This post was written for the Fem2.0 blog carnival on women and caregiving.
I’m tired. My job and two kids take it out of me both physically and
mentally, every day. The husband, a most loving partner and doting
father, is happy to help, eager for instruction like a dog waiting for
its master’s next command. When he’s not focusing on his
70-plus-hours-a-week job, that is. Some days, I resent this terribly.
At what point in our game of house did the rules change so that he
should be the one free to go out and beat the world while I assume full
responsibility for beating the children? (Just kidding, I don’t really
beat the children. Okay, when they were younger, maybe I did, but only
a little.) Other days, however – and I try very hard for it to be the
vast majority of days – I am grateful. After all, though I have the
husband, I don’t even have a dog.
There are many women who are working and raising children all by themselves (13.9 million in 2007), other women caring for both children and elderly parents (about 75 percent of eldercare is given by women), and still others taking care of loved ones who are ill or disabled (about 30 million in 2004).
There are some women who are dealing with all of these things at once,
with pets thrown in for good measure. The recession has furthermore
brought home the fact that my very ability to whine about fatigue and
agonize about things such as work/family balance, and holding onto
dreams, ambitions and identity, is a privilege. However impossibly
hectic my days, I have choices, and time and mental energy left over to
whine and agonize. Millions of women don’t.
Millions of women care not a whit about impressing their children’s
teachers because they don’t have paid leave and can’t afford to take
the time off from work to attend parent-teacher meetings. Millions of
women don’t torture themselves about how they’re doing professionally
relative to their partners because both are working long grueling hours
so their family can survive paychecks to paychecks. Millions of women
are glad to just hold on to their jobs, never mind worry about
“fulfilling their potential.” Millions of women patch together less
than adequate childcare, eldercare and other care because that’s the
best they can do to allow them to work and provide for their families.
And millions of women, privileged or not, accept caregiving as their
own personal burden, and never question why it has to be so hard...
Read the rest of this post here.
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