Friday, March 10, 2006

Girls & Boys

I'm siiiiiiick. That's the thing about living with small children. Whatever they get, they graciously pass on to their big sister. I feel tired and gross, tired and gross! But I still have to babysit the other sickies. I just want to sleep :( I wish we had a maid or a nanny or something. Couldn't I rent one for the day?

I have been thinking a lot about gender roles because of a comment Mother made the other day. Mother, Sister and I were visiting Father, and we heard him tell the nurse how many daughters he has. The nurse then started talking to Mother about it, and Mother said, "Girls are nice. They stay close to home."

I started thinking about how different my life would be if I had been a son rather than a daughter. If Sister had been a brother. Would the two of us be sharing the responsibility of raising our little sisters if we were?

I remember when I was a high school senior, seventeen years old. Mother had given birth to the twins, and she, Father and I were trying to figure out what the child care situation would be. After all, both of my parents worked full-time, and I was going away to college. Mother said, "You could take a year off before going to school and take care of them," and then she laughed, dismissing it as if it were a joke. That could have been the end of it; I doubt my parents would have seriously asked me to do it since they knew how much I was looking forward to college. But I started to think about the dilemma they had, and the fact that I had started school a year early as a child anyway (so I had a year to kill without being behind age-wise), and I told them that I would do it. I wound up doing it for close to two years, off and on in between semesters at two different colleges.

I don't regret it. I think I gained a lot of life experience, and I love that I got to play such a big role in their early development. They are very close to me now. But I can't help but wonder... if I had been a son, would that have even crossed anyone's mind? Or is child care a distinctly feminine responsibility? Theoretically, a man can do it as much as a woman can, but I am not so sure that my parents would have thought, "Hey, let's ask our son to care for the kids full-time instead of going straight to college." Know what I mean?

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