We just got home from watching my oldest son’s first basketball playoff game. And although the team of 11- and 12-year-olds only had one win this entire season, they come home tonight victors. The final score was 34-20.
Watching any of the boys’ games—whether it’s basketball, soccer, and especially baseball—is excruciating. The suspense is almost unbearable for me. If I could hold my hands over my face and peek through my fingers without looking like a complete embarrassment, I would. Instead, I hold my breath and cringe and wait for the game to end.
My husband, who coaches the team, has been busy this week preparing. One of the last things I happened to glance on his computer screen last night before falling asleep was a list of plays he was reviewing.
I have a good husband. And my boys have a good dad.
I‘ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a feminist. Maybe it’s because of the current political and social climate. Maybe it’s because it’s Women’s History Month. Maybe it’s because I just finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book on how to raise a feminist daughter. A few days ago, I even wrote an open letter to the daughter I never had, and it in, I resolved to raise feminist sons.
As the boys grow older, I’ve become increasingly aware of the how sexism creeps its way into their lives. So I go out of my way to make sure that their pop culture knowledge includes as many Gilmore Girls references as it does superheroes, that the books they read aren’t easily classified as “boy” books or “girl” books. When I heard them complain a little more than necessary about a female character on one of their favorite television shows, we had a conversation about it, questioning why the character might be written that way. And when I once heard one of them call the other a “girl” (and giggling about it), you can bet we had a conversation about that, too.
But if my sons become the feminists they’re on their way to becoming, it won’t only be because of me. In fact, I think the person they’ll really have to thank is their dad.
My husband may coach their basketball and baseball teams, but he’s also the one who does most of their laundry, packs their lunches, and gets them ready and off to school each morning. He doesn’t cook much—but then again, neither do I. While I might help the boys with their big projects—I’ve become an expert on those science fair trifolds and 100-day t-shirts—it’s their dad who’s usually there for the day-to-day, checking homework folders and signing papers. All the traditional “male” and “female” domains of domestic life don’t really hold up in our house.
Sometimes people ask me, How do you do it all? It’s a question for “supermoms”—how do I do all the things I have to do for work and somehow raise three boys at home? I think it’s a question that’ s supposed to be a compliment. But I can’t help but wince a little. Because as well-meaning as that question might be, I wonder how many people ask my husband the same thing?
This post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers, who have created a space for writers and teachers of writers to come together. To learn more about this challenge, click here.