I’m 37 years old this year, and have a growing family and business, and before that, a satisfying and often successful career. But something that’s bugged me for a while is that, as women, we don’t talk about how we can practically have those things.
The way I’ve done it is by realising I have LIMITED energy. I know so many women who take on the majority of domestic chores in their house. We’ve been conditioned to think that it’s the right thing to do. I have often felt subtle disapproval for my refusal to do domestic chores but I’ve chosen this because I know that human beings have limited decision-making capacity and just energy generally. That’s why men were able to succeed for so long. Before the seventies, in the west, men generally didn’t have to deal with raising children, cooking and cleaning. That was a fulltime job reserved almost exclusively for their wives. In societies like SA it was a job reserved for a small army of helpers and nannies.
For me to create the life I wanted and the space to do the work that brings me joy while also having a beautiful home and family, I recognised the very limited time and energy constraints one person must face. I then recognised I need help, and to get it ethically by paying my helper very well and treating her with dignity and getting additional help as needed. (Of course I acknowledge my privilege in even being able to do this: many women do not have these options or resources).
It also meant finding a partner in Luke who holds the same values and who absolutely commits to sharing the domestic chores we must do ourselves 50/50. Luke has never made me feel like I should be doing more than 50% of our shared household labour and in fact, often does more than his share.
I say all this not because we’ve got it figured out – we haven’t – but because I get sad at the number of talented women I know who are either exhausted trying to do too much out of some misguided notion that it’s the right thing to do, or whose talents and careers have taken a major backseat to their husbands.
Sometimes, creating space in the world for you to flourish as a women means saying no to certain rules. And you can be as polite as you like about it but know you will be met with resistance and disapproval. And you have to be ok with that.