Work-Life Balance: The Peaceful Revolution

Moms Rising and The Huffington Post have teamed up to create a new blog focused on work-life balance. Looks interesting. Of course, a “peaceful” revolution sounds good, nice and tame, but I have my doubts. Or my frustrations, actually. It seems to me that the problems mothers face at work link to deeper cultural issues we have as a society about family networks, work, productivity, women, etc. For a true revolution, we need a real overhaul – and that kind of thing usually doesn’t happen peacefully.

A working mother friend of mine sent me a link to that ‘what wives need is wives of their own’ article that came out in August, and our consequent discussion about how even the nicest husbands still don’t do the fundamental toilet-scrubbing, clothes-monitoring, tedious domestic crap that wives tend to do (mostly because they know it needs doing) was a bit tense. Life must continue. We can’t abdicate our responsibilities in protest. We can only have so many battles with spouses (and bosses, etc.) to try and gain equality in the large and small tasks of our lives.

I’m re-reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, a story about two “Free Women” who never remarried after their divorces – in the 70s – and it’s interesting to think about how different their struggles are to define themselves in a different era, “free” from the traditional structures…

I guess I feel like my generation is trying to do everything – we want to be “free” but we want family, too – we have all this feminist background – even if we don’t call ourselves feminists – it’s not that we want to be superwomen – we just want a healthy normality –

I look directly at my mother in law – who does everything for her husband, and bitches at him for not knowing how to do anything, but then never requires him to fend for himself – a vicious cycle that has turned her bitter and vicious. She’s the same way with my husband – she does everything for him when we visit, but then lambasts him for being helpless – I’m not trying to blame her, but her seething anger about the role she plays – and refuses to vacate – is suffocating. And it means that there’s a lot of work for us to do emotionally around our domestic life. I don’t want to become her – I don’t want to grow old with resentment because of the choices I make – or feel I was forced to make. This is what I want to be free from.

Anyway – just my rambling, disorganized thoughts. Domestic life and work life and social life – sometimes figuring out the balance within each and between each, how we define ourselves and each other, within them – it’s not as easy as just meeting deadlines and picking up the kids on time (not that that is easy!)…

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4 Responses to Work-Life Balance: The Peaceful Revolution

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Intersting article on wives. I would love one!! Ha! She brings up some really good points.

    Seriously, I think we (as women) have come a long way, but there is still such a long way to go. Even though (some) men realize that there are responsibilities that go along with being part of a household it is still not a balanced division of labor. Hopefully it will get to that point one day but I don’t think I’ll be around to see it. I really think it will take that long.

    Elizabeth

  2. Peg says:

    Do you know the classic piece of feminist humor “Why I Want a Wife” by Judy Syfers, 1971? It first appeared in the premier issue of Ms. Magazine and was widely circulated in the women’s movement. It’s very short; you can read it on the CWLU Herstory Project site (http://www.cwluherstory.org/why-i-want-a-wife.html).

  3. Peg says:

    Tried to leave this comment before; maybe something’s wrong. Anyhow. The article you mention is probably based on Judy Syfers’ Why I Want a Wife, 1971, a classic piece of feminist humor that appeared in the premier issue of Ms. Magazine and was widely circulated in the women’s movement. It’s online, a short read, at the CWLU Herstory Project. I’d include the link, but maybe that’s what went wrong last time, if reader’s are interested.

  4. Emily says:

    I am a woman with a wife and, I must say, it’s the most amazing relationship in the world! I think every woman should try it 🙂 Seriously, though…I think the balance can be achieved in any relationship as long as you look at it as a partnership & have very open & honest communication. I know that’s so cliche, but it’s really true. I must admit, though, that I think it’s easier to do that with another woman than a man (yes, I know from experience).

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