We were hustling, the other day, in an effort to make it to ballet on time. I hurried her into her leotard and hurried her hair back into a ponytail. I hurried her sweater on and hurried her into her boots. I hurried, barely registering the fact that, all the while, she had been talking to me.
As I hurried her into her car seat and leaned over to strap her in, she looked me in the eyes and said, "Right, Mommy?"
In an instant I was brought to the present.
"Say it again, baby. I'm ready to listen now."
As I buckled my own seat belt and started the car, she began again.
"So, when I'm a grown-up mommy I'm going to be a veterinarian. I'm going to take care of ALL of the animals. The pets and the animals from the farm and the animals from the zoo and the wild animals, too. Right, Mommy?"
"I think you will!" I answered. "I know how much you love all kinds of animals and I think you would do a really good job taking care of all of them."
As she started listing random and assorted animals she'd like to take care of, I laughed. "Wow, Molly, you're going to be a very busy veterinarian!"
"I'm going to be a mommy, too, and have all of my kids."
"Oh, my goodness! You'll be a busy mommy, for sure! You'll take care of animals all day while you're at work and then come home and take care of your family, too!"
A bit distracted by the traffic, I continued on...babbling, really, just saying words: "You'll take care of your babies and do the cooking and the cleaning and the laundry and the shopping...A busy, busy mommy."
I'm not sure why I said it. Though Sam and I fill pretty traditional gender roles in our household, it's not by design. I do most of the cooking and the cleaning because I'm home (by choice), not because I'm the Mom. Sam is the one to get up with the kids and make their breakfasts. He packs their lunches for school and does about half of the laundry. Just as often as I do, he will clean a bathroom or vacuum the family room when it needs to be done on a weekend. He braids Molly's hair and gets her in her leotard and tutu for ballet about as frequently as I do, too.
So why did that Traditional Gender Role narrative come out of my mouth as my daughter told me about her dreams to be a working mom? Because it's tradition, that's why. But traditions can change. And it's often the younger generations that do the changing.
I didn't even realize the Everyday Sexism in my statement at first. It was quiet for a minute, as we pulled into a parking space in front of her ballet studio.
"Mommy? When I'm a veterinarian and a mommy, the guy I marry will do all the cleaning and the cooking. I don't like to do that stuff. I just like to take care of my animals and my babies."
My four-year-old feminist.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: A kids'-eye view of the world is so often the right way to look at things.