Wednesday, 24 August 2011

How to be a WOMAN

If you haven't read 'How to be a woman' by Caitlin Moran, then you should. She manages to perfectly articulate my feelings on motherhood as well as a number of other feminist issues. I have spent my whole time reading it going 'Ha ha, sooooo funny. But seriously. Nail. On. Head'.

Anyway, it has got me thinking a little deeper about the parts of being a woman I am uncomfortable with and I wanted to share them with you.

  • This housewife business.
We recently got a cleaner. O M G the guilt I feel. We didn't have a cleaner when I was growing up. My Mum worked full time, raised two kids, did EVERYTHING for my Dad (we are talking 1920s style breakfast on table, packed lunch made, dinner ready upon homecoming) and still managed to keep our house immaculate. And NEVER complained. So when Shaun and I both worked full time and he wanted a cleaner I said 'No, my Mum never had a cleaner'. And when we had Will I said 'No, my Mum worked and never had a cleaner'. And then I fell pregnant again and was pretty sure no-one had ever, ever been as tired as I felt. So we got a cleaner. Once a week she comes and makes my house immaculate for me. Cleaner than it ever was when it was my job! And it has changed my world. I am on top of the laundry for the first time since Will came along. I have more time to play with him and I enjoy that time because I am not thinking about what I could be doing instead. I nap when he naps and so the fetus is feeling the benefit too.

But jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzz I hate myself for it. My sister said 'do you really need a cleaner if you don't work?'. Now she doesn't have children so she doesn't understand how much work not working is. But I can't help but feel she has a point. I mean, I am at home all day. How can I possibly not have the time to clean?

  • This marriage business
Now as you probably know from my smug post, Shaun and I are engaged. Betrothed. To be married. Why are you not married already? I hear you cry. Well, we wanted children. Marriage was just a box that people ticked; we didn't really see the point and we were keen to start trying for our family just in case it took a while. We were very lucky and it didn't so here we are with a 15 month old and a baby on the way.
Now, I always loved the idea of a wedding. Being the centre of attention. Wearing the beautiful dress. Having the stunning cake. Dancing the night away, high on pure love. But the marriage part of it I didn't get. A piece of paper (an expensive one at that). A religious ceremony (we don't believe in God). A commitment (we have A CHILD, if he isn't committed to me already then we are in trouble). Proving to other people or our children that we are committed (In the nicest possible way, I have NOTHING to prove to any of you).

But then I had Will. And I wanted the marriage part of it. And then we found out he was partially deaf. And I needed that extra something from Shaun. As any parent will tell you, the first few months of your first new born baby's life puts your relationship through the biggest challenges. I don't know if having a disabled child is any harder than a normal one but I can tell you that those first few months both brought Shaun and I together and pushed us apart in ways I didn't think possible. Then we lost our second pregnancy in a miscarriage. In the midst of the physical pain and the emotional anguish, all I could think was 'I want to get married, I need to know Shaun will love me through this'.

Now this annoys me. Because my rational head is screaming 'but there is NO POINT. You KNOW he loves you. You KNOW he wants to be together forever. You KNOW getting married won't change that' but my stupid emotional head is crying back 'But I waaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnt toooooooooooo'.

Also, a big old piece of beef I have with the marriage thing, is
  • This proposal business
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my diamond ring. And I LOVE regaling the story of how Shaun proposed on the beach, sun shining, down on one knee, ra ra ra. What gets me is that it was HIS choice. Before we had children I asked him to marry me. I'm still not sure if I was serious or not, I just wanted to see what he would say. He said no, I want to propose. It was really important for him to propose and to do it right which I get but I don't get why? Why has he been made to feel (by society, culture, tradition...) that it is his role to ask me. He knows I wanted to get married, he knows I know he wants to get married. So why couldn't we just decide to get married? Why does he have the POWER? Why, as a woman, did I just have to wait? 

I have no answers, just more questions.

What do you think about it all? Are you comfortable with your role as a woman, whatever that may be?


  1. I don't think much about my role as a woman except that I feel fortunate to live in a country where my rights are not infringed by my gender.

    I generally feel that I have the right to make my own choices in life, which I have done and continue to do. I appreciate this a lot.

    By choice I have no children but I do have a cleaner and a marriage. Here's my feelings/experience on those elements of my daily life...

    I love our cleaner. It's not necessary for us to have a cleaner. It's a luxury. A luxury that I appreciate. I want my kitchen, bathroom and wooden floors cleaned every week. If it were down to us to do it I know that realistically we'd not do it all EVERY week. So we pay a lovely local lady named Esther to clean for us. I feel no guilt about this. I'm just happy that we're in a position to afford this luxury. We work hard and have worked hard to get where we are so I feel that we deserve it.

    Some people do just decide to get married. We did. He drunkenly told me he'd like to one night sometime in 2008. I was surprised (even shocked) by the revelation but after some thought I agreed that one day I would marry him and he said that one day he would ask. Then months later I broached the subject in bed one Sunday morning. I said "I think we should get married before we go travelling" (we were due to leave the uk in 8 weeks). He grinned insanely and replied. "I was thinking the same thing". So 6 weeks later we were married. Again (similar to the cleaner), we didn't need to get married but it was something that we both grew to want. At first I was a bit shy replying to people when they asked how he proposed: there was no proposal as such. It felt somehow like I had missed out. Then I quickly realised that I didn't miss out. I'm really happy with how we came to be engaged. It felt very right and personal for us at the time and on reflection it was very "us". And I love "us".

    p.s. our cleaner also changes the bed linen and towels, puts the used ones into wash & hangs them up to dry before leaving. I love it. It's like having (weekly) room service in a hotel. That was my genius idea to make the luxury that little bit more.


  2. A bit like how by tradition, it's the man's perogative to choose to ask and you have to wait, it bothers me that I have to change my surname or end up with a different one to the rest of my family.

    We were already married when we had our baby but I never took my husband's suname. However, our son gets my husband's last name almost automatically.

    Essentially I'm OK with it and as there doesn't seem to be a neat way to resolve the problem, we gave him my surname as an extra middle name. But it still doesn't seem entirely fair.

    (we could've gone double-barrelled but what happens when he has kids with a woman who also wants to keep her name? Or he could have had my surname but that seems a bit odd even to me).

    What's in a name? Maybe nothing but most men will never have to choose between their "own" name or their kid's one.

  3. Thanks for your comment. I completely agree. Our son has my last name as a middle name, we didn't fancy double barreled either. It's a different world for men and women and I just don't think people give it enough thought!