Equality and emancipation in parenthood is an interesting theory. But at closer inspection, I can’t help but feel betrayed. For decades, I had bought into the propaganda. However, after four years of nappies and pear purée, it has dawned on me: When push comes to shove, I am in this alone.
As much as I’d love to have a scapegoat, I can’t even blame it on the husband. Big M does what he can and more to handle his share of childcare and household (I refuse to say ‘help me’, as it shouldn’t be my responsibility alone). But still, it’s not enough.
Growing up, I have been sold an image of equality that I would yet need to come across in real life. In general, women are still the ones expected to take career breaks. It’s what our society anticipates and what we are willing to accommodate. We wouldn’t even think of asking a man to take a couple of steps back, maybe even risking never getting into the game again. Of course, there are the odd ones out. But they are just that.
When Little L was born, I suddenly faced the decision between staying home and putting my child into the hands of strangers to go back to work. I had the luxury to choose to stay at home. But I didn’t choose to be deadlocked in this situation forever. And deadlocked I am.
The list of house & home responsibilities got longer over time and even longer with the expansion of our family. If I now want to work (I am doing bits and pieces of freelance work), I am struggling to create some ‘free’ time to make it happen. I love my family and I love my life, but sometimes, this whole conglomerate of offspring, husband and house feels like a millstone around my neck. How am I ever going to get back on the career track, if I am also the one left to deal with the organisational mountain that a family of four entails?
Of the women I know who went back to work fulltime, the majority now has to deal with said mountain on top of everything work related. They are having it ALL. Not a very appealing concept.
Now that the breastfeeding fog has lifted (please tell me I am not the only one who suffered from lactation related stupefaction) and I am no longer getting up ten times a night, I am revelling in newfound energy and drive. But what to do with it? Bake bread? Gardening? Baby food?!?!
I have never been one to sojourn in a situation (relationship, city, country…) that didn’t make me happy. What frustrates me most about the current situation is that I know that despite my misery, it’s perfect for us as a family. Me, the one that was always quick to jump from one big decision to the next, can’t change anything.
I will just have to wait until the girls are a little bit older.