Categories (a subset of these being “stereotypes”) shape our expectations. For instance, people assume professors are some baseline level of smart. So even though I do incredibly stupid things sometimes, I’m not seen as a total dummy.
I am a working mom. And that conjures up all sorts of images and expectations. But I realize that even as someone who has a marriage with an equitable division of labor policy (thanks cogsci-husband!) and a rather liberal view of modern womanhood — I compare myself to stay-at-home moms. Guess who comes out crappy in that comparison: ME! But even though I tag on the modifier “working” to the title of “mom,” I can’t quite give myself ENOUGH of a break. Somewhere deep inside of my liberal mind, I still hang onto the idea of “having it all.”
I lament that I really only cook about once a week (I actually just defrost something), my house is pretty filthy (except while we were potty training… then my floors were being cleaned 5 times a day), and I am really only good at taking care of one child at a time (“let’s go watch some youtube cogsci-children!”). I judge myself as a pretty terrible mom! I even consider myself a pretty terrible working mom. I realize that I give dads a pass from being awesome at childcare and housework because they work… but I only give moms a tiny fraction of grace for the same full time career.
So I’ve decided to re-categorize myself. I’m actually a female dad. And then when you think about it, I’m a pretty awesome dad! I cook once a week! I clean something sometimes! I am pretty good at taking care of one child at a time! BY MYSELF! Hey, I might be the BEST DAD EVER!
I love re-categorization.