Women, Jobs and Babies

Even with a fantastic husband, the burden of care of our baby is on me.

I never thought too much about feminism until I had a baby. I was, and remain grateful to the women pioneers who enabled me to vote, work and be independent.

Simone de Beauvoir believed that the two keys for safeguarding women’s freedom are paid work and contraception. (Deborah G. Felder’s analysis in A Bookshelf of Our Own p.137)

But now that I’m a mama I’m feeling the burden of being “allowed” to work. It’s expected. It’s necessary for our economic survival.

There hasn’t yet been a shift in the balance of responsibility for children.

I will still be the main caregiver.

I must somehow get up to him in the middle of the night, get up early, get him ready, work, get him through the evening grumps until his bedtime and somehow fit in some housework! (Never mind any hobbies – how I miss reading for longer than 10 minute stints!)

All while having chronic pain and fatigue – that is aggravated by my work.
I’m somewhat lucky, in that I am currently contracting and can earn (just) enough to enable me to work 20-25 hours. But full time would be ideal in helping to pay down a mortgage that’s had three interest rate rises this year.

Unfortunately I can’t physically cope with full time work. This is something my husband struggles with in living with me and the fibro/chronic fatigue.

The current circumstances are hard enough for me physically – my husband working 10 hour shifts, coming home exhausted, and me with our baby nearly 24/7.

In addition to this, there is an expectation that women breastfeed until baby is six or even 12 months.

Where are we to get the energy from? How are we to exercise? See friends? Pursue a hobby?

I have no answers. But this superwoman expectation is ridiculous.

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