A (Not So Bad) Realization

About a month ago, I got very anxious. As someone who never really worries too much or has a problem with anxiety, I had no clue how to calm down, so I eventually settled on organizing my room. Physically organizing something might help me mentally organize, right? So I washed the dishes. Then cleaned the sink. And the shower. The next thing I knew, I had cleaned every dirty surface in my room and was relieved at the fact. It was nice to discover a remedy for any future panic attacks, not to mention it was an effective way to clean my room. Unfortunately, I realized something else: I’m turning into my mom.

No, my mom doesn’t have constant panic attacks that require her to clean the house, nor do I think it’s a bad way of calming one’s self. It’s just that my family always gives her (and my aunt) a hard time because she’s, well, sort of a neat freak. (Note: I was planning on finding a nicer word, but after looking it up and stumbling across this, I knew I wasn’t the only one who thought that way.)

As a teenager, my worst fear was turning into my mom. Back then I saw her as annoying, overprotective, and embarrassing. Of course now I feel differently and actually appreciate some of her quirks. Still, it’s weird to think that I’m becoming more and more like her. I mean, I actually like to clean? I hated vacuuming and washing things when I was little. Hell, isn’t it anti-feminist to enjoy cleaning? It means that someday I’ll take care of the housework while my husband mows the lawn, right?

Actually, no.

Sure, I’m displaying signs of being socialized into my gender. Some of the things I like are feminine, the chores I do most often are usually done by women, and I want a husband and children someday. These traits have become ingrained in me and it’s hard to rewire my brain to think differently. However, as a self-identified feminist, I’m not going to conform to gender roles. In other words, I’m not going to continue doing these things because of what others tell me but rather because it’s my own choice. Yes, my mom does most of the inside chores while my dad takes care of the yard. This did not make her a housewife who believed in gendered chores. Even if that were true, it’s not wrong for a woman to become a housewife on her own terms. Hilary Rosen got in trouble recently for saying Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life. We can’t go around criticizing women for choosing to stay at home to raise their children. With what I’ve seen with my grandmothers, it does not mean they’re not feminists or that they think women should stay out of the workplace. We must encourage women to take risks and be active leaders, but we shouldn’t belittle them for choosing a path different from ours.

My mom likes to clean and played a role in why I turned out to be feminine. Though I grew up seeing my mom as the stereotypical mother (she knew how to heal stomach aches and she nagged), I have always seen these parts of her as more of just why she’s such a terrific woman (she’s an apt nurse who loves me and wants to take care of me). It’s strange to finally understand her perspective and appreciate how she raised me. Just because we’re now similar doesn’t mean I’m going to be exactly like her (besides, I’m too much like my dad in terms of being stubborn and prankish). What I do know is that the way she raised me isn’t going to negatively shape my future. I have my own choices and I will do whatever makes me happy, even if it involves cleaning.

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