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I was responding to an email about the so-called Mommy wars and I thought I'd share it with you all.

I've heard (though haven't read) far better book on this topic is The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother?

People who say work-at-home, or stay-at-home, or whatever-the-hell-kind-of mom have it easier are totally missing the point. I don't think there is much choice beyond full-time and no time. I feel we're still in this gendered society where you can be 'male' and work full-time or 'female' and stay at home. Thanks to feminism, women have crossed over and it's considered normal for women to work full-time, but the roles are still gendered. -- People still fawn over men who do housework. People question whether moms can work and look after their kids. These same questions aren't raised about dads who work full-time. Fortunately men who do childcare are considered more normal. But to a large extent, we're still stuck in these gender roles that don't make sense for modern life.

I personally would never sign up for a deal with a partner where I worked full-time and I still did all or even the bulk of the housework and childcare. I did that for a summer with my dad and my sister who's 8 years younger than me. I will never do it again. I think you get what you negotiate. But a lot of women negotiate these types of deals so there's clearly still a power imbalance.

Part of the power imbalance has to do with the fact that it is difficult for both parents to work full-time and get all the household and childcare done in a household with healthy kids and parents, yet there's a lack of decent part-time work. For people with additional challenges like single parents, special needs kids, parents with severe health issues, it can become impossible. It's incredibly limiting.

Someone has to deal with all Little T's medical issues, doctor's apts, therapy apts, etc and most of these tasks require someone available during business hours. We picked me since I was already not working. As it is, my husband's company has given him more time off the very low norm we have in this country so he can be there somewhat for the major apts and hospitalizations. Decent part-time work is difficult to find. And by decent, I mean something that requires my job skills and also pays more than I would pay out for childcare. So I just don't work. It's not only a shame for me, but for the economy, because I'm highly skilled with an MBA, so could contribute more. Other industrialised countries have better social systems in place and people have more choices.

I'm on the side of moms who still think we need more choices and recognise that in a family you need at least one source of income and people to do housework and childcare and however you slice it, it's a lot of work.

Comments

( 3 notes — Leave a note )
poets_hand
Mar. 9th, 2006 09:34 pm (UTC)
Excellently put.

Yes, we still do have gender roles. I work part-time (15 hours a week as a massage therapist), go to school half-time, and stay home with both kids full time, yet I do all the laundry, all the cooking, the dishes, make and change the beds, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning, and anything else you can think of. My husband works full time and mows the grass in the summer. It's not a perfect system, by any means.
waterowl
Mar. 10th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
Yow that's a lot of work. I think a lot of women are in the same boat. I don't think it's fair. Though unfortunately life is rarely fair.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 20th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
Mommies
Amen. Amen. Amen.
--Ilene
( 3 notes — Leave a note )