JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO
How lucky we are as women today, right? How awesome is it that we can go to school, study what we like, vote in elections, build a career, own property, marry who we want, make a family, go back to work, earn our own money? I mean, honestly, when Emmeline Pankhurst donned her sash, raised her placard and demanded the vote for women, how on earth could she have known what she started? But thank god she did. I think we're all agreed that votes for women are a good thing. In fact, all of the above are great things for women but I'm starting to wonder if we're all holding on to those things a little too tightly and perhaps for the wrong reasons. I'm a bit concerned that we're running around making sure we 'have it all' because our predecessors literally died for us to have the choice. How on earth, then, could we consider saying, 'Thanks for that, but you know what, I'm just going to hang out with my Small?' or 'You know what, kids are nice and all, but I'd far rather just go to work everyday and kick ass there. Cool?'
You see, I'm tired. Really tired. Exhausted if you like and for about 75% of the time, I can be found in the deepest, darkest corners of my mind wondering what the fuck I'm supposed to be doing. The answer: EVERYTHING. We are tearing ourselves into a million tiny pieces trying to be everything for everyone, simply because we've been given the option and we'd feel mighty ungrateful if we didn't make the most of it.
But you know what? I'm starting to think I might have bitten off more from the women's rights buffet than I can chew.
Just because we can have it all, does it mean we should? Do we actually have it all or are we just having to do it all? We've got all the opportunities that our boy-shaped counterparts have (pay gaps notwithstanding), but while they too can have it all, they don't actually do it all. I love my husband; I have an awesome one with whom I parent on a 50/50 basis. We share the get ups and the bedtimes. He'll put laundry in, change litter trays, empty bins and cook amazing meals.
But, without making too many sweeping generalisations, they duck out of all the other 'stuff' that we insist on taking on. There's a huge amount of emotional labour that goes into our days that boys, rather cleverly, allow to drop off the priority list. They don't worry about the shopping and the daycare and the pick ups and the drop offs. They don't organise the playdates and the doctors appointments. They don't keep track of all the birthdays and the cards and the presents. Christmas cards, wrapping and menu planning rate fairly low on their agenda. They're not the ones changing beds, doing laundry, ironing, folding and putting it all away not to mention all the other really boring household stuff.
Then, of course, because women died for it, we're also working and running businesses and answering emails and fighting commutes to get to nursery in time. We've been given the keys to the house as well, which means we can come and go as we please, so we're going out to meet friends and remember who we used to be because we've been told that motherhood isn't the end of our pre-baby self (so we should make the most of that too). As if that wasn't enough, we're hitting the yoga studios, running before sunrise, and meditating (that's all the rage isn't it?)
The fact that my husband gives zero fucks about this sort of thing doesn't make him a bad person - if anything it says more about my control issues than his apathy. But here's the crazy thing: my need to control this stuff comes from a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility handed down to me by my mother and every woman who's ever fought for my right to 'have it all'.
Of course, having it all came with conditions. It was ok for women to vote as long as they weren't thinking of going out to work. Then it was ok for women to work as long as they weren't thinking about forgoing project procreation. Then it was ok for women to forgo project procreation as long as they did it EVENTUALLY (society is still struggling to understand why a woman may decide that she doesn't want kids).
Men aren't lazy. They're smart. While they've delegated, we're still trying to do it all ourselves and, inevitably, doing a half-assed job of some of it. Cue a shit load of mama guilt, constant headaches, stress and tiredness. Let's take a leaf out of the boy's books. Make a list of all the stuff you've got on and then, as my wise friend said, it's all about the 3 Ds:
DO IT, DELEGATE IT or DELETE IT.
I ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO THIS MYSELF (things like work, exercise etc.)
SOMEONE ELSE CAN DO THIS FOR ME (most of our stuff falls under this and you can share this shit out, or buy it instead of making it. Think Aunt Bessie's, hiring a cleaner, getting the grandparents in)
IT ACTUALLY DOESN'T MATTER IF THIS SHIT DOESN'T GET DONE (think: Christmas cards, polishing the skirting boards, cleaning the car)
Let's be more man about this ladies.