Have been reading Helen Garner’s Everywhere I look – she is an awesome writer. She has that ability to bring meaning to the everyday and make the individual experience, universal. Anyway, I was reading a piece she’d written about the author Raimond Gaita last night and she wrote about how Gaita’s mother had been unable to do ‘the work of a wife and mother’. Somehow this line really struck me. The work of a wife and mother.
Speaking as one who has embraced the work of a wife and mother over the past year (along with my writing), it strikes me that this work is invisible – until it’s not there.
And there are no cosmic points for doing it well or conversely penalties for doing it badly. It’s just this great mass of unpaid, labor of love which leaves women of a certain age on the employment scrap heap. Sure, some women keep working but mostly part-time because it’s what they want to do for the benefit of their families. But at what personal cost?
Your Dad once suggested that true equality could be achieved by stay-at-home Mums being paid for their work. Imagine how much it would take to pay someone to come in and look after your children, clean your house, do your laundry and cook your meals? And the country (men) would be in an uproar – why pay someone to do what women ‘happily’ do for free!
Ironically enough I just received an email from a friend who said:
‘It’s unbelievable what I have to do just to go away for one night! Cooking food to take, dropping off dog, making sure cat and rabbit will have enough food while we’re gone, buying gift for my new great niece who I will get to see etc etc. I’m still doing dishes from my cooking.’
I love the addition of the gift for the new baby niece – this is the sort of ‘wife’ work that a man would never think of.
And the OverAchiever just returned home from playing footy all day to report that she has a plastic bag filled with shoes and jumper decorated with dog poo! She can’t possibly deal with it because she’s exhausted from footy. Hmm, so whose job might that be?
Okay to be fair, I’ve thrown the jumper in the wash and your Dad has agreed to handle the shoes.
End of feminist rant!
Go grrl! Mum xoxoxo