Once I had a mad crush on Gordon Ramsey. It wasn’t his looks, but his attitude. I wanted Gordon Ramsey to follow me in my life, and help me respond stupid emails and stupid people. He has been discarded as my mentor. Now, it’s Maxine Waters after watching this video: Maxine Waters in Congress “Reclaiming My Time” should be a movement. There should be a “Reclaiming My Time Day” in which we live for ourselves. There should be “Reclaiming My Time” support groups, social media, t-shirts, and planners. If I were a millionaire, I would give all the women in my life “Reclaiming My Time” mugs to hold up in meetings and unproductive conversations.
As a woman with a very busy life, my time is precious. I try to put my limited time into actions I enjoy like sleeping, going to the gym, being with my family, shopping at Target, ordering from Amazon, and eating with friends. I do not like it wasted on waiting for people, unproductive meetings, or circular conversations. Often, in meetings, I wish I could Hulk out and pound time wasters. Me angry. Time wasters bad.
In the collective experiences of women, we allow our time to be taken from us. Women still do the majority of housework. We still handle most of the childcare. We navigate our family life with appointments to the doctor, running the kids to sports, hiring a housekeeper, unloading groceries, paying bills, and making sure everyone has clothes. It is exhausting. Often we succumb to the constant demands of motherhood and marriage by taking a lower paying but less stressful job or dropping out of the workforce all together, according to this article about the Lean-In movement: Lean in movement
I’ve had people ask me why I don’t get remarried. One of the reasons is that marriage with small children is like a business partnership. When I was married, we had the following discussions almost everyday: “Did you pay this bill?” “Where are my keys?” “Why don’t we have food?” When my kids were small, I was exhausted. All. The. Time. I didn’t want to have to take care of another person or raise more kids. I only have a finite amount of energy, and it was used up.
Last week, I was talking to a friend who was irritated and cranky cooking dinner for her family. She has older, independent children so I asked why she was cooking. She said she had to because it was the only way they would eat. If my friend had announced she wasn’t cooking and went to Starbucks, they would have managed. She would have been happier.
Society wears us down along with our family demands. Pinterest was created by Satan himself. I look at new mom instragrams and want to faint from anxiety. Now, the baby need monthly photos with a chalkboard in the background outlining their gains. Children need parties with decorations that only Martha Stewart could make. Summer parties need twinkle lights, mason jars, and a really good insta filter. It’s too much. Everything is an event now, and women are arranging it all.
Women are held to this impossible standard in which we need to have a bikini body three weeks after giving birth. We are suppose to juggle work needs, family needs, and our needs. Our needs always get dropped. So, why don’t we reclaim our time? It is the same reason that we don’t allow ourselves body agency by telling people to stop touching us. We are socialized to not make a fuss. We don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, including our families. We look at our mothers who were breaking barriers at work, and second shifting at home and think we should do the same.
I remember my mother crying at the dinner table because she always wanted a family dinner, and we destroyed it by being rude and mean. I remember her rushing us to church, making sure that we had on our happy faces. I remember her taking us to the doctor, and sitting in the office chair listening to him ramble and hit on her, wasting our time. I remember her coming to every class party. I remember her planting roses. I remember her yelling at Dad to paint the bathroom. I remember her calling repairmen and picking up our housekeeper. I remember her slowly growing smaller and smaller under the load of resentment she carried until one day she disappeared. She was no longer herself-she was a mom and a wife. It took her a long time to get herself back.
I remember my dad mowing the grass. I remember my dad watching football. I remember my dad washing our cars. I remember my dad scolding my mother for some fault that only he saw. I remember my dad slowly fading out of our lives until my mother had the burden of it all. I don’t remember my dad ever losing his identity.
Women need to reclaim their time. We need to push back. Things are slowly changing but they could be a lot better. One of my sons is on a sports team, and a stay at home dad won Best Team Mom. They are going to need rename it. He manages everything in his household while his wife works. He is also quick to tell me about his work experience like he is ashamed that he is home with the kids, like he is disappearing.
I have reclaimed my time. I rarely do anything out of obligation. I have become selfish for a lack of a better word. I refuse to volunteer at Vacation Bible School, I turn down invitations, I don’t decorate for the holidays, I don’t plan for the holidays, and I don’t make doctor appointments for my children anymore. I don’t clean because I have a housekeeper. I only do my laundry and towels.
I am important. I need down time. People pushed back. My family is not happy that I don’t visit during the holidays. My mother thinks I should cook more. My children would like me to manage their lives. They would love for me to do their laundry and fold it. Too bad. They can do it.
Women are important. Our time is precious. We all need to channel Maxine Waters at time-wasters, throw up our hands and state: “Reclaiming my time.”