Friday, October 24, 2008

Soapbox II

(part of an ongoing conversation with Myself)

See that's the thing. Either you do one thing really well, or two things badly. But why have we set up our systems like that? We have set ourselves up to fail.

By trying to fit into society's construct of women/men role alignment, we position ourselves poorly. The way the work week is structured, the way we work, work itself and what we value and don't, are all very paternalistic (and therefore, by the nature of the duality, unmaternalistic) structure.

For instance. If a person were to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with two small children and one spouse, the day could break down something like this:

Get up at crack of dawn.
Get self ready, quietly. (Quiet is imperative here; unthinkable how day might unfold if Childs 1&2 get up before adult members of household are ready)
Get Child #1 up. Feed, clothe, tooth care, hair styling. Talk about the potential happenings of the day. Encourage bright looking, kind hearts, and no kick fights under the table at daycare.
Ensure all packed lunches are ready to go.
Eat own breakfast. Make coffee and drink no matter what.
Get Child #2 up. Bottle of nicely warmed milk with vitamins and omega 3s added. Snuggle. Hold tight. Feed breakfast, always a hit-and-miss endeavour. Both literally and figuratively.
Start car and scrape windows because garage is filled with furniture, books, and an assortment of power tools scattered across the car parking space.
Other parent takes Child #1 to daycare and drives back across city to arrive chronically late.
Take Child #2 to home care (as yet unsourced but was thankfully a dear friend doing a dear favour that deserves not only Lemon Poppeyseed Loaf but also eternal gratitude).
Leave both lunch and all work materials at home on bench by door. Realize three blocks from work that all work materials are on bench. Drive back home and pick up. Thank god that the key is in pocket after momentary panic that key is lost.
Pick up children at appropriate times post day. Give children snack of berries, picking through to remove (mostly) mouldy berries that were purchased yesterday.
Make hasty supper, doing best to incorporate something green and something homemade. Struggle through supper with cranky and tired children.
and so on....

Success in this field also depends on the support systems a person has. Some of this is how we set it up ourselves, but a lot is luck of the draw. People with family who can provide free and easy childcare (or even not free but still easy, easy in terms of worry and comfort levels) have a leg up on people who depend on outside care. Outside care, which can be downright difficult to find, is a whole new labyrinth of difficulties to navigate; from who drives and picks up to how to deal with staff turnover and shortages to home providers who do extensive renovations and get the flu.

Places for the little wees, a tricky age at best, are near non-existent, in my world, anyways, and the earliest that one will come open will be fall 2009, unless I choose to do the one here, one there, method, which I know from those close to adds yet another layer of time-rushing to the day.

Anyways, I don't fit in the world of desks and offices anyways, so this is sort of a moot point personally. Sometimes, however, when I think about how feminism can seem so far ahead and then suddenly so not, I get a little out of breath.

That's all. I'll breathe a bit this weekend and come back with the chip off my shoulder.


lotusloq said...

wow! I suppose I avoided those issues by just staying home with my children.

"Cindy" from Alberta said...

It isn't what I expected, for sure, when we had kids. It seems to me that over the years he just stopped doing as much. Sometimes I think that's because I took everthing on automatically. That sounds like I'm blaming myself, that's not what I meant. I think they just don't expect to have to do as much. It's too bad really. I have one daughter and one son and I hope I raise them differently. (I don't usually commnet on blogs, or read them, actually, but I like yours!)

spinregina said...

Yes, I'm trying the work from home option, myself. So far so good, but provides its own challenges, a la child not impressed when mum spends afternoons trying to check her email/write an article...

And "cindy," I wonder sometimes if I set myself up to fail? If I just take it on take it on, because I feel like I can do it better/faster/my way...and then eventually he just gives up? hmmm