dad

Mel

My dad always says that me and my sisters, for being women, we have to work harder to study so we can be better and no depend of a man. But, one day, when he returned from work and found out the house was not entirely clean he said “How is possible that the house is like this when four women lived here!”

L N.Ireland

I once thought that the strong older women in one part of my family, who’s above average height and shoe size I shared, were the head of a confident matriarchy and that one day I would step into their above average shoes. Now as a 27 year old woman, and having become my grandmother’s primary carer as her mental health declines and her forgetfulness becomes dangerous, I realise that this matriarchy is actually the product of my family’s misogyny. The women ‘take charge’ because the men won’t. I don’t want to sound like a martyr, I am happy that I am in a position where I can support and help my grandmother – I don’t want a f*cking medal, but a little acknowledgement would make a world of difference. But they see that it’s just my ‘place’ to do all these things, my granny had two sons; my mum and dad are divorced, as are my uncle and his wife, I am the next oldest female – so of course it is my place to step up. When I told my great aunt that I was struggling between work and organising my grandmother’s permanent care, fixing her house so it’s safe and attending all her medical appointments with her and that I hadn’t even heard from my dad in weeks she told me that “Men are just different” “They don’t see the things we do” – ie they don’t have to do the things we do. They can do as they please without consequence; They can waste time money and relationships They can be unreliable, un-trying, uninterested because ‘that’s just how he is’ Yet they’ll still be praised! “Your father!” I hear on a weekly basis, the ‘matriarch’s’ aging eyes welling up with pride at the man who barely sees her “he’s so good” ‘To whom?’ I feel like asking, because I’m the one looking out for and after everyone, working full time in a successful job, paying a mortgage, trying my bloody hardest – but then that’s my place isn’t it? That career is only a placeholder until I grant my husband children, something to busy myself with…. My dad came to my house to ‘have a talk’ with me the other night, I thought that maybe he realised what I am doing, that I need help or at least that he should acknowledge the effort. But he wanted to talk about my brother and how he wanted him to get a job (he’s never had to) and a girlfriend (“so he’s not frustrated”!!). He said “I’d love to be able to say that ‘yeah, my son’s a bricklayer’ or ‘aye he’s doing well, he’s a gardener’ you know?!” I did know, but I didn’t know what to say. I guarantee you my dad couldn’t tell you what company I work for (despite it being one of the Big 4) or what my job is (I’ve been here 4 years) or even what my degree is in. He isnt proud of me, or if he is he’s never told me. It doesn’t matter how successful I am, how hardworking, how thoughtful and kind. One thing this whole heartbreak has done for me is make me appreciate the one reliable, honest and caring man I do know – my husband, i’m very lucky