Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soapbox


I've tried to stay away from this subject because I have been making a valiant effort to keep my thoughts positive and expect the best and so forth. But it's sticking in my craw a bit so I think best just address and move on. Or, more typically in my case, sideways, upanddown, and then (usually) assbackwards.

Growing up I expected that I would work, not get married, continue a lifetime of working, not being married, enjoying half-way but never all consuming love affairs, copious recognition for my journalistic endeavours, and partaking in world travel adventures.

Instead, I got some fun but meaningless jobs, fell in love, fell in love again with two little girls, and took a convoluted path to where I am now. (Which is sitting in front of a computer, practicing my writing skills instead of writing a report which would get me some money with which I could buy a full year's pass to Yoga Mala. Report will be written by end of day.)

Once I had the first sweet little girl my mind-set was thrown topsy-turvy. Work? Stay at home? Combination of the two? How to manage this conundrum was (nearly) all consuming. The issue was expedited by mitigating circumstances, namely, while I was on maternity leave my job was contracted permanently to someone else (the courts are still ironing that baby out) and so I went in a new and different direction.

This isn't meant to be a Historical Evaluation of my work history, nor is it an Examination of Industry Standards for Women. Rather, the issues I come up against again and again are those of Juggling. Or, as any mother can attest to, Life and Balance and So Forth.

See, when I work, I balance around those two sweet little girls and that one (sweet and sometimes tart) husband. That's how it is, because, in simple economic terms, he makes more than me and he works more than me. Makes sense, then, for him to take on less household tasks and for me to assume that load. Makes sense in a myriad ways, right, from simple economic to actual availability of time - who has more? Obviously, me.

But what if our world were structured oh so differently? What if it was an expectation that everybody does something other than parent? I write that and I imagine that all stay-at-home parents boo automatically, but hear me out. I don't mean to devalue the work in the home. Not at all. Nor do I mean that everyone should work. Or, maybe that is what I mean. Maybe, if it was an expectation, that all people were to work, not necessarily as hard or as much, then the burden (and let's face it, you can sugar coat all you like, but taking care of the home is about as stimulating as....Sponge Bob) of the Home would be divided more equally. If women grew up with these expectations and then didn't have the rug pulled out from out of them...if it was assumed that biology didn't construct our lives, that we have a say in them, too...

Wow, if all those things were true it wouldn't even be close to being the same world, now would it?

This sounds complainy, and it's not meant to be in the least. Nor is it a litany against the Husband. But I do wonder. Will those two sweet little girls live like this, in a construct of societal expectations, where girls can be anything they want as long as they still do the dishes?

Hm.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'ts true that women have more of the responsibility in terms of househould tasks. It's true but not fair. Sometimes it makes me really mad, when I think about it. In the U.S. where I live we don't have the same maternity benefits tht Canadians and Europeans have too and that makes a big difference, it's harder to stay at home, but doesn't mean that you have any less responibility at home.

Anonymous said...

What about the comment I heard that you can't be good at both...you can't be a good mother AND a good colleague. One will suffer. I'm undecided as to whether I agree but one thing is for certain as I work full time these days, I'm doing both okay. And it may be up to me as to whether okay is good enough. BUT I do like that it still is up to me. Choice is power.

lotusloq said...

I think some people can do both well. I don't think I can. I don't multi-task well, and I don't delegate well.

I think having to do the dishes, laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. all alone is a bit much to ask someone who is working full time. It bugs me when both spouses work and the wife still has to do all those things just because she is the female.

It also bugs me that because I'm a stay at home mom people assume I'm not working. (Well actually I'm writing or researching or something connected to that, but even before I was doing that I got this.)

I think spouses should help each other in all things. Isn't that what we promise to do when we marry?

Anonymous said...

yeah I don't know about being good at both, you would have to be a superstar. Our world just isn't cut out for it. Maybe if there was more childcare spaces. And it would be nice to have choices to have more childcare to choose from or more support. I like what lotusloq said, about assuming that stay at home moms don't work. Of course we work! Do you work, spinreinga?

spinregina said...

There is still a vast divide (in my world, anyway) between who does more housework. I try to be objective about it...would it be the case if I made lots of $? Hm. Not sure. I remember women talking about this years ago when I did my degree (women's studies) and thinking god, what a boring topic, what a mundane topic, WHO CARES and now look...still front and centre. But more than the housework it's the societal systems that really pick my ***. Really, I promise, I'll stop talking about this. Obviously I need to watch more of my dancing shows!!

Anonymous said...

I have my dream job and am able to work from home and be with my little one. I do have a nanny that comes in part-time. I do well financially but so does my husband who goes into the office. The problem arises because I am at home and then expected to do a majority of the childcare and household responsibilities. If I complain and ask for help his response is have the house cleaner come more often or the nanny full-time during the day. My husband feels his free time should be spent as family time and it is hard to disagree since he does work hard and have a stressful job. I personally do not want to give up time with my precious angel as she won't be little forever. I end up choosing to put more stress on myself to balance my time during the day. Can you have both a successful career and be a successful wife/mother? You better have great time management skills or add a few extra hours to the day.

spinregina said...

See, I'm walking a fine line, too. Working from home, and then it just seems natural for me to try to do it all...I'm here, right, so why not throw in a load of laundry, I'm eating in the kitchen, maybe I should wipe down the cupboards...and so it morphs. I'm not sure it's an issue I'll be able to fix, but I like to at least think about it...