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Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Pledge to End Unnecessary Public Praise

Last week I had the privilege of attending part of The Boston Chapter of Hadassah's Salon Series, highlighting the work of inspiring women here in Boston. Cheryl Weiner of Moving Traditions spoke about the goals of their initiative, "Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing," which I wanted to hear more about as Hannah is approaching the age of participation. I knew the program aimed to turn young girls into leaders, but was surprised at how the conversation over the course of the evening veered into many of my favorite "having it all" topics. There was a quiz on a variety of women's issues, which I excelled on if I do say so myself, and Cheryl opened the eyes of each woman in the room to the importance of equipping the next generation of women to be even stronger than we are now.

And yet there was one moment of the night that stood out to me, so much so that I interrupted to share my frustration on the topic right then and there. In the middle of discussing how she juggled home and family life, a woman stopped herself to declare what a huge help her husband is and how thankful she is for all that he does. And who doesn't agree with that? I know how grateful I am for all that Marc does for our family, and try to express my gratitude directly to him as often as I can. But I also know I've made similar declarations to others as I've described how I try to juggle work and family life, about how Marc cooks most of our meals or is responsible for any number of tasks that make our lives function. Men do enough housework to have even carefully ranked how much a variety of household tasks, well, suck.

But here's the thing: I don't want to make those declarations anymore. If it can be assumed that I'm pulling my weight at home in the housework category, it should also be assumed that my partner is doing it too, and doesn't deserve a special public shout out for it. No one is touting my laundry folding and birthday party planning skills anywhere, and the only people thanking me for it are my own family. If we want to be valued just as highly as men, we need to stop giving them a special pat on the back for doing what is simply expected from us.

So I'm happy to have this blog, as forevermore I can point people here when I want to publicly thank Marc for all he does. And the next time I find myself wanting to say "I couldn't do it without him" to a friend or acquaintance, I'll be sure to tell Marc directly instead. Who's with me?

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