So, how do we get it right?Work? Kids? Family? Love-life? Friends? Somethings got to give.
Last week I worked full-time, that being about 50 hours plus two additional night functions. Normally I work part-time to fit in with the kids etc. I did it for one week and already the house is in a huge mess. I completely lost track of one of my boys, coming home quite late at night to him not being there. When I asked his brother where he was, I was given nothing but the usual reply 'I dunno' (delivered as a grunt with a bit of inflection, no actual words). By Friday night the younger one just sat there repeatedly mumbling to the dog, I know this behaviour, this is what he does when I haven't been around much. One week!
I know it might be a bit different if there was another partner involved to pick up the slack (you would hope, not always the case), however my ex-husband is one of those who didn't opt for shared custody, instead he sees the boys very rarely so they've already basically lost one parent and really I am it.
The I don't know how she does it? question has always irked me. I mean, wonderment doesn't help, and anyway, you just do. But as I thought about my other friends who are mothers, working full-time, I realised only those who are very financially sound (have loads of help, cleaners, nannies, usually two-income families, both with big salaries), although a bit stressed, generally seem pretty OK. For the rest of us there is that look of frenzy juggling, exhaustion and mess, let's face it, you just can't do everything.
Truth is, I really like working and full-time positions are usually more interesting, with better advancement opportunities and obviously better pay, not just because there are more hours, but also the pro-rata rate is usually higher too. But I don't want my family to suffer, I feel conflicted and then to top it off I feel like I'm letting down the quest for gender equality by working part-time and prioritising the kids!
Then there's the aspect of a social life, dating, meeting people, where does that all fit in? Maybe if I could just keep a man in a box and pull him out when I have the chance (yes, it sounds like a vibrator, but I do sometimes prefer an actual person to interact with) that would be the best solution?
Annabel Crabb recently wrote an article for The Sydney Morning Herald entitled ' Where's My Margie?' Our Prime Minister (Tony Abbott)'s wife's name is Margie. He often gives her open credit for the entire upbringing of their children as he should and she did. But the question asked in the article is what happens when you don't have a person behind the scenes doing all of this for you? What happens when you don't have a 'Margie'?
So as I glance out into my yard, a sea of uncollected dog poop, and think about this one more time, I feel a combination of frustration and hope. I recently noticed something my boys did, showing a lack of gender bias and said to them, 'you and your friends are going to be the best feminists!'
'Don't really like that word,' my eldest replied, 'how about we just call the ones who aren't, assholes?'
And I know that it doesn't matter how we do it all, as long as we just keep going, because I think we might actually be getting somewhere.
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