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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Do we all aspire to be stepford wives?



Life is getting more and more stressful. We all want more. Gone are the days that women stay at home and look after the kids whilst the husband goes to work. Families simply cannot afford for one parent to stay at home. Even if we could, would we want to?
Incredibly, there is only a 1% difference between mothers who work and women without children who work. The media praise women who balance work, being a mother and still manage to look perfect. We are told that this is achievable.
I am a 30 something working mum. The majority of my friends are in the same situation. Our days are stressful, a constant juggling act. It starts with simply getting out the house, a challenge in itself. Getting you and your kids ready, fed and out the door to child care/school and manage to be at your desk full of beans on time is exhausting. The day consists of the same stresses as any job, along with a nagging guilt that someone else is bringing up your kids. Always conscious that the phone may ring telling you that your child is sick and you need to pick them up, knowing that you will get the dis-approving looks of your colleagues who are male or don't have kids. Guilt again. We then feel that we need to prove to our colleagues that we work just as hard, or even harder by putting in a few extra hours at home. This is normally after we have spent "quality time" with your children, fed, bathed and put them to bed. On top of this we need to make sure that we are keeping our partner happy and not neglecting their needs. Phew exhausting! It doesn't end there. Women have an inability to say no, unlike men. A man will simply say no to something if they feel that they are over committing, or simply do not want to do it. Women will not. We like to please. This could mean meeting for coffee with friends, or attending that local yoga class that your friend is desperate to go to, but won't on their own. Something as pleasant has meeting for a chat or drink with a friend can end up being a chore and an extra stress.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why have we created a nation of exhausted women? I can't answer that. I can only look around and see that it is not just me. In fact I am the norm. I live in a small village, my closest friends have energy like I have never seen. They work, have kids, are involved in charity, exercise regularly, entertain, cook, help their kids with a list of extra circular activities, sew, bake and have immaculate houses. I couldn't get my head around how, the truth is they are permanently exhausted and rarely go to bed before 1 or 2 am. They are stressed and fragile. Something is close to breaking. My other group of friends are women I met during pregnancy. They are the most well presented women you will ever meet. They are perfectly groomed on every occasion. They all have amazing careers and kids under the age of two. Most of the babies are turning two at the moment, so it is party time. These women seem to find the time to host the most amazing kids parties with games, party bags and cakes that could pass as being professional.
I would love to conclude with a cliche summary, saying that we need to love ourselves more and accept that we are not perfect and simply cannot do everything, but it is not reality. I think deep down many women get a buzz from this frantic lifestyle, but I do ask myself if in 30 years time I will look back and regret not enjoying simple pleasures and be content with an over complicated lifestyle, but I guess only time will tell. 

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