#IWD2020 - Like Wonderwoman without a cape…
In this #MakingWorkVisible blog, Vikki Stephen highlights the work that goes into balancing two full time jobs - teaching and caring.
I could’ve started this blog by listing the sheer volume of work that goes into being a 21st century woman, such as the time, effort and cost of trying to look hot as hell, 24/7 – fuelled by a multi-million pound beauty industry and the societal pressures of turning back the clock on our faces (because how dare we be affected by the ageing process). OR, I could’ve begun by discussing the emotional, physical and mental impacts of parenting that appear to mostly only affect mothers, and the fact that fathers are glorified for being ‘hands on’ on the rare occasion that they do the school run (wowee!), and don’t even get me started on the negative connotations of the term ‘single mother’ in comparison to the term ‘single father’.
However, I don’t feel I could do any of those issues justice without a multi-million-word limit. What I will discuss here is my own personal experiences of being a solo mother in 2020, feeling stressed out & invisible, and being absolutely skint despite all of my hard graft.
Last week I worked approx. 140 hours, and it still wasn’t enough. Of these 140 hours I was only paid for 35 of them in my full time career as a teacher. It’s no exaggeration that I literally work in my sleep, waking intermittently with thoughts of things I need to prepare for the next morning before briefly dozing off again then waking in a panic because there are so many things to do and not enough minions to help me. While my mind is constantly on my unpaid job as a mother, as well as my actual job, I often feel that I am failing in both areas of my life – my house is a complete and utter mess, and I’m constantly missing things that I should’ve done, and feeling awful in the process. Last week I forgot that it was photo day at my son’s school, and it was only later in the day while I was at work 35 miles away, that I realised he would need his football kit for the team photo, and I had absolutely no way of getting it to him when he needed it – the mum guilt hit me full force! I cried when I got home later that day and spoke to him about it. I realise I’m meant to be a strong independent woman but sometimes these basic things feel like tooooooo much, and I just wish that someone somewhere would give me a wee bit of back up in this crazy busy life of mine. But I go on… and on, in the hope that one-day things will become easier and I may be rewarded for all of this hard work – that is the dream!
I’m curious to know if any fathers feel these same pressures? I’m sure they do to an extent, but I’m yet to hear of any father being concerned about anything remotely related to the emotional rollercoaster that is the parenting/work/life balance. It seems as if, even in families with two parents present, and both parents in full time jobs, the bulk of parental responsibility and endless household chores often lies with the mother. Or it certainly feels this way when I have these conversations with family and friends. Surely this is what needs to change first and foremost to address the balance? The whole issue of gender equality is a minefield, and one that people are often too reluctant to discuss due to the impact of the toxic masculinity that exists all around us. You only need to look at the mainstream media to see which gender holds the power in society, politics, and the media. Feminist women are referred to as ‘whingeing, man-hating, ugly, boring, lesbians’ by the masses on social media whenever they dare to state their views on gender (in)equality. We have come so far in terms of how unbalanced society was in terms of gender a few generations ago, but there has never been a more important time to try and address the balance, before the pendulum swings right back to where we were in years gone by. I think small steps can be made in the home, where male roles within a typical family unit have not evolved as much as female roles have. Women now work harder than at any time in history, yet are still solely under pressure to be perfect wives and mothers with pristine homes and perfect children. Now is the time for men to get past the feeling that gender equality is an attack against them – by stepping up and sharing the thankless invisible workload that women everywhere are juggling with every single day.
It’s ironic that I’d love to spend more time writing and advocating women’s rights and feminism, but the true fact is that I’m spending every waking second trying to be a 21st century woman – leaving zero time to even blink, never mind devote to the cause, despite my passion for the subject. Nevertheless, there is a certain confidence and sense of empowerment that comes with being a crazy busy, strong and independent woman. Even though I feel the unfairness of my own circumstances every single day, there are few things I would wish to change in my life… although some extra pennies in el banko, a few minions, a hot dude, and an actual social life would be useful.
Now, I must dash – I have dishes to do, laundry to put away, and I need to source a beauty regime that’s free and can make me look 10 years younger & less sleep deprived!