8th of March, International Women’s Day. Around 8.30 am, I am strapping two reluctant kids into the car for the daily, exhausting, school run when something makes us have a surprising conversation. We cross our next-door neighbor, en route for work, power dressed and sort of stressed. Orange-haired by some incompetent colorist who probably took her seriously when she asked to go straight from a dark brown to a sun-kissed californian blonde, she is pregnant with her second child and I don’t like her. She has the lack of social skills a good number of career focused persons (men and women alike, but I always found it worse in women) show these times, her house smells of trash and her kitchen floor is full of empty glass bottles she apparently can’t dispose of. These few lines to give you a honest though maybe slightly biased description of the facts.
So, we cross the orange-haired career gal and my 4 years old asks: “where is she going so early in the morning?”
“Well, I guess she is going to work”
“To work? Where??”
“In her office”
“A office? Like a dad? That can’t be”
“Yes, of course, an office. Like a dad. Why are you surprised?”
“Because only dads go to work. Mothers have just a laptop at home. They don’t go out”
“Well, she does have a real dad’s job in a office with other people there. And many mothers do as well”
“Do you have an office?”
“Because I quit my job when i had you and never really got in the business again and so I’m stuck at home drinking way too many caffelattes and writing.
“Because I want to spend my afternoons with you and be there after school”
“Really? I thought mothers couldn’t have real jobs”.
That means at least a couple of things:
I am raising my boys as if they were born in the 50s
Belgian society is actually still in the 50s, where most of the mothers don’t work while their children are in pre-school and sometimes resume a career in their mid-40s to escape the empty nest syndrome.
My feminist side was in some shock after yesterday’s school run. And what an irony, to discover two more male chauvinists in the house (beside their working-a-real-job-in-a-real-office dad) on Women’s Day.