I’ve always been a proud ‘feminist’. My husband is too. Our initial partnership was extremely 50/50. We earned the same. I could make Asian broths. He made a mean green peppercorn sauce. We both cleaned the bathroom.
But then we had kids. And everything changed.
Soon afterwards, I found myself at home, enslaved to household chores and watching my career drift off to Nowheresville while my husband steadily climbed the corporate ladder.
My part-time job was unfulfilling. Somehow if I worked 5 days a week I could be awesome, but 3 days a week, I was only suited to junior jobs and zero responsibility. There seems to be some sexist notion that unless you can commit to the full 40-hour-per-week game, you are effectively OUT of the game, and forced to spend much of your career on the sidelines, watching.
After a few years of juggling everything, I got overwhelmed and overburdened. I chucked a wobbly and quit work. So there I was. At home. Full time. Doing ALL the chores. Financially dependent on my spouse.
It’s a common tale I think.
Since then, I’ve been working on Vegie Smugglers. It’s done well and I’m proud. And while the label ‘mumpreneur’ irks me a bit, I’m happy to be aligned with a generation of women who are utilising technology in an attempt to combine nurturing their family with pursuing their own personal potential.
But recently for homework, Miss F had to interview someone about their job. I offered to help but she looked at me, genuinely confused. “But you don’t work!” she cried!
No? Just two cookbooks, two e-books, 200 blog posts, 7500 facebookers, plus the entire management of the household and our family for the past 3 years. I don’t need to tell you guys how hard I work.
Soon after, I was offered two days a week of traditional work, outside the home and I took it. The extra money is handy and more importantly, I’m showing Miss F a role model of a ‘working’ woman. Her attitude to me has noticeably changed. She’s not taking me for granted. She seems ‘prouder’ that her mum is now like the other mums (ie, more unavailable and consistently stressed).
The feminist debate that’s had me thinking about all this is the recent call by Anne-Marie Slaughter for the world to shift and for women to no longer be forced into the male structure in order to find success. Because it’s true. How on earth can women have it all with just 24 hours in a day?
And with Slaughter’s opinion that balancing career and family is impossible, just what are we supposed to be telling our daughters? What examples are we supposed to be setting? What kind of women do we want our daughters to be?
Miss F turns 8 soon and I want to know how to guide her to be a ‘kick ass’, strong, woman. I thought that I’d been raising her to be a good feminist. But actually, all she’s seen is a woman at home in the traditional role that feminism has fought to free us from.
I want a kick ass daughter. But what does that even mean? And how do I do it?