About Me

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Being a 21st Century Woman

I feel completely blessed that I was born into a time when women have rights (perhaps not quite equal rights), where women can have a life outside the home, where women can go to work and have kids too, where we can do all kinds of things are predecesors couldn't. We have choices. However I think that now, more than ever, we also have pressure. Pressure to work, to be a perfect mother, to have a home worthy of Country Living Magazine, to be HSBC Business Woman of the year, in fact to be a bloomin' Super Woman. With the availability of choice, actually comes less choice too. Where 50 or 60 years ago a large portion of women would have stayed at home with their children and been a 'home maker', and the pressure on the men to be the breadwinner, now the pressure is shared.
I think for a young woman, particularly once she starts to have children, there is this unspoken rule that she will not only look after the kids, clean the house, cook, etc but also she will work.

I am white middle class. Theres no shame in that, it's just what I was born into. I don't assimiliate to all the typical white middle class ideals, but much of my life is in that bracket. And I notice particularly within this bracket this pressure on women to be everything. To make the decision to be a stay at home mum is a brave one round these parts. And if you do become one then you are expected to join the PTA, village organisation and help at the toddler group. So then you become a working mum too, you just don't get paid or any credit for it.

The other type of mum becomes someone who works from home or runs her own business, in the hope that it will fit round the kids but also provide some income (or as one friend termed it some 'pin money', cough, splutter...;)  )  Without fail everyone then moans about this as it invariably does not fit around the kids... Some of you will know of my own experience running my own business, which I no longer do. It left me with a feeling that it is simply impossible for a woman to be a housewife and mum and work, and to do all of that well. Something has to give. (unless of course you earn a packet and can afford a nanny and that is a whole other discussion...)

I am of course slightly biased as by working so hard I made myself ill. But at the same time I am almost angry that we put this pressure on ourselves. And it's not just ourselves, it's the fact that we are capable women and society and Country Living magazine tell us that we can have it all and be wonderful, beautiful, smiling examples of womanhood...  Ok, so I am having a bad day... perhaps this post is rather one sided... But seriously why are we never happy? and I speak to myself here too. Currently I am in a place where I think, Ireally know that I need to be spending time at home, to be spending time being a mother and housewife. It may not be forever, who knows, but I am finding it very hard to stay there. I seem to be torn between being a stay at home mum (with some voluntary work on the side) and being a dynamic young woman setting off to change the world (tongue firmly in cheek there...)

Incidentally in the middle of this rant I had a deja-vu moment and realised I have written some of this before... see here for more..!  #not leanring from past rants


Harriet said...

I know that I am split into two parts - I never regretted giving up work to be at home for the boys - I loved it. It was the most fulfilling job I could wish for and we have 2 communicative sons who are a pleasure to be with. But every so often the ambition rises up and I feel like I should / could do more. I won't do both together - I tried and hated it. If I had to choose - i would choose to stay at home and be responsible for my own children. Lots of people don't have that choice - but I wish they did and I wish that good parenting skills were acknowledged and celebrated.I feel very strongly about this!

Doorkeeper said...

My daughter-in-law (a solicitor but currently at home with two littlies) and I (formerly in a 'good job', twice retired and currently working again) agree about one important thing - it is worth going out to work even if you only earn enough to pay the cleaner.

Harriet said...

Sorry about previous rant - just to clarify - I have no problem with people choosing to go out to work - I work now.It's having to apologise for choosing to be a stay at home mum, that gets me.

Lay Anglicana said...

I'm in my early sixties, so am between the two generations you describe. At my place of work I reached the level where we were told we had become honorary men - not quite my intention. We were told we should be 'duchesses in the drawing room and whores in the bedroom'. Well, I'm a pretty ropey duchess and I defy anyone to be her husband's whore after 30 years of marriage!

I think perhaps we were the first generation who tried to do it all, and realised this was impossible.

Everyone's life involves choices - the only problem is knowing which is the right one for you.

I'm sure you know Robert Frost's poem 'The road not taken' - he would have gone mad if he had tried to take both!

Red said...

thanks guys. Always an emotive subject!
@Harriet i think thst where I am, or have been, trying to do both and realising I am not enjoying it. and don't apologise for the rant, its good that you feel strongly about it! and I agree with you :)
@doorkeeper yes I think if you can, it helps to keep you sane! its just about balance though isn't it..
@laura, you do make me laugh! but yes, its knowing what is right for you, and that is my dilemna!