Has the pendulum swung the other way?

Or rather, be careful what you wish for! 

Equality. What is that anyway? 

Lately, I’ve been pondering this not insubstantial question. 

I have a son and a daughter. They are very close in age, only 9 and 8 respectively. I like to think I treat them equally and in society we no longer pin hopes of greatness on the boy, while merely expecting a good marriage from the girl. I (try to) teach them both how to cook and tidy up after themselves. They both get the same exposure to fixing punctures, bodging in the tool shed and growing vegetables. They see both their Mother and Father go to work every morning and we teach our daughter to be grateful to all the women who have fought for equality and for her right to have a career, a vote, to be a mother and to be able to do with her life whatever she chooses. 

But here’s the catch… can she really have it all? Can any of us? 

I am full of gratitude that we live in a free society and that I can choose how I live my life. But I have been taught to expect to be able to do everything, not to choose one thing. I expect myself to be a mother, a provider, a home maker, to have a career, to be beautiful and youthful looking and to be practically perfect in every way, as Mary Poppins put it. 

Inevitably, trying to juggle all these elements at once can lead to failures, disappointments, feeling inadequate, powerless, losing your way. Could these feelings echo how women felt before ‘equality’? Maybe what women really wanted was some respect, which has become confused with equality. So have we really solved the problem here or has the pendulum swung the other way? 

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer. These are just musings as I multitask my way through the week. What I will pass on to my daughter though is the thought that it is ok to ask for help, to concentrate on what you enjoy and are good at and not to berate yourself for not being good at everything (because who is?), to delegate and to say ‘no thanks’ to anything that she doesn’t want to do. Because whatever you do in life, only women can carry children and therein lies the inequality, which, perhaps we should celebrate rather than load with expectations, stress and pressure.

Having clarified that, I should have a taste of my own medicine!


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