When I was a toddler, I knew that Mommies went to work and Daddies went to school. Mom was working to help put dad through law school at the time, and as far as I knew, that was how the world was.
When we get older, we realize that there are lots of ways for the world to be, but – realize it or not – the way we grew up is still our baseline ‘normal’ (no matter how abnormal it is). It’s natural! We compare things to the standard we know best, and sometimes have to be reminded that our standard is very far from standard.
I think that’s why I enjoy reading random posts about how people grew up, like @pacificnorthwestdoodles wrote last night about her childhood house. It’s that reminder that they’re all very unique and my ‘normal’ is anything but.
It kind of makes me want to do a long rambly post about apartments and houses growing up, but that has to be another day. Today is full.
Random thoughts, spurred by this…
One of the quirks of the way I grew up (both parents worked, my mum’s a nurse though, so was out at odd times) was that I always thought both parents cooked (in all homes). My mum cooked sometimes and my dad cooked. It wasn’t until fairly recently that my mum pointed out that yes, my dad did cook – but mostly he rewarmed stuff she’d prepared as a big meal and frozen in portions. But I still find it freaky when we go to friends’ homes for dinner and only one of them cooks. ‘cos even though he didn’t really cook as much as I think, he still used to help.
But then my dad was not reasonably forward thinking for the time. The only household job he had any resistance to was ironing – which was mainly I think because he didn’t like it. Otherwise him and my mother tried to share household tasks fairly equally. And he was very big on getting my sister into maths and science, as was my mum who went spectacularly (and famously) off the deep end when a primary school teacher dared to tell my sister that Lego was for boys.
And when I was running through slides with my mum, there are great photos of her at the top of a ladder with a big tin of creosote treating the timber cladding that made up the wall of our house.
My parents really DID both cook, though mom has always been much more adventurous about it (dad generally finds the things he likes and sticks with ‘em).
Dad even sewed – once. Because he was a student when I was very small, he sporadically had more time than my full-time-employed mom, so it fell to him to handle my Halloween costume. I was a clown, with a ruff and a full baggy clown jumpsuit sewn out of an old brightly patterned bedsheet. But dad had never really sewn before, and he didn’t know how to work the machine, so the entire thing was done in zig-zag stitch. :P
When I was older – 6 or 7 through about 14 – my mom chose to stay at home, so our household was more traditional, at least on the face of it. And really, my parents’ skills do break down on pretty traditional lines – but I was encouraged to play in the shop AND the kitchen, and they both made it very clear that skillz was skillz no matter the gender, and everyone should be able to cook.
Aye, my parents skills were pretty much down traditional gender lines, but it always felt more like it was a historical and personal interest thing, rather than a gender related thing. At least to me…
And everyone should be able to cook. :)