questions for equality

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: book. My second entry for the prompt today.

Skimming the reader’s guide at the back of a book today, I read one question and halt. Here:

“You’ve managed such an extraordinarily successful writing career along with being a full-time father. What has it been like to juggle the two?”

Yes, what has it been like? Because I changed the gender. I can’t imagine this question being posted to a male author. The layers and the sexism in this question are spectacular.

First of all, what is a full-time mother? Does it mean one who is “home” with the kids? Not working “outside” the house. Maybe we should call it at work with the kids if it’s full-time. If she is a writer is that work but it’s not work if she is a housewife? Is she a “full-time” mother with a writing hobby unless it’s successful and then she’s a “full-time” mother with a successful career? How are they defining success?

What is a full-time father? Does it mean the same thing?

Are there part-time mothers? Is a mother who goes to work outside the house a part-time mother? I work. My husband was the househusband. We also had some daycare. Was he a full-time father? Was he a slacker because he took care of the house and the kids and played golf? Our son was six months old when I started my family practice residency. Was I a part-time mother?

The question feels to me like more of the same gender discrimination and devaluation of both genders. A woman who is a “full-time” mother AND a successful writer, wow, that is made noble. But I have never heard a man called a “full-time” father or any questions of a successful man about how he juggled his fatherhood and his career.

It remains infuriating.

The book is Anna Quindlan’s every last one, Random House, 2011 and the Random House Reader’s Circle asks the questions.

Well, gentle readers? Are you a full-time or a part-time parent? Why? Was your father a full or a part time father and was your mother full or part time? And do they mean the same thing?



kitchen window with cat

In the early morning before dawn
the orchids keep me company
cat and computer as I sit and write

I tried a desk but the sky doesn’t lighten
windows on three sides, the orchids and I
await the sun, cat now on my lap

this table was my grandmother’s
my mother loved flowers
my daughter says “The laptop’s in the way.”

Thank you orchids, cat and table
Thank you laptop, teacup, dawn
Thank you grandmother, mother, daughter

kitchen window blessing


kitchen window

My mother had plants all over a shelf running the length of their kitchen. She did a pen and ink drawing of the riot of flowers and pots and leaves. She then did a second one but this time the snapdragons were dragons and there were elves and fairies and monsters in all the plants.

My orchid is blooming riotously right now, with abandon, to the point where the pot barely stays upright. I love orchids, how long the blooms last, and how they would rather not be watered too much, and a flower that perches up on tree branches in jungles: how delightful and romantic is that? This one is in my kitchen window and makes me think of my mother.

cottage

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: cottage.

My family has cabins on Lake Matinenda in Ontario, currently in a trust and jointly owned.

In 2012 my sister died in March. In August my daughter and I went to the lake. No one could bear to stay in the cabin that she had used the most the last few years. My daughter and I spent a day facing the mice and clearing. The mice had made nests in anything they could use.

Mouse nest in an ankle brace.
In Chris’s cabin


Empties.
Recycling.


Shoe nest.
Fabric with potential mouse nests. We had to go through the containers.

My daughter helped me and bless her. I was still feeling paralyzed with grief. We garbaged bagged the mouse nests, went through all the fabric, loaded the trash, recycling and empties into the boat and took them to the dump and to town. Then we bought half a dozen plastic containers and put every fabric thing and shoe that didn’t have a mouse nest into containers.

I went back this summer and a friend and I worked on the roof. The books and the glass containers are sad now, not doing well as no one has used that cabin since 2010. I didn’t think to box up the books, except for the log that my mother started.

Books and canned and bottled supplies.

This summer my daughter and I took four large containers in the boat and then by car to the laundromat. We washed everything and donated most of it to a local second hand shop. I put a wool blanket back in a container and moved some of the dishes my mother made in another container to a cabin that is in better shape.

Our cottages are full of memories.

painted sky

I took this on Friday morning. The sky was so glorious and changing, a water color in transition. My mother painted watercolors and when I see a sky like this, I wonder if she is up there with a brush. Sending love in this season for everyone who is missing someone.

all sounds become music

I am in RainShadow Chorale. My father was one of the people who started it in 1997.  I moved to Port Townsend in 2000, because my mother had cancer. She died in May of 2000. My father died in 2013. I had the joy of singing with him in this group for 13 years.

Our concert is weekend after next and I really love this one. We are doing a wild mix of pieces and moods with the theme from a Walt Whitman poem. In this time of so many people being afraid and angry and stirred up, going to chorus is healing. All of these people, unpaid, coming together to create these two concerts of beauty and unity and joy. A gift to each other and a gift to the community.

Ticket information on the website.