Last week, I took part in the ‘Be Bold For Change’ initiative as part of International Women’s Day. Truth be told, I always feel somewhat ambivalent about International Women’s Day. After all, there isn’t an International Men’s Day and I suspect there would be general outrage if men suggested there was. But then again, if we look at what it means to be woman from a global perspective, then it is clear that as far as women’s rights go, there is still a job to be done.
But actually, in writing this it occurred to me that I don’t even have to look that far afield to spot that somehow there is still an imbalance, even in my own household.
I am a mother of two (step-mother of four), a wife, a businesswoman and the only child to a widowed mother. I am the personification of what it means to be part of the sandwich generation.
The words I probably use most when making a request are “sorry” or “can you do me a favour”. The word I want to use most but use the very least is “no”. That’s because somewhere in my mind, if I’m really honest, it’s because I undervalue myself.
In terms of hours, I work just as hard as my husband. Probably more so, because I juggle my work around family commitments, so will burn the candle at both ends. I’ll be on my laptop long before the kids get up and long after they’ve gone to bed. I make the packed lunches, co-ordinate the family’s social diary, organise childcare, change the cat litter, look after the household, buy the groceries, do the cooking and the list goes on.
To be fair, my husband doesn’t ask or expect this of me, but I do of myself. I want to be super mum and do all the ‘homey’ things that a mummy does, but I also want to be a kick-ass business woman because that is my hard-earned right as well. But it is difficult and at times nigh impossible to get the balance right.
I am not alone in this. I see it in my other female peers who in creating the perception of having it all end up doing it all. What’s the answer? I don’t know.
I know I have an amazing husband, who would happily do more in the house. But it’s me. I feel like I shouldn’t ask him to because if I do, I’m failing.
But the truth is if I don’t, I’m the one who’s failing because I’m not seeing myself as his equal. So from today, I am going to re-frame my way of thinking and OUR to-do list because if I don’t, there’s every danger that my daughters will inherit that way of being and thinking from me.
Be bold for change. To be equal, you have to think equal and that has to begin on our own doorstep.
Justina Perry is the Founder of MamaBabyBliss and a leading mother & baby expert in the UK.