Posts Tagged ‘Brigid Schulte’

I’m beginning to feel my age. Texting has changed our language, no longer can we write a complete sentence, we can barely complete a word. That baby isn’t adorable, he’s “adorb!” But what trips me up from time to time is the abundance of new acronyms! OTOH = on the other hand; IDK = I don’t know; YOLO = you only live once; WTF = what the ….heck?” It’s almost as if young people are creating their own cryptograms as a get-around for our generation.

Recently, I had to look up one of these – WFH! Short for Working from home,” a very popular post these days! It is usually accompanied by a smiley face emoji with a wink. I immediately laughed at this particular acronym because as a woman of a certain age, I’ve always worked from home. Even when I was driving to a job as a pre-school teacher, I would come home to cooking, cleaning and the usual things it takes to run a household.

When I settled into writing for a newspaper, I always wrote in a corner of my dining room. When I was done, I’d email my copy in and walk into the kitchen and start dinner. Even Great Grandma Ada had her counseling office right next to her kitchen!

But today, our generation has raised some strong, post-feminist women who believe in an EQUAL partnership with their spouse. They make flow charts about who changes the sheets and does the laundry, who cooks and who cleans up the kitchen, who makes the list and shops. And all the quiet work of scheduling doctor’s appointments for the kids, or tracking their currently non-existent playdates and sports events.

In Nashville today, we have nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of Covid19,  – “IOW” – in other words, lots and lots of people are WFH.

Working from home means we see cats crawling across keyboards, dogs still bark at the mailman, one guy accidentally picks up his knee and we get to see his boxer shorts, we hear babies crying! During our virtual will planning session with our lawyer, her baby was inconsolable and I wondered, “Where’s your husband?”

So if you were wondering how the division of home labor stacks up, gender-wise, during our Corona Crisis, I’ve got just the podcast for you! NPR’s Terri Gross interviewed the author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time,” Brigid Schulte. She tells us that even today, women, enlightened, smart, woke women are bearing the brunt of the housework. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/860091230/pandemic-makes-evident-grotesque-gender-inequality-in-household-work

“We’ve got this grand mythology (breadwinner vs homemaker model) that that’s really what a family should be,” she says. “We still think that one person should go out to work and be responsible for all of the work and earning and supporting the family. … And there should be … somebody always available at home to do the care and carework.”

But Schulte says that families aren’t monolithic and shouldn’t be treated as such. She says the pandemic has created an opportunity to start a dialogue about the distribution of household tasks.”

Schulte says that she had been carrying alot of radioactive anger around, feeling overwhelmed in her marriage. But she brought up the Notorious RBG, who once had a call from school to pick up her child, and she told the school secretary to call her husband, it was his turn! She said to treat your marriage and family almost like a business, you wouldn’t want your business to fail, right?

I saw a funny YouTube of a woman pleading to God NOT to make her teach math. I remember when the Bride first started homeschooling, I told her her husband is a natural teacher. In higher education it’s called being an “academic.” In fact, he gets awards for his research and teaching skills. Harmony prevailed when they figured out he could do some home-schooling when he wasn’t in the hospital, and she continues to enjoy cooking and baking bread. Sourdough bread.

When she’s not saving lives in her ER. Or teaching a Yoga Zoom class.

I have a feeling since our pandemic quarantine, lots of men around the world are waking up to the tireless domestic work it takes to run a household. The patience it takes to teach and nurture a child. Our L’il Pumpkin learned how to ride a two-wheeler during our lockdown. The Love Bug built a diorama of a fox for her last day of Zoom class.

Now’s the time to have that critical conversation with your loved one. Don’t keep picking up their socks and putting them in the hamper. Don’t hold grudges. If you’re both WFH, pick a day to do housework – Bob always vacuums, I always cook. He weeds the garden and has started doing the laundry, I do the bathrooms. We both sew masks. Don’t let underlying resentment eat away at your marriage.

OTOH we’ve started doing Pilates together, two mats on the floor and a Zoom class every Tuesday and Saturday. And it’s a wonderful thing.


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This getting back to normal business can be frustrating. Obviously it’s difficult waking up and not having a toddler waltz into your room to escort you to breakfast; or should I say the feast of fresh fruits and juices and any other breakfast food imaginable no longer awaits you on a breezy terrace with the ocean looking on. No, it’s back to making my own coffee and cutting up my own banana in yogurt looking at the mountains, all the while waiting for a single crocus to bloom…really, shouldn’t that have happened already?

So I did what any red-blooded American woman would do after finally getting over my flu-like illness. I went to the gym – I figured if I kept waiting for spring it would never come. Like the proverbial boiling pot. And on my way home just now, I  listened to an author on NPR about feeling time crunched because she was a working mom. Way to put my problems into perspective! My daughter was returning to her everyday life which included the usual; grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry and also a sick toddler and a job that was anything but 9 to 5. It was more like 11pm to 7am, then she’d get some sleep and wake up to write her charts while the Love Bug napped.

I thought she must be feeling overwhelmed about now. So I made a mental note to tell her about this book since its author was heartbreakingly good on the radio. Brigid Schulte, a Washington Post columnist, wrote Overwhelmed; Work Love and Play When No One Has the Time. She talked about her generation and how they didn’t want to have a traditional marriage, the kind their parents had where the woman was in charge of the home, even if she had a full or part-time job. She wanted a more equitable distribution of work – like one always loads the dishwasher at night and one will always empty in the morning.

Last one out of bed makes the bed, and even if he forgets to put the pillows back on the bed you don’t do it…you leave them on the floor. I don’t think men understand just how hard that is for us, not picking up pillows.

Eventually Schulte and her husband did get to that place of marital housework justice, but it was a shock to see how far they had slipped into a more traditional model. She had to rewrite her to-do list, which is surprisingly the cover art of her book. Because after writing down every single thing she was trying to cram into her days, she realized that if she didn’t plan for her own recreational time, it would not happen.

I was just with my father who’s had a stroke, and sitting in a hospital room really makes you remember: … We don’t have that much time; what do you want to make of your life here on this Earth? And so, my to-do list is really: What are my priorities? What is most important to me? And then everything else, everything my to-do list used to be, I call the other 5 percent — it shouldn’t take more than 5 percent of my time or energy. There’s a lot of stuff that I used to do that I don’t do anymore. http://www.npr.org/2014/03/11/288596888/not-enough-hours-in-the-day-we-all-feel-a-little-overwhelmed

In many ways the Bride is lucky. Her Groom does his fair share around the house and truly shares child care when he is at home. Maybe my SIL could use this book? In Mexico she said she never gets any down time. To which I foolishly replied, but doesn’t your daughter go to school every day? Because she said, “Yes, but I go to work.”

If I were a list maker, this would be my list for today: 1) make bed, 2) pick up tickets for Book Festival, 3) search for a purple crocus. And I only make the bed because Nell said even if that’s all you do in a day, at least you did something!

Breakfast Anyone?

Breakfast Anyone?

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