Thursday, November 29, 2012

changing expectations, culturally

My mind lately has been pulling itself back to the question of what it means to be a woman in the modern world. What we expect out of ourselves as human beings, women, wives, mothers and all. It's a hard question because so many conflicting things are expected of us, by virtue of being women. Every choice we make is a little bit heavier. Particularly lately I've been thinking about what it all means in terms of parenthood.

When babies eventually come, would I rather be a working mother or a stay at home mom? Actually having a choice in the matter is a pretty big luxury in and of itself, and I'm lucky in some ways in that I have some easy options both ways. If we can afford it, I have a husband who would support me staying at home past the end of government mandated maternity leave. If we can't, or I decide I want to be at work either way, I have access to free childcare. Let's be honest: free childcare is a huge deal. So going into motherhood I'm in a pretty privileged decision to make my choices.

I think about being a working mother though and I rather shudder. I just don't want to do all of that. Then I realized something that struck me as kind of strange. We expect a lot more out of our own parenting than we used to. As women have been climbing up the corporate ladder, chipping away at glass ceilings and just generally increasing our expectations on the work front, so have the expectations on the home front.

It's not enough to just have a happy, healthy kid anymore. Said kid also has to have music classes, and participate in sports and athletic activities. There's a lot more help with the homework expected, and chauffering each kid to an activity a day (pottery classes, piano lessons, soccer practice, French club, Girl Guides). In general parents (fathers as well as mothers) are expected to do a whole lot more with their children. Raising a well rounded child isn't enough, we need to coddle and cajole, and be a much bigger part of our children's lives.

It's backwards, you know? We have less time at home, to take care of the house and raise the kids. Yet we have bigger houses which take more maintainance, and we have increased the demands of childrearing, which takes its toll. There's less time to go around and we are supposed to do so much more of it. Of course it doesn't work as well as everyone would like it to.


  1. Free daycare?
    Wow you are lucky... but by that do you mean family support? Or does your state / employer subsidize it?
    And yeah, all those questions. It is hard. We work ever so hard to get a career that makes us happy (if that ever happens), and then you have to cope with finding a way to balancing it all with kids in the equation (when / if you want a family). I think that as soon as the kids can go to kindergarden / school it all becomes easier cause everyone goes out of the house in the morning. But those first few years, I can't really get around with the idea of not being there. So I am also figuring out ways / things that I could do to work from home (which most probably means starting a business). Hard stuff for sure.

    1. My mother in law runs a home daycare and has made it clear that we have free access to use her services when we're ready.

      I don't know about things becoming easier once they're in school. Certainly daytime would get easier, but the evenings have a tendency to get hectic with school aged children. All the activities (and I have some strong opinions on activities I want my children involved in) can start to take over life if you're not careful!

      Bunny and I have been going back and forth with what our options are for when we have babies, and it's interesting to see what ideas we like. Granted the circumstances may be very different when we get there!