Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Seperate But Equal

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -Maya Angelou

I have a vivid image of my grandmother branded in my conscious. The image of a woman who worked 8-12 hour days, came home, cooked, washed clothes, and kept her home. It was not because there was no husband, but because that husband had no role. He was neither the breadwinner nor the homemaker.

My grandmother supported her husband in every sense of the word*. And when you talk to her today she is tired...rightly so.

Maybe that picture is one of the many items, in my emotional baggage, that makes it such a heavy load. It is tied to feelings that have not yet been laid to rest; feelings of resentment I had toward my grandfather as a child. Resentment that today manifests itself in my own relationship. It is likely reason I give KB the side eye when he wakes up before me but asks me to help him get ready for the day, preparing his clothes and lunch. Or the source of my wrinkled brow when he digs into a laundry bag full of clean clothes and asks "can you put these away"? It could be the cause of confusion when I am asked to prepare a dinner plate for the man who cooked the meal in the first place.

It's not that I cannot do these things or that I am unwilling to. It is the mere fact that it is expected of me - as it was expected of my grandmother- because I am (we are) female. If I were at home all day and my man was bringing home the all means I'd do it all with a smile. At the same token, I would think if he was home all day, he'd do the housework. I am not home all day. I work just like he works and when I come home, I expect the same things. Unfortunately, expectation without communication or action leads to nothing but sour faces.

I do not want to resent my man. My grandmother has had a long stressful journey in companionship, and that is a road I would rather not follow. All I ask is that at the end of the day, I can come home to a man who has put a separate but equal amount of work into running our household. I can work with compromise! What I cannot work with is a man who has been there for hours, at the kitchen table, waiting for dinner (i.e. the grandpas of the world). That is not a picture I wanted painted for our future little ones; after all, they will never forget how we made them feel.

*My grandfather had a work related injury that caused him to go on disability. He was not, however, disabled. He was physically able and could have gotten a desk job or helped out around the house.

1 comment:

Ms. S said...

Whoo wee! I feel ya. I don't know where my resentment comes from... Although I clearly knew of grandma and Mr.'s relationship it hasn't effected me as it has you.

But definitely. Household work should be a shared responsiblity. Work schedule can be a better dictator as to the who/how/when of household work contirbution.

For example, remember my brief living experience with one of my ex's? Homeboy tried to get pissed that he coooked dinner more than me. But, he got off work at 2:30pm and was home by 3pm. By the time, I finished work and school, it was 9pm. Who's cooking dinner at 9pm when it could've been prepared at 6pm? I'm like shit... make your own dinner and I'll buy my own food on my way home.

Anyhoo, I digress. I truly believe this is an issue that hits black culture harder than it does anyone else. I feel like we think about these things alot more than out white counterparts and it has a negative impact on our relationship development. Why? Because black women have more backbone and are less submissive? Idk... so much can be said about that.