Tonight my dear husband had a gig. He plays piano, and he sings, and he’s pretty great at it, and unfortunately that means he’s (increasingly frequently) called away to play at various shindigs. SO guess who got to stay home with the kids, yet again? Oh, yes, yes, it was me. And don’t I just love it. After all, isn’t this why I became a parent? So I could spend close to three hours single-handedly mustering children into their beds?
Okay, to be fair, I didn’t spend the whole time actively coaxing the little treasures to sleepy-time. I played it smart (I think?) and went about it slow and casual. I put on Alice in Wonderland (the 1951 cartoon, for my interest more than theirs – it pertains to my uni studies), served them a rolling dinner of Whatever The Fuck They Wanted, packed the dishwasher, generally kept things light and entertaining right up until The Moment of Truth. And…. It went reasonably well! The gal was quite compliant (being very incredibly ready for sleep), and the boy… well, he was a monkey, but he managed not to keep the gal awake with his hullabaloo, so I guess that’s a win.
Now I’m up way too late again, chatting to a friend and enjoying a quiet drink to myself while I ponder the growing need to shake things up good and proper. Chatting to some girlfriends today, it was like an echo going round: the experience is oh so similar, across the board. Mums feel shackled to their 24/7 job. We give up so much just to be there for those little mites, and somewhere along the way that includes our own personalities, our interests and passions and hobbies…
I read this bonza article the other day that so elegantly explained the struggle. “A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself” hit a raw nerve deep inside. It applied words to complex emotions. Women simply don’t have the time to do things that feel productive or important to us (aside from raising and nurturing children, which is of course important in its own right – but as mentioned above, seems to require a total sacrifice of self). When we do have the time, there is a guilty sense that we should be doing something mundane like catching up on housework. It’s the pervasive, unspoken sense that women don’t deserve time to themselves that is the real issue; after all, men seem to have an abundance of the stuff as they wish, irrespective of children or housework.
For my year 11 debutante ball, all the girls emerged from the wings to the (seemingly outdated) classic, “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” by the Eurythmics. At the time I thought it a bit absurd – at the tender age of sixteen, I had no idea that women were not on equal footing with men. It’s taken over a decade of growing up to realise that this song is indeed still relevant and necessary! Women are still making their slow way out of the kitchen, unshackling themselves from this age-old idea that somehow, we’re not worth the luxury of a bit of space and time to be ourselves, to create and contribute in meaningful ways to society. Of course, there are some who have achieved success here, but as a broad, sweeping generalisation, what I’m realising is that the vast majority still feel trapped.
I don’t know what the answer is. As with most important things, it can’t be simple or immediate. But for me, the first step is to realise there is a struggle to be had, for those willing to undertake it. It has dawned on me that the only thing stopping me from making time for myself – is the idea that I can’t! So maybe my me-time occasionally will look like an hour or two spent at the computer in the late hours of the night, but more and more I want it to look like dedicated daytime hours spent developing my skills as a writer, editor and artist; spending time with my awesome group of girlfriends; going out for the occasional night of fun and relaxation. Oh – and of course, making precious time to meet with the God I serve, because that’s another thing that has fallen by the wayside.
It’s time. I may not have been much of a kitchen-type sister, but I am definitely emerging from the strictures of patriarchy to find myself in this brave new world of female liberation!