March 16, 2019

double standard living (with 5 star photos!)

I never intended to be 'that' mom.  The one that raised my kids by following the all-infuriating double standard.

I grew up the youngest of 3 sisters, followed very closely by 2 younger brothers.  I don't think my sisters were as impacted by the double standard lifestyle that my parents practiced as much as I was.  My sisters were programmed to 'do it all', because they were 'older.'

I admit that I often stepped back and allowed my sisters to handle tasks that I was perfectly capable of.  They didn't want me to wear something wrinkled to church, so they made me de-robe so that they could iron it.  Wink, wink.  Yep, I was that lazy, younger sister, who knew if I didn't - they would.

Marie, 2 years older than me, was an early riser.  She embraced that role.  Yuck.  You wouldn't catch me out of bed before my alarm for anything unless it was mandated.  As a result, Marie made our lunches starting in junior high.  She probably unloaded the dishwasher each morning too, I was sound asleep so I don't recall.

Me @1986. Not sure why
I didn't date in high school?
 'Jammers' were in, but these
were cheap knock
off Hawaiian
shorts.  Shockingly
there are no
photos of my unloading
 the dishwasher.
Ann, who was 2 years older than Marie, liked order.  Anytime my folks left the house, she made us clean up.  My folks' house was almost always in perfect order, but heaven forbid someone left a book in the family room or someone had pulled out a pile of coloring books.  Ann made us put them all away.  If there was a cardigan, a stuffed animal, or other miscellaneous item left on the first floor that technically belonged upstairs, then she ordered us to assume the position:  the stairway.  We had to line up on the stairs in age order.  The person at the bottom would hand up the items that needed to be put away in our bedrooms.  Our human chain handed the items up -and the person at the top of the stairs would place the items outside the bedroom doors.  Shazam - just like that, order was restored.

Ann is the same sister that stopped by my house when my kids were really little and 'tsk, tsk-ed' at me for leaving my baking sheets in the sink vs having them scrubbed and put away, and for having smudges on my refrigerator.  She was very pleased with herself when she taught Mini how to get out the 'squirt' aka Windex, and spray the fridge and wipe it down with a paper towel.  Mini was about 4 years old.

Why would Pat and I be fighting for car
 privileges if we drove this '76 Chevy Impala
station wagon?  Well, that's all there was.
 This is the photo of the fake funeral
 my mom and I held for 'ole Betsy in '91.
 It was days after my sister's wedding. 
We put the flowers on the roof of the car
 and I wore my black dress and posed for photos
feigning emotional distress.  You can see the guy
 there hooking up the car to tow it away.
  I am sure he thought we were nuts.
By the time I was a sophomore in high school, both sisters were away at college.  I was left to do all the things they enjoyed doing as mother's helpers.  My brothers were expected to do nothing.  Literally.  They didn't load or unload the dishwasher.  They didn't know the washing machine from the dryer.  They sure as Hell never ironed one of dad's shirts.

They were close to my age and I saw the tasks at hand more as age appropriate vs. gender specific.

Well, here I am in high school with my friend
who reminded me of Prairie Dawn
 from Sesame Street.  My nickname 'Ernie'
was also somewhat related to Sesame, so we made
 this sign and snapped a photo - you can
see the straw to my milk carton behind
 the sign.  I wonder if I was
still financing my own milk?
There were other issues.  Pat, the first born son, was given car privileges before me.  For real.  I was older, but he was favored, more trusted.  If he wanted the car, particularly because he wanted to take a girl on a date, he got the keys ahead of me.  I did not dating in high school, and that was frowned upon.  Mom was the eternal Irish match maker mom.  Her heart skipped a beat when her son was dating a girl.  It was nauseating.

My sisters and I bought our own milk at the cafeteria in high school.  The minute Pat - followed the next year by Mike, started attending high school, our folks started to give them milk money.  They were 'boys' after all.  They were athletes.  They needed their milk - and one carton was never enough for them.  They also didn't work during the school year, because of sports.  I guess the girls were expected to have milk money on hand, because we held down jobs during the school year.  All three of us babysat in addition to working fast food or grocery store jobs.

Is your blood boiling yet?


Kari said...


Also, I had "jams" too.
Ah, the 80s.

Ernie said...

Ha! I know, right? The ironic thing is my fam holds themselves up as being the gold standard of close-knit and wonderful. Barf. I tend to see things pretty clearly and the way my folks coddled my brothers (and worshiped them) was maddening. Hard to get past that. And my sisters were encouraged to be exclusively close with one another, and so NO we are not tight now. They have each other - and they deserve one another. Um, the best thing about that pic with the jams is that my hair was permed. Um, I have naturally curly hair, but no one every took me by the hand and introduced me to products, so I didn't know. I got a perm at 'Mainstreet' which is what they used to call Kohls before it was Kohls. I swear that was a form of child abuse. Who takes their kid to fricking Mainstreet for a perm. It was hideous. My hair was short, so they used the grandma rods on me. WHAT??!!! Criminal.

Cheryl said...

I guess I was pretty lucky in that my parents had all seven of us do everything that was needed to be done around the house...regardless of gender. My Dad would say..."Don't let me walk in this house and see one of you kids standing around while your Mother is working!". "If she is vacuuming, you take the vacuum out of her hand, if she is sorting laundry, you take over, etc.". He was a Marine in WW II...can you tell? lol. All 4 of my brothers know how to iron, cook, clean, do laundry, etc. The girls all know how to mow a lawn, snow blow, weed wack, etc. Plus, we all babysat other people's kids, delivered papers, did lawn work for money, etc. Once we turned 14 we got our working papers and we worked. If sports were being played during the school year, we got a short reprieve. Once the sport was over, it was back to the gas station or restaurant or grocery store...wherever we had a job. Man...times have

Wendy said...

Ah yes, this is familiar to me. The one that burned the most was my folks telling me (the oldest) that they couldn't afford to pay for college for me. I went right to work after HS instead. Three years later, there they were, paying for my brother to go to college. *sigh*

Ernie said...

That is quite different from the way I was raised. We did all have jobs, but the athletes only worked in the summer as caddies. They raked in a ton during the summer months, so that was tolerated. I have trouble with the way high school sports operate now. Kids playing football (puke) are expected to be at camp daily. When my oldest played football, I called the school to say I knew my kid was not doing to play in the NFL, so he would need to work. I ended up taking him to the golf course to caddy the minute football was over.

Ernie said...

Well, that just totally bites! I would really struggle with that one. My father in law offered to pay for Coach's graduate school. Told Coach he was not in the position to do that for his older sisters. Then Coach proposed to me, and his folks were ticked - so they opted to NOT pay for his grad school. (totally different than your family situation, but it was crappy). Did your brother feel bad about it?

Beth (A Moms Life) said...

Sounds like quite the double standard to me! And weren't the 80s just the best AND The worst all wrapped into one??

Ernie said...

Yes- quite. And it all seemed so normal at the time. I had a white long t-shirt with neon letters that read 'to dance is to live'. My mom got it for me becaymuse I was an Irish dancer. I was a far cry from a hip dancer as the shirt implied. Hee hee.

Wendy said...

Honestly, I'm not even sure my brother realized that's how it went down, ha! But I totally get why it was shitty that Coach's folks withheld the grad school offer because you guys were getting married -- geez!