I absolutely love to hear stories from other moms or families about the daily crap we all struggle with. It not only makes me feel more normal, but I know it helps other moms out, too. I have a dear friend, who’s actually the husband in this relationship, and he shared the following story with me. I think it will resonate with all moms who attempt to juggle both work and home. (We may not relate to what’s it like to have the kind of husband as described in the story, but I dig new words and this one’s epic.) To protect their privacy, we’ll call our new friends Sarah and Frank.
Frank happened to have a day off from work in the middle of week. He decided to keep their little one home with him for the day. Being an awesome guy (and he truly is), he thought it would be helpful and appreciated if he took care of some of the typical things around the house, including laundry and running errands. He also planned an exquisite meal to serve up to Sarah when she returned home from her long day at work. He even made their little guy his own special version of the meal. Now, certainly he was thinking his wife would come home and express her appreciation openly, honestly and let’s be real, he was hoping, sexually. Needless to say, he didn’t get the warm, fuzzy reception he was expecting.
Sarah walked in and upon seeing her man in her domain outshining her in her role, immediately dropped her purse and bags right on the floor and said, “Are you f’ing serious right now?? Don’t femasculate me!”
After he got over the initial shock of her reaction, he smiled and said, “Did you just make up that word? What the hell does that even mean?” Frank and Sarah continued to discuss how the entire situation made her feel like in that moment, he was more successful in her role than she and while the intention was pure, coming home to such an elaborate display of his efforts, only served to remind her how much she sucks.
Let’s take this story out of their specific context and apply it to us. For one, I think it’s funny as hell. Now, there might be some of you thinking, “Really, Sarah?!? If my husband did that for me, I’d drop my panties right on the spot.” But if you really think about what Sarah was experiencing, it’s exactly what we all feel at times. It’s impossible to work full-time and be an apron-sporting, lipstick wearing, peaceful, calm mother and wife who doesn’t even use a crockpot because all her meals are freshly prepared on the spot.
What Sarah was feeling was standard issue “mom-guilt”. We all have experienced it and truthfully, it’s no damn wonder. I’ve often questioned if being a mother would have been easier in the 50s when our roles were more clearly defined. Today the “turf” of the home should longer belong solely to the mom as she’s out making a living, too. The worst part about this role confusion and turf sharing is that moms continuously feel guilty when we take shortcuts to make our lives easier on the home-front, whether it’s hiring someone to clean your house, serving your kids fast food, or heaven forbid, buying a cake for your kid’s birthday rather than making it yourself.
Now, Sarah and Frank have a super marriage and they still laugh over this. As do I. She created a word that encompasses those feelings and most importantly, expressed exactly what she was feeling. I believe that kind of candid communication is the key to maneuvering this new era where we’re supposedly ‘partners’ in all aspects of life and yet, bucking the traditional roles doesn’t always feel right either.
Today, if you’re feeling femasculated, whether due to your husband’s actions or just the entire load of crap you have to deal with today, just remember, it’s not the 50s anymore. You rock and so do crockpots. As do Hot Pockets for breakfast on occasion, suckers for bribes of good behavior and 11-year old neighbor kids you hire to mow your lawn. If the shortcuts you take from time to time make your role easier, embrace those choices and stop with the guilt already.