My daughter needs a role model. I’m going to take a bath

It’s one of those in-between days. Midway between Christmas and New Year. One celebration ended, another yet to begin. So let’s take a break, take a breath.

Or take a bath. Which is what, for the first time in months, I was able to do the other day.

No, no, not the kind that my father used to joke about – “I take a bath once a month … whether I need one or not” (bad a boom).

No. This one was a mom bath. The kind a girl gets to take every month or so if she’s lucky – when the kids are out, all the pressing work has been done and the bathroom’s clean (and free). The kind you can lay back in, soak in, think in.

I was able to take this particular one a little later in the day after being called “lazy” by my 8-year-old daughter. Here’s the context:

At Christmas, my mother asked me “How come, every Christmas, your husband spends most of the day in the kitchen?”

My daughter looked up at me and said, when she read my blog a day later, “Because you’re lazy.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked her.

She quickly backtracked. “I don’t know. I didn’t mean it.”

Okay, being called lazy by my daughter stung. She didn’t get the joke behind the blog. And, it was true, her father had to do all of the chopping and lifting when we made Christmas dinner. That’s what she saw. But she didn’t see the work that I do. Or acknowledge the fact that I had a sprained wrist and had trouble doing the things he was doing.

Which makes me nervous for her. Why does she see mom as lazy when dad has to do kitchen stuff?

IRONY: At this moment I am sitting on the sofa, writing this blog. I start chatting with my husband about feminism and household chores. What’s he doing? Folding laundry. We laugh. But I digress.

Recently, we went to pick up a friend of hers for a play date – a little boy. I was driving and my husband was in the passenger seat. When the boy got in, he asked my daughter “Why is your mom driving?” He expressed surprise because, he told us, when his dad’s in the car, Dad is the one that drives.

Has she – and this young boy – already defined in their young minds what are “women’s” roles and what are “men’s” roles? Probably. I’m sure all kids do that. They look to us as role models, after all, to help them figure out what their own roles are.

In fact, a study done by Dove – and cited here by the B.C. Council of Families  – found that “moms were three times more influential than media at shaping the way girls feel about themselves.”

That study concerns itself with beauty and self-esteem – something we’ve worked hard at and it’s not something my daughter, thankfully, worries about.

The survey also indicated that 6 out of 10 girls in Canada cite their mom as their biggest role model – not pop stars or celebrities.

Which is great to know. But that still leaves the question of her negativity around the chores – calling me lazy when Dad’s doing a non-traditional task.

She won’t allow me to probe any further about what “lazy” means – at this age she’s more concerned that she’s offended me. These are big issues and not ones that she is yet ready to engage in conversation with. The time will come for that. And I’m glad we’re aware of it.

Enough. This being a role model thing is hard work. I think I’ll go take a bath. I hope she doesn’t think I’m being lazy.

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