This was a fascinating article.
For those of you who are too lazy to click on the article, it basically discusses how the trend of women's increasing presence in the workplace has tapered off in recent years. When women first started entering the workforce, they re-organized their lives with time-saving devices and time-budgeting techniques, so that they could make the time to work. But there is only so much rearranging that can be done before a plateau is reached, and something has to give.
The first thing that struck me about this article was that it seemed to echo some thoughts I have been having myself, lately. We tell our daughters that they can do whatever their heart's desire, and we are right to do so. I don't believe that there should be external limitations on what anyone can do according to what sort of genitalia they have. But we are doing them an injustice if we don't tell them the whole truth. How do we teach our daughters that they are wonderful and valuable, while at the same time preparing them for the reality of how difficult it is to be a full-time mother and keep a full-time job at the same time?
Perhaps if we valued the work of parenting more as a culture, our girls wouldn't grow up with the pre-conceived idea that they have somehow failed if they end up as "just a mother". Little girls love playing "mom" - it's a natural instinct. But somehow, we are taught to suppress that desire and dream about "real" careers, instead. By the time we've reached high school, we have given up on our mommy dreams and scoff at the dumb kids who take the parenting class instead of the real courses that will get them into college. So we set our path towards our career goals, and we work diligently towards them, and then one day we find ourselves actually doing the math and realizing that we really can't accomplish all of those career goals before having kids if we still want to be fertile when we have them. And when I say "we", I mean "me".
I think I should have the following conversation with my hypothetical daughter on some momentous girlhood occasion, like turning 13 or getting her first period:
"Eowyn,* do you remember when you were 7 and I talked to you about boys? You thought they were icky, but I told you that one day you would like them. I know you didn't believe me then, but I've seen all of the "I <3 Aragorn" doodles on your day planner, so I know you believe me now. Well, I know you think that being a mom is boring and that it's not a "real" job, but one day, your ovaries will start yelling at you to have kids and you'll want it more than anything in the world. I know you don't believe me now, but one day you will, and I don't want you to be as surprised as I was."
Perhaps part of the problem is that women's increasing desire to enter the workforce hasn't been complemented by an equally increasing male desire to be involved in housework. I remember reading a statistic in law school that women, on average, regardless of how many hours they work outside of the home, spend twice as much of their free time on housework as men. (I really wish I had the source for that, now, but then again, this isn't a scholarly paper, so it's not like you can dock me marks, right?) Now, I know there are some fantastic men out there who contribute as much or more to the household chores as their wives. I know there are some SAHF's who have devoted their lives to the work of a parent. But that makes my undocumented statistic all the more sad, because it means that even with those guys bringing the curve up, the rest of them are bringing it all the more down.
Now, I'm not here to complain. I'm just observing. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this.
* Come on, I know I will never get away with naming my real daughters Rohirric names, so let me do it with my hypothetical ones, okay?
P.S. As a reward for reading all the way to the bottom of this post, I have a special treat for you. We have good news: Jeremy got a job today! Hooray!