And I don't mean to bring religion into this but... the Proclamation on the family does state that "fathers... are responsible to provide the necessities of life... Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." It also says that fathers and mothers should be equal partners in this--and "equal" is different to each couple. So, that's my two cents... for now.
And if you get sick of me commenting just tell me "Jeanine that's enough!"

Crystal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Karen said...

Katie, I never pack my husband a lunch. I have tried a few times, but I never get a good response from it. I think if I made a lunch for my husband everyday, he would probably throw it out and still go out to eat. He is sooo funny. I loved this post.

Crystal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Traci Elizabeth said...

Okay, so my husband is getting into the conversation. We just had a good talk about it. He had a valid point.

Katie stated that if Spencer expected something out of her she wouldnt do it for that exact reason. Crystal had said the same thing, but her comment was deleted.

Cameron had a good point. He said that a lot of women have that perspective, but if a husband decided to stop working or going to school just because his wife expected it of him...there would be big problems. Its true. We as wives expect our husbands to go to work and expect our husbands to provide for us, but if our husbands expect us to make their lunches or clean the house they are being sexist. Just a point. I am really enjoying hearing everyones thoughts!!

Abbey said...

That is so fun. I love to read your blogs. Just so you know my dad always packed his own lunch. I pack Ross' just because I know he doesn't have the time and I dont want him dropping five dollars a night at Wendy's. That's just me being cheap. I also loved how you mentioned sharing the chores. I was just talking about how you helped in the building of your shed. I can still remember you pushing that lawn mower too. You are definetly a strong women. By the way saw that your house is occupied now. What a blessing!!!

Amanda B. said...

No worries Katie.... I never pack Aaron's lunch. He gets up and is gone before I roll out of bed. Like Kelly, if there are left overs after dinner, I may put some in a separate container for him while cleaning up dinner, but that is really just cleaning up from dinner- not so much to pack his lunch- just saving a step. He doesn't mind getting up and packing his own lunch. Why should I get up just to do that? He is perfectly capable, like you say.

I believe that male and female rolls are, generally, whatever makes the home run smoothly for the couple. I do most of the housework, not because it is "womans work", but, like you- I am the one home to do it. Right now, that is my job and his job is to go to work. If I was working, you can guarentee house work would be split equally. I would be willing to mow and such, but he enjoys doing it, and I don't, so he does it. He does help with dishes and stuff as needed. Basically, my point it, men and women should just do what needs done in whatever way works best for them.

Crystal said...

Just to jump back in so people don't think that I don't do anything. I really don't mind cleaning or cooking, staying home with the kids and that stuff. It is just the lunches!! I don't know why, but it just rubs me the wrong way. But as Zac told me tonight, maybe I just need to learn from the rest of ya'll. Who knows, it could just be a pride issue. That is one of my downfalls.

Pedersens said...

I rarely make my husbands lunch just because we both work and go to school so we are on the same schedule. We make our own lunches and help each other out with laundry, dishes, yard work etc... I just think it is like that right now because we aren't settled yet. We have no kids and we are both on the same schedule- things will probably change in a few years.
Great topic!

Shalece said...

Wow what a response you have gotten! I have mixed feelings about this all. My mom has always waited on my dad, especially when it comes to food, dinners etc. I have tended to be a bit like that because that's what I saw growing up. But then again I remember my sister saying 'I will never wait on my husband like that, it's ridiculous!' So I guess it comes down to individuals and couple's personalities. Craig works his buns off everyday working. I work hard at home with the kids. When he's out in the day and won't be in the office, and he reminds me, I make him a lunch. (I must admit it's a tough one for me to remember to do). I do a lot of the house work, but he helps a ton. And lately he does the laundry more than I do. And he mostly cleans the shower..two things I hate to do.. :) Again, I think it all depends on the couples and what works for them!

SHIRLEY'S said...

You have really gotten some comments... I have mixed feelings but nothing that Im totally against. Im home because thats what i want to do, and matts at work because thats what he wants to do. I really dont think I have ever made his lunch, but Im sure I would if he asked.

It was fun to read all your responses. GREAT TOPIC!

Bandanamom said...

I'm totally butting in here and though I know your aunt, you don't know me from Adam (I know your grandma joan too).

I too have many feminist leanings. Yet I have always been the stay at home mom with the kids and let my husband fall into the traditional male role of the off working and taking care of the outdoor chores while I did the indoor.

Now in our early 40s we have a lawn guy, handy man and mechanic who take care of all the outdoor and I have a maid who comes once a week. But a once a week maid doesn't take away the fact that the dishes, beds, etc. have to be done every day. And here's where I think I made a big mistake and some of these other girls with 'traditional' thinking may have made a big mistake as well. Even though I now am back going to school part time, and even though I actually work several hours each day from home on a little business I run on the side (my children are all in school, the oldest about to go off to college so I am available to them once school is out) - I am still the one 100% in charge of feeding everyone and doing all the household chores.

My husband works hard and I appreciate it. But I have to say that sometimes I really do resent the fact that he is the one with the most free time once he gets hom from work. He has the time to explore his hobbies and interests, and I am still the taxi for my children, getting meals fixed, etc.

So I think you're really on the right track Katie and that you'll have less regrets when you get older as a result.

Cynthia said...

I have never packed Dave's lunch, probably because early in our marriage he worked construction at 4:30a.m. and I was sleep deprived with babies. But I do get up to take care of our irrigation when it comes into our neighborhood at 3:30 am.
It's funny how we fall into certain roles and performing tasks often without ever conversing about them.
Here is an issue I have often heard from my girlfriends - Why does my husband need applause and a certificate of recognition when he does a load of laundry or some other daily task that is not normally on his schedule? Now, we BOTH work hard around here every single day of our lives, but come on . . . we've done that same task hundreds of times without applause. hmmm. . . .
(wait, . . . did I say 'we'? That situation is purely hypothetical. It never happens in our house. ha ha)