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Being a Feminist Can Be Humiliating

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This mom thought she was taking an innocent stand against her husband's laziness, but she ended up being punished.


Momlogic's Maria: I've found that here are many things in a marriage that the woman is traditionally expected to do -- remembering family members' birthdays, buying baby gifts when there's a new arrival, asking what to bring to a dinner party and buying new underwear for their husband. I imagine because I am a woman, I find most of these tasks to be fun. But some responsibilities -- the sucky ones -- I stand strong and refuse to take sole responsibility for, like writing Thank You notes, doing dishes and changing dirty diapers. People sometimes look at me funny and I usually don't care. But recently, my proud stance embarrassed me.

When my husband, daughter and I go to visit my in-laws, we stay in their home. We grew up in that town so I love to visit with old friends, go to my old haunts and spend time with my wonderful in-laws. My husband loves it too, but for different reasons. He basically walks in the door and becomes 12 years old again. He watches TV, wrestles with his brother (who is also an adult) and takes for granted every glass of fresh orange juice his mother squeezes for him. He also waits for everyone to clean up after him.

After the third day of our last visit, I got tired of doing his laundry, emptying the trash cans and bringing his dirty drink glasses out of our room. What was more tiring was asking him to help me do these things, so I stopped. I decided that I would adopt his carefree mentality and enjoy life at "Mom and Dad's." I sat back and let my mother-in-law dress my kid. When she asked me if I wanted something to drink, I told her! I texted my friends while she made dinner. I left all of the dirty laundry on the floor. It was so liberating!

I was enjoying the fresh squeezed fruits of my decision and alerted her my friends were coming over for a visit. She -- for the first time in our relationship -- gave me a disappointed look and said, "I thought this afternoon you could clean up instead." Bright red is an understatement when describing the color my face turned. I thought about asking her if she'd made this same suggestion to her son, but I refrained. I wasn't about to put this nice woman in the middle of my marriage issues. I felt SO STUPID. My little lazy stand-off with my husband ended up making me look like an ass.

I ran straight to my husband and told him how humiliated I felt. He told said, "OK. I'll be right there -- once this game is over." I was fuming, but weakened by embarrassment. I ran right up the stairs and straightened that room right up. I apologized to my mother-in-law profusely. Then, I asked her for the addresses of her friends who sent our daughter gifts so I could send them Thank You notes. Sometimes you've got to know when to fold 'em.

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Midwest Mother Of Four December 29, 2008, 2:06 PM

This is so true. I find myself doing things for my husband just to avoid embarrassment all the time. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Anonymous December 29, 2008, 3:59 PM

Don’t be embarrassed… at least you tried to make a stand and it must have been nice to be a lazy sack for a few minutes of your life! However it was destined to fail when you tried it at the inlaws. Try it at home next time!

Anonymous December 29, 2008, 4:48 PM

Well, I for one don’t think you should be embarassed. When we got married, I set the ground rules. I don’t pick up after my husband or wait on him hand and foot. We’re equals. Yes, we’ll ask each other for things and land a hand whenever, but that’s entierly different. You put yourself in this position. Don’t be a doormat.

Uly December 30, 2008, 12:17 AM

Your mother-in-law asked you, as a GUEST in her HOME, to clean up for her?

Not cool. Not cool at all.

(Mind, you shouldn’t be acting like a slob just because she babies her son, but beyond that level of courtesy she shouldn’t expect you to act like free maid service.)

Emma December 30, 2008, 11:07 AM

Uly, I don’t think her mother in law was asking her to clean the house, she was asking her to clean up after herself, which being that she is an adult I think is only resonable. I was just at my grandparent’s house without my husbandm, and even tho my mom was waiting on my children hand and feet I pulled my own weight doing dishes,doing some light cleaning and keeping my room and my son’s room descent. I know I’m a guest in their house but that does not mean that I’m going to be a burden. I”m an adult and no matter where I am I have to clean up after myself.

Weekends Off December 31, 2008, 3:32 PM

I think the next time you decide to take such a stand you should do it in your own home and don’t slob off on your MIL.

DalaiMama September 22, 2009, 3:18 PM

Soooo…my 12 year old daughter says to me, “You’re cool but… when I grow up I want to like grandma Sarah. Grandama Sarah has a bee-yooo-tee-ful house because she takes care of everything.”
I tried to lead her into a conversation about how that’s not fair and she goes to me “It’s not like we’re taking advantage of her. She’s just immaculate. And she loves to take care of everyone. that’s how come everyone feels so good at her house.”
I can’t deny it. My mom is a crazed feminist. She doesn’t cook, clean or wash for a man and she is a stickler about everybody splitting everything down the line and doing their share. I’m totally laid back about housework and my husband hates it but I felt like I can’t coddle anyone let alone a grown man.
My mother in law is a relic from the Dark Ages. She cooks, cleans and has this huge warm house stocked with food where everyone loves to go.

I feel so conflicted.

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