*Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be political in any way. I am drawing almost entirely on my own life experience and do not suggest that all people do or should agree with me. I am not passing judgment on working mothers, or anyone else.
A friend recently posted the following on her facebook status:
“I want a peppy assistant to go to the grocery store for me each week! Then, if she stills has some zip in her when she gets back, she can cook dinner too! Imagine what I could accomplish with a personal assistant!”
That reminded me of something I had read, because I was told to, my senior year in high school. I don’t remember the purpose for the reading, but I know I didn’t really get it then. The assignment was to read I Want a Wife by Judy Brady. She wrote it in 1971 and it appeared in the premier edition of Ms. magazine. The wife in the essay decides she’d like to have a wife to do all the things for her that she and other wives did for their husbands.
If you take the time to follow the link and read the text, you’ll undoubtedly notice that a lot has changed since 1971. And yet, much has stayed the same. My observation is that while women have fought for and earned more equality in the workplace, the men, maybe out of sheer necessity rather than out of the goodness of their hearts, have taken on more equality in the home and family.
But I wonder this: Are the women happier? Are the men happier? Who has gotten the better end of the whole deal?
I am currently a stay at home mom of four (ages 11, 9, 6 and 2). But, until 6 years ago, I worked full time and until 2 years ago, I worked part time. I enjoyed my job! I had a great gig working for and with some great people. I truly felt that my job was very low stress. Until I left it. The biggest eye opener to me about what my life had been like when I worked was that every time I went back to visit my former coworkers, someone would invariably comment about how much younger I looked, how much more relaxed I seemed, etc.
What did they see that I hadn’t all those years? I think they saw a woman who was trying to do it all. Employee, homemaker, wife, mother, volunteer, Christian, daughter (these aren’t listed in any particular order). I think they saw me for what I was…someone struggling to keep her head above the water in all aspects of her life. I used a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Now? Now, I’m happier. I’m just as busy as I was before. But it’s not a crazy, stressful busy. It’s, well, Chaotic Bliss.
Is it maybe more than we bargained for? Equality is a wonderful thing! But, have we stressed ourselves out so much by trying to do it all, that we don’t do any of it very well? That we’re stressed out, that we feel like failures much of the time? What impact does our struggle to do it all have on our children? Our marriages?
I don’t know. I just wonder.
What about the men? They have stepped up in so many ways. They’re in the delivery room, they change the diapers, they get up in the night and change the baby after the mama nurses, they cook, they clean, they do laundry, they shuttle kids to doctor appointments, they coach sports, they attend parent-teacher conferences. Are they as stressed out by their domestic involvement as women are by their corporate involvement? Does their work suffer because they cook dinner some nights? Are they happier now?
I don’t know. I just wonder.
For me, personally, I don’t want a wife. I want a partner. And, lucky for me, I have one.
Oh, and a peppy assistant would be nice, too!