I'm not a superwoman. Perhaps there are women out there who work full-time outside the home, and whose homes are still clean and immaculate and who put three good homemade meals on the table every day. I know in many cases it's a façade of having it all, which is hiding severe burn-out and incapability to spend time with family. Perhaps for some it does work and it's all peachy. I know I could never do that, and there's no shame in it.
A more realistic picture, in my opinion, would be that of a woman who works because she has to, doesn't like it much, but does the best she can with what she has. If it's you, my heart goes out to you. It's beyond difficult, and there is always a price. What annoys me is the insistence that no, there is no price and women can juggle it all with no adverse effects to their peace of mind, their home life, or their family.
In the land of idealistic egalitarianism, both spouses work the same number of hours and spend the same amount of time on childcare and household chores. But in real life, it rarely works. Feminists can shout themselves hoarse about how unfair it is that their ideals don't work because men aren't prepared to pull their share of "the second shift", but personally, what interests me more is the situation in real life, and in real life, egalitarian job division doesn't work. Does tradition play a part in it? For sure, but it's not all.
Men and women are simply wired differently. The Almighty made us differently. Women are more inclined to take care of the home, a perfectly healthy and natural instinct of a nesting mother. Even if the number of good homemakers has dramatically declined, it doesn't mean women now feel comfortable in neglected surroundings.
If my husband has to stay alone with Shira for a few hours, he won't be inclined to multitask around the house and do whatever needs to be done. He is willing to help out if it is needed, but the home is mainly my territory and will remain so even if I busy myself elsewhere. Women nest, men usually don't. Women, generally, have more patience with the countless mundane details of family life. We can tear our hair out because of it and say it's a despicable notion that must be eradicated at all costs. Or we can adapt ourselves to reality.
Yes, we can learn to live with how the Almighty made us, and have a beautiful life once we have achieved a sense of peace about the fact that men are men, women are women, and we are differently suited for different tasks, and there's nothing wrong with delegating what must be done to the one who will do it better.
Feminists can boast that women now comprise half of the work force, but men are still in the overwhelming majority of top-rank jobs. That's because even though families have fallen in the trap of the second income, as a rule, wives choose positions that are more about communication, not competition. Around here at least, it's common for women to be teachers, nurses and secretaries. Women choose jobs that are less competitive, that might allow them to work part time, that are close to home. No wonder so many of them earn so little compared to their husbands. The wage gap is not a patriarchal creation. It's a result of the natural inclinations of men and women.
You can give a woman scholarships and tell her how talented she is and how she should advance herself for her own benefit and for the good of the community. You can't stop her doing whatever she can to make her home life at least bearable, which for many means taking a job that will be more family friendly. I know so many, who have acquired lofty degrees, and a couple of years later, have re-trained as teachers to get more flexibility and more time off.
"It's a good job for a mother", I have heard people say in disdain in such cases. What they truly mean to say is "We understand it's a dead-end job that she's taking to have more time for her family. Her career has ended. What a pity." But truthfully, I doubt there is a job that is "good for a mother", unless we're talking of the primary mission of wifehood, motherhood and homemaking.
I'm convinced: some rational thinking, a re-forming of priorities, a doable effort – and many women can come home. The homecoming revolution might start with those who earn significantly less than their husbands and who don't find particular interest in their jobs. If they will return home, it will create a vibrant community of homemakers which will make it easier and more acceptable for other women to come home as well. Just think how wonderful it can be for all women who have a heart for home.