'Australian women of child-bearing and child-rearing age have been raised on a lie. The “you can have it all” lie.
The sooner we face it, the better; the game is rigged.'
“‘Having it all’ is a lie for Australian women” reads the title. Is it? This is the heading of a recent article, which featured in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The article, which is brilliant, supports the notion that women in this day and age, can’t have it all without a supportive spouse or partner. And although today’s women may have been raised to obtain an education and financial independence through a career, men simply haven’t been briefed on this. As the writer notes: ‘who is saying to their male offspring, “forget about the law degree or running the family business, son. Have you ever considered a lifetime of domestic duties?” ’
We as women may have been taught to ‘dream big' as the writer suggests yet most of our male counterparts simply haven't been taught the same thing.
Statistics that the journo cites are frightening. Of 15000 women surveyed, about half were diagnosed with depression or anxiety by a doctor or psychologist. Why, the writer states is because the notion of ‘having it all’, the great career, the perfect children, the seamless family life, just doesn’t exist in most cases because men haven’t learnt to step up and be accountable on the domestic home front.
Working each day, home cooked meals each night, the hundreds of emails to reply to, the bills to pay, kids activities to get to, doctors appointments to make, school runs, traffic getting to work, exercise (if any), the needy husband, the grocery shop, the washing, the ironing, the cleaning, the cooking, the work deadline are just some of the things we try desperately hard to fit into a week, or should I say day? Hell, no wonder we’re depressed. It’s a hard slog. Even harder when the bulk of domestic duties fall on your shoulders.
I’ll give you two great examples of why I think the writer of this article is on the money. Recently a friend of mine was in town. A successful lawyer working in a large firm in Melbourne. She has three young children but manages to work 3 days a week. As she was explaining what she did, she was honest enough to acknowledge her husband’s contribution and support of her own work, not just his words, but also more significantly his actions. ‘On the days that I go to work, he just steps in. Makes the kids breakfast, does the girl's hair, gets them ready for school, makes their lunches and drops them off and picks them up from school. It’s like I’m not even there’. Dare I say, a real partnership…?
So as wonderful as this is, in my experience, this is a clear example of a household in the minority. I was retelling this story to a group of friends, and as I finished they collectively rolled their eyes, laughed out loud and said ‘could you imagine any of our husband's ever doing any of that'. The answer was simply no. Unless of course, we were in a hospital or at home in bed near to death. Even then, I think dinner would somehow be expected to appear magically.
The second example concerns my own family. Recently, I asked my own husband something about the kid’s lunch boxes and what he thought of them. ‘Not my department’ came the response as he walked away.
So in my house, and I dare say a lot of others, there is still a long way to go…..