June 30, 2003

the value of domestic labor

Category: Alzheimers,Health — Biella @ 7:43 pm

Now I know why there are less women on the web, blogging, and doing other cool shit–> Domestic Labor. I am here in PR helping out my mom who is sick with a rare form of alzheimers called posterior cortical atrophy. We did not know what was wrong with my mom for a long time and it was a New Yorker article by Oliver Sacks who writes about strange and rare neurological conditions that made us realize what was going on with my mom.

PCA is a form of alzheihmers (so they think because really it seems like so little is known about it in the first place) in which your spatial coordination is basically short circuited. She can see functionally but she cannot act and behave as if she can see because her sense of space and spatiality is pretty much warped.

It means that I have to do a lot for her right now although she has developed little tricks to help her get by. She functions a lot through memory, knowing for example that all the forks are in the first drawer. She has to feel around a lot for things and is oriented a lot by color which she already tended to love. It is sad though as my mom was such a spatial visual person especially in the last twenty years when she turned to art during her own mid-life crisis. A real tragedy for someone who already has had a pretty tragic life.

As I care for her (and she is still functional enough to do a lot of things on her own but can’t do some basic things at times, like use a phone), and cook and do some of the cleaning in the house, it has really made me see how hard domestic labor is. It is especially harder when you are supposed to manage the lives of others, usually a mother having to manage a lot of details about the kids, and other things like keeping up the house which is a lot more than cleaning I am discovering.

Frankly, I am wiped from it all and also disturbed from this experience of parenting before being a parent. Domestic labor and parenting are forms of labor that are so under-valued and kept well hidden as significant yet the world would fall to pieces if it were not for it. Wall street could vanish and life would go on. Care giving in whatever form is essential.

It makes me mad to think of of all the women who labored at home and never got much recognition for it all the while money was usually kept in the hands (or at least managed) by the supposed bread winner. One can win bread only if the wife is at home baking the damn bread or at least buying it and doing a lot more.

Also, working mothers who have no hired help at home probably have it way worse. I think that though men more than ever are partaking in the domestic sphere, women, by default take up most of the domestic slack. They just get fed up with having to hound a partner about help or feel at some commonsense cultural level that that is their duty do do the bulk of the work so they end up doing more of the house work.

Doing serious “learning” and “creating” type work, whether it is writing, programming, networking, music, requires chunks of focused time. Domestic labor and duties really take away from that sort of time that is needed to really delve deep into something. I am feeling the brunt of it now, tired after a day of like a million small little errands and cooking. Even blogging feels hard. A lesson learned though, that is for sure.

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

XHTML ( You can use these tags):
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> .