Most weekday mornings, Jim leaves for work before Lila and I wake up. Lately, she’s gotten more curious about his exact whereabouts (and, you know, everything else in life…) so we’ve had more conversations about Daddy being at work, how he got there, what he’s doing, etc. And I didn’t think anything of this until a different conversation earlier this week.
L: Where Daddy go?
Me: He’s at work today.
L: Ohhh. Only daddies go to work?
Me: No, Mommy goes to work everyday, too.
L: No! Only Daddy go to work.
And so on and so on as I debated the merits of working with a two year old.
And my dismayed working-momma heart felt like saying, “My biggest goal as a parent has been to avoid putting you into a box based on your gender or any other characteristic. I’ve only wanted to make sure you know that you can pursue anything you want to in life. Right now that means going down the big slide by yourself or brushing your own teeth, but down the road it means you will chart your own course. That’s why both your parents cook and clean and change diapers and go to work. And if one of us decided not to work outside the home, that would be ok too.”
In the process of trying to maneuver her surroundings into this perfectly balanced utopia of gender-neutral toys and clothes, I neglected to explain these most fundamental ideas to my daughter.
This doesn’t feel like being a feminist to me, it just feels practical.
It’s not to say I’d be happier if Lila chooses to spend her life painting or engineering or nursing or doing anything else – I just want her to have the confidence and intent to choose what suits her.
And I realized this week that if I don’t pause to tell her what I do all day, I’m not modeling this well at all.