I was watching her movements. As my 80 year old grandma moved slowly but purposefully through my new kitchen and switched on the induction stove with quick moves I couldn't help but think that she has seen it all. As a child, she tells me, their home had a hearth with a hook where you could hang one pot at a time.
I love my fireplace, that cosy, relaxing feeling it gives. We don't need it, floor hearing et all, it is just a plus. She hates fireplaces because in her childhood that was all they had to cook and heat up the house, it meant dust and smoke. In less than 80 years she has gone from hearths to induction stoves, from post office carriages to emails and whatsapp. And she has embraced it all. No other generation will embrace so much development in such a short time.
They had very few choices and had time she says. We have a million choices daily now and we run around huffing and puffing and stressing because we have everything but we don't have time. We have invented a million things aimed at improving our quality of life and helping us to save time. And we end up with a lot less time than the days when cooking meant placing a pot on a hook.
I recently stumbled on a Forbes article that warned men from marrying career women. Don't marry them it warns, if they have a university degree and make more than 30 thousand dollars a year.
As idiotic as the article can be, it carries a tiny bit of truth.
The point is that marriage and family work best when one person is taking care of them full time. Duh. Everything in the world is best off when it is cared for very carefully. We should stop trying to deny this. It’s barking up the wrong tree.
There is little evidence that the role of housewife is any more frustrating than the role of housewife and careerist rolled into one.
The conclusion, that marriages and families work better with a full-time housewife, is hard to swallow but hard to deny. It’s just that not every woman wants to take care of a family and marriage full time, and even fewer men do. And increasingly few people want to give up almost all child-rearing responsibilities in order to be a single breadwinner.
Many people will say they’d rather face the challenges of a dual-career marriage than the challenge of a stay-at-home-spousedom. Even if the statistics are not in their favour.
I also still encourage men to marry whoever they want including career women.
However, four years in from balancing demanding working hours, two little kids and their schedules, and of course long work days of my husband, I wonder how much more can modern working couples squeeze themselves in an effort to achieve and not let go, while retaining some sporadic social life, time for themselves, for each other and for their kids.
These past few months have seen us in a major time squeeze.
Normally keen to keep in touch with family and friends and on top of our social life, in these past four months we had to let go. Dozens of unread messages, emails, SMS, unanswered invites. Anything of our private life that went beyond the kids, the renovation of the house and work was cancelled. It has been tough and intense. I have had to move or cancel work lunches to make the most of every minute of the day, cancel pretty much any activity with friends, go selfless 24hours a day every day. In the space of a few months we had to juggle the renovation of the new house, family trips and work trips, the packing and decluttering of the old house, the move, the mess of the unpacking, demanding family members, builders who seemed to get it wrong and forget agreed work and deadlines a bit too often, very long work hours packed with projects, deadlines and pressure, the kids and ourselves. Short nights, kids - and us, getting sick with the first seasonal flu, weekly meetings from 9pm to past midnight with architects, GC and builders, and so on. All this has made life very intense and all we could do was cut back on everything we could, push through and survive while getting the vital things done. Including making candles, organising a pirates birthday party, having a mini Xmas photo shoot, putting up the Xmas tree and baking muffins and biscuits. Once we moved to the new place in October we lived for three weeks with the builders in, with the dust and the mess and the noise they made and the dirty muddy shoes on the brand new parquet. They have now heard my thoughts on the above several times and surprisingly have finished their work and learnt to take their shoes off.
We knew this phase would come and we would need to be particularly fit to push through. We are in it and close to the end of the tunnel but what a ride? Exhausting.
We are both hard working devoted parents used to these stretches, we have help too, and still had to stretch our resilience muscles a fair bit.
As I look back and mentally plan for next year I realise that way too many families I know are in and out of the same stress and time squeeze and wonder how can we reverse time, do less, and enjoy more the time we are given?