Photo Credit: Mirror Uk and Instagram
House Manager is a term that when I first heard it, I chuckled! I guess I didn’t quite understand it or think about how it applies to my own life. The literal idea of it is very accurate, at least when used about women. As I define it, house managers provide structure, routine and sanity to the home. We merely keep things running. We are the stability, and quiet enforces. Now every woman runs her home differently and bears different responsibilities. I can honestly say my house, depending on the day, will look different.
For the most part, women in society are the: caretakers, grocery shoppers, cooks, butt wipers, maids, doctor’s, home improvement DIY specialists and get shit doners….. Call it gender roles, call it the way things have always been, call it life but an invisible load or force is looming around us all the time.
With a two-year-old running about, I have to be flexible and open-minded. For years, my husband was an overnight truck driver. It was just the girls and me, leaving me to be security. Long story short, I learned how to shoot a gun in a pasture at my in-law’s house. When I sit and think about how women indeed are the house managers, it is genuinely something ingrained in our societies. Some will say, women, are not supposed to be the “head of the household,” but we do a lot of shit and bear a lot of the day to day responsibilities. This is emotional labor and its tough.
Think of your own home, I the mom, serve as the manager-think of a manager in the literal terms of the business world. Managers are tasked with delegating responsibilities, checking in with employees, and are held liable in the event things go south. Now replace employees with a husband or significant other and children, and you have a House Manager! For the most part, women in society are the: caretakers, grocery shoppers, cooks, butt wipers, maids, doctor’s, home improvement DIY specialists and get shit doners….. Call it gender roles, call it the way things have always been, call it life but an invisible load or force is looming around us all the time.
Of no fault, to men, because at least for me, my husband helps around the house. He washes the dishes, helps at bedtime and folds the laundry. But if I’m honest, the expectation to tell him what to help with still falls heavily on me. Society has played this funny little game with girls and boys since birth. Boys get trucks, sports equipment, and G.I Joes. Girls get dolls, vacuum cleaners and play kitchens sets. We grow up seeing our mothers cook the food, set the table, clear the table all the while telling us (daughters usually) that we need to help. Our dads were most likely on the couch watching T.V or just coming home from work, so they had no parts in the management aspect of dinner and getting the house settled down for the night.
Now, what would happen if the manager quit or in this case took a day off, maybe mom is sick? The house might suffer. I remember when my dad was tasked with feeding my older sister and I. I can’t fully recall what my mom was doing that night or why she entrusted him to feed us, but we ended up eating gas station cheeseburgers. I still can taste the plastic metallic, stale taste of the cheese. I do not recall my dad ever feeding us again. We straight up told on him!
My husband sometimes gets annoyed when asked to help with household chores. The task could range from assisting with cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming our downstairs. At first, we would argue with how he didn’t appreciate the work I put into the house or that he wasn’t cognizant of my feelings. Now I’ll be honest, to date, depending on the requested task and his response, I still get annoyed! When I think about the root of my frustration, it comes down to bearing the emotional labor of household duties on top of all the other things I am tasked with, it is frustrating. Let’s go back to that list of task women typically perform. Imagine the day when you pick up your kids from daycare, stop at the grocery store because you forgot an ingredient for dinner, cook dinner, stop to change a diaper, and yes, you’re multitasking, so you’re washing a quick load of clothes. Oh, and you took your kid to the doctor on your lunch break! So when I come home and ask my husband to clean the kitchen because I am over this Thursday, the response hopefully is an, of course, dear! An answer not returned with a look of expectation that all of those things were “my job” and shared responsibility is absurd.
We are not nags because we ask for help and then get frustrated when it is slow or nonexistent in its delivery.
In a moment of clarity and quiet meditation, I reflect on how millions of women carry the same title of house manager and bear the invisible and looming weight of emotional labor, so with this, it gets a little better. I realized it’s not my husband that is relying a bit too much on society gender roles, in some ways, it’s the card I pulled. If the rules could be re-worked, I would want women to not have to be automatic house managers and equality to be the norm. We are not nags because we ask for help and then get frustrated when it is slow or nonexistent in its delivery. I merely hope for a time when men can appreciate the fact that women genuinely do manage our homes. Appreciate tasks are completed with more equality, and domestic responsibility is not automatically presumed to be “women’s work.”
All in all, because I have been given this load to bear, I will continue to strive to be the best house manager my family need and deserve. Will I still get frustrated? Probably. But I don’t see my husband doing all the things that I do anytime soon! I’m 100% my kids will NOT be eating gas station cheeseburgers… So it is what it is.
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Kendria Johnson, Wife & Mom
Lover of getting things done