Let me say that I love this article, and I am not writing to quibble with the gross (though illustrative!) generalizations. It starts an important dialog, and I particularly loved the challenge to gendered tasks, like installing car seats.
For context, my husband is the one who works part-time from home and takes care of our daughter two days a week while I finish my professional training. Meaning he interfaces with our nanny, does the laundry, makes the extra grocery runs, takes her to the pediatrician, and signs for our deliveries. That said, like everyone, we have the gender inequities we’re working on, like that fact that he always drives and I ride in back with the baby. (I know, I know.)
The thing I really want to talk about is what happens when the woman wants to do certain “unequal” things. What if pureeing the food is appealing, a relaxing activity that I would choose? What if I enjoy researching cloth diapering options, even if it means I’m not spending that time on my creative projects and he is? What if I devour child development books because they are both personally and professionally fascinating?
The words “want,” “choose,” and “enjoy” warrant scrutiny as well as acknowledgment that degree of privilege changes the meaning of these words for each woman. What forces make us want what we want? How free is the choice? Can enjoying something ever be separated from the socialized comfort that derives from fulfilling one’s gender role? I’m telling you, I *get off* on making her lentil/kale/flax seed/curry/quinoa mush. It positively thrills me. But do I enjoy the activity itself or the control, the feeling of victory/mastery/winning, the fact that while doing so, I see myself for a brief moment as undeniably a Good Mom?
It may be impossible to answer, impossible to separate. And I wonder how much to sweat whether a particular happiness is a healthy or unhealthy happiness. There’s something obnoxious in saying it’s not enough to be happy, I have to be happy for feminist reasons for it to count. I’m trying not to spoil my happiness with theory. We are having a lot of fun being parents, and though I’ll keep reflecting on the whole sitting-in-the-back-seat-of-the-car thing, I’m not going to pout back there while I’m still doing it.