Ever since I was little, I remember always being told that I needed to learn how to cook, clean, wash, take care of a home, etc., so that I could grow up to find a good husband. I was also told that I needed to study and go to University so that I could learn how to take care of myself and be independent. “A woman must be a good housewife and good professional”. Contradicting messages for sure, but what most bothered me even at a very young age of 7 or 8 years, was the fact that I needed to do more, be more, than boys my age for me to have a good life. I would be expected to keep a good home, cook, take care of the children and so on, while also working 8 to 5. If not, how could I ever find a good husband?
Well, I rebelled against this mentality from day 1. I focused on reading and doing the things I loved rather than learn how to cook or clean. I even said out loud that if I needed to be a housewife material to get a husband, then I didn’t want nor need a husband. Of course, extreme points of view are not correct, but my young mind was not accepting that because I am a woman, I needed to conform to a reality that didn’t make sense to me and frankly seemed outdated and unfair.
My focus in life was then to do good in school, get a degree and become independent. I focused on me as a person and not the stereotypical woman in Latin-America. In my journey, I met a man who not only loved this about me but encouraged me to be the best version of myself. He didn’t care that I couldn’t cook or clean (he knew how to do these things); he only cared for the person that I am. Contrary to my youthful statement that I would never marry, I went off and married… I married someone that sees me as an equal. Someone who doesn’t “help with the dishes” – we take turns (while one washes, the other cooks) or “help with our son” – we are both active parents, partnering in all aspects of life. Eventually, I learned all of the ropes for taking care of a home, because I live in an environment of equality and respect because I was inspired to balance my work and personal life. Not because I had to, simply because I am a woman.
Now we teach our son that to be independent he needs this balance. He is learning to take care of a home at the same time that he is being educated. He is learning that women are not the only ones responsible for the home, that it’s a shared responsibility.
I am sharing my story for International Women’s Day with you, hopefully, to inspire and shine a light on the value of how we are raising our children. Little girls can dream big and be whatever they put their minds to, the same as little boys. Encourage their dreams and potential. Empower, support and guide them in life, to be the best version of themselves.
Laura Brachtl, Leadership Development Manager, Sitel Denmark