As soon as the pandemic hit, women started to become a little uncomfortable. There was a slight nervousness that seemed to rustle through all of us, as if we were connected in some way, not quite having a full understanding of why, but knowing this virus would somehow add yet another load to our gender’s back.
We felt it. We knew it. It was as if we all joined in on the collective *sigh* of “Yeah…we know…it falls on us…again.”
As I’m sure you’re aware, more and more women are feeling like they have no choice but to quit the workforce to stay at home with their children because of the pandemic. Because we own the beautiful gift of being the only gender to have the ability to give life, historically, we have also been the chosen gender to mostly take the lion’s share of care for those lives. So when an international crisis hits, causing parenthood to reel into panic-mode, women once again go to the closet and take out their superhero cape and take one for the team.
Whether we like it or not, or whether we agree with it or not, we are built for this. Don’t get me wrong here: I am in no way saying we deserve to be the gender that continually gets stomped back 3 decades every time the world decides we’re the expendable ones. What I am saying is that we are actually the stronger gender.
For all the time the world has existed, time and time again, women have proven their undeniable strength and power. I mean, why else for centuries, through social norms and legislation, have we been held back and made to believe we are not as valuable as men? This is actually a powerful signal that we must be so dangerous, so strong, and so valuable that we need to be contained, controlled, and shut down. We are literally the only gender that can populate the earth. We own the limitless powers of intuition and persuasion that have raised and obliterated nations. We can raise our children to be independent, self-sufficient, socially-balanced individuals, all while running an entire corporation at the same time. We can smack you across your head in one minute and feed you a freshly baked pie in the next and no one questions it.
This does not mean we should succumb to the pressures that harkens us back to 1952. I know…we are feeling the pressure. Sometimes it just makes financial sense to be the gender that quits the workforce to take care of the kiddos, right? The mate that makes the most money should be the one that continues to work and if that’s the woman, then the woman stays home. This is simple math, right? Nope—actually it’s not that simple and here’s why: women still only make 81 cents for every dollar a man makes, and if you're Black or Latina, it’s even lower. This means that what “makes sense” is stacked against us from the start. We’re 2 steps behind before we even take our first step.
Staying home to school our children for some might be a blessing. I think for most of us it’s enough to make us want to curl up in a corner and rock ourselves into oblivion. I’ve read story after story of fathers simply not being able to handle this kind of responsibility and just giving up. They put their proverbial foot down and proclaim that no matter the cost, mom needs to either pitch in or give it up and switch places, whether they out-earn their husbands or not. Can you imagine women doing this same thing? Well no, you can’t…because we can actually handle it.
I wish there were some magic potion that could be released to offer a solution to this, but unfortunately the only thing I have to toss into the ring is my own stubbornness. If you are one of the lucky ones that can afford to be the one earning less money, yet still earn enough to support the family and you love what you do, don’t give it up just because it makes sense. Sometimes making sense means keeping your sanity. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, hold tight. Not only will this craziness pass, but it opens up some real and authentic opportunities to have real and authentic conversations with our mates about priorities.
If you’re a woman that plays both roles of mom and dad and you’re somehow keeping it all together (or even not keeping it all together), you are the real superhero. You impress me by the minute.
We may all be dealing with all of this in many different ways, but always remember we are all in this together…and by “all” I mean women…of course.
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