When I am away on a business trip 2,000 miles from home, why is it my fault if my family runs out of milk?
It really isn't--but we are living in a time-lag between rhetoric and reality. My family is willing to call me Ms., as long as dinner is on the table or available in the freezer.
Public attitudes about the roles of men and women may have changed but private expectations have not.
Whether we call them "firemen," "firewomen" or "firefighters," when they put down their hoses and pick up their supermarket lists, we know almost instinctively what to expect: men will get only the things on the list while women will buy everything their families need.
There are things that women are expected to do well, like shopping, and things they are not expected to do well, like home maintenance. Even men who accept women as movers and shakers in the working world have a hard time accepting women as mowers and shovelers.
One husband I know feels embarrassed if his wife goes out to push the lawn mower or to shovel snow. He fears that his neighbors will wonder why he isn't doing his job.
Ingrained attitudes about men and women will take generations to change, even if Marlo Thomas keeps singing "Mommies are People" and children's books show daddies with aprons around their middles.
I keep hearing that the battle is over and the women won. But all I know is that when my husband leaves work to take a child to the dentist or comes home after work and cooks dinner, I say "Thank you."
When I leave work to take a child to the dentist or come home after work and cook dinner, my husband doesn't say anything except "Hello."
I keep praying to the patron saint of the working mother, Our Lady of Perpetual Exhaustion, that it won't be this way forever.
Ask yourself the following questions about life in your household and send me the answers. The results may tell us that the way we are is remarkably like the way we were. Or, that the revolution took place when I wasn't looking.[Check He or She or both boxes.]
He She 1. When you go out together, who drives? 2. Who fills out the income tax forms? 3. When you go to the movies, who buys the tickets? 4. When you're overdrawn at the bank, who calls? 5. When you have dinner at a friend's house, who helps clear the dishes? 6. Who will be called first when your child gets sick at school? 7. Who writes the "Thank you" notes for the gifts you receive as a couple? 8. Who is more likely to ask, "Where are my socks/stockings?" 9. When the car needs repair, who takes it to the garage? 10. Who does the laundry? 11. Who dusts and vacuums? 12. Who knows where to find the thermometer? 13. Who knows where to find the pipe wrench? 14. Who knows where to find the kids' summer clothes? 15. When you have guests for dinner, who makes the drinks? 16. When you have guests for dinner, who makes the coffee? 17. Who waters the house plants? 18. Who waters the lawn? 19. When you go on a trip, who packs the suitcases? 20. When you go on a trip, who packs the car? This response is from: a man, a woman. (Circle one.) Please clip and mail responses to Leslie Milk, The Maryland Weekly, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071