Written by Jennifer Neer
If you think about it, you have to push a mom pretty far for her to do something so drastic as to walk off the job. Well this is exactly what happened in the Neer household when this mom went on strike.
Parenthood is challenging. We are teaching our boys to be good, kind humans and they are. But lately it seems that on any given day in our household I was reminding, asking, demanding, and worst of all bargaining for them to do their part and be responsible. And though I love the man, my hubby was just as generous at sharing how much he disliked chores and projects that needed to get done around the house.
I know that there are a lot of moms who can relate, but what you really want to know is what made me actually do it? What happened in the Neer household that made this mama rise up and say no more? It all boiled down to the events of one weekend in August...
One son gave an award winning performance when moaning and groaning about how unfair it was that he had to mow the lawn and my hubby rivaled for the trophy when he was reminded of other yard work that needed to get done. A day later, after finishing a lunch I made for everyone, my youngest explained that he didn’t need to put his plate in the sink because mom was the maid. The other two Neer boys laughed.
I sat out on the back porch and gave some serious thought. The majority of the housework is my responsibility and I’m okay with that, but my five year old just referred to me as the maid and I’m pretty sure he was serious. I needed to do something rash. Something that would really get their attention and help make a permanent change.
I would strike.
Surprisingly the Neer boys didn’t really have a reaction when I told them; they seemed okay with it. As they walked away to make dinner, I was wondering if I made a mistake. Was this going to help or just drive me crazy?
The first sign they weren’t excited about the strike was the incredible compliments I started getting in addition to them suddenly using manners ALL THE TIME. I began to realize they didn’t understand the commitment I had, because they thought I was weak and could be bribed. Little did they know.
I would no longer be doing the following:
The end of Day Two was really going in such a good direction when one of the Neer boys came home with groceries and the other two were doing chores, but I must say it was a short-lived moment of appreciation for me. During the evening and over the next two days I asked how they felt about Mom Strike 2017 and the responses were varied, yet all had a similar theme.
"Why did you have to go on strike? You just want to see us suffer."
"This sucks because now we have to do your job."
"You do chores better because moms were born to cook and clean."
"The strike sucks because you don't even help us do your job."
On Day Four...the clothes that were put in the washer on Day Two were still there and no one had really noticed. We were out of dish soap so use your imagination on how the sink looked. There were a lot of sticky surfaces and someone ran out of shorts to wear. I was starting to get asked where personal items were because no one had put anything away. You had to be very cautious when you walked in the backyard unless you planned to spend the next 15 minutes cleaning the bottom of your shoe. We had eaten basic lunch items for every meal but at least bellies were full. I was still unsure what kind of supplies they would be bringing to school and if they'd show up in clean clothes.
A week went by and the Hubby began to realize he needed to get school supplies for both boys. I tagged along and watched him get frustrated over searching endlessly for the right brand or having to go more than one store to get everything. Then home we went where he saw all the baskets of laundry piling up. I took his role and put on a movie while he ironed and I said "I’m keeping you company because you do it so much better than I do."
On Sunday night, one week after the strike began, the hubby made dinner just for the two of us, and we negotiated future terms. He felt it might be better to negotiate separately because he had a different role than the kids and although they were together on this, inevitably one of the little guys would blow it. I concurred.
On Monday, the boys and I had a separate negotiation that was less in depth and more goal oriented. It seems that since school was starting the next day they were even more motivated and I’m not sure either of them had clean socks to wear. I’m happy to say that we were able to come to an agreement that would work for everyone.
After one week of #momsonstrike, I can honestly say it was totally worth it and each of us learned a little. I learned that a job well done does not mean it has to be done my way. I think the hubby learned how important it is that he set the example and show the boys that although it is our choice for me to be at home, it doesn’t mean that everything is solely my responsibility. Over the week, the boys started to see things weren’t ‘magically’ done when they woke up in the morning and appreciation started to replace expectation. All of the Neer boys learned that we are a team and we need to help and support each other daily, even if that means picking up a toy on the stairs even if you didn’t leave it there. So far, everyone is doing pretty good and I’m able to relax a little!
To be honest, the strike was a little bigger than making sure someone picked up the dog poop or folded laundry. When I grew up there were so many stay-at-home moms and now you are more likely to have two working parents in the household. It is changing how women are addressed in today’s society, good and bad. For instance, my hubby and I notice that when I tell people I stay home they begin to direct the conversation to others and stop asking me questions unless it relates to my kids. They have no idea nor do they ask about my small home-based business or the career I had prior to staying at home. However, if I do bring it up, suddenly their attitude towards me changes. Moments like this are why I strike or have conversations about family roles and responsibilities. In our home, the boys will learn that women and mothers are all amazing in every role they have and their value is not determined upon their decision to stay-at-home or work outside the home nor does it have anything to do with being a girl.
Share your stories in the comments below about what you want to strike about.