This arrangement, of me working outside the home (even though it's only two days a week), thus stepping into my husband's shoes for a bit, and my husband stepping into my shoes, does not work well. At all. With our best intentions, and knowing that we are doing what must be done at the moment, it can be kept for a limited amount of time. But in the long run, it doesn't work. Men are meant to work outside the home while women keep the gates and hearths and bear and raise children. This has been the way since the beginning of time, and all attempts of finding an alternative arrangement brought nothing to our society but confusion, dissatisfaction and disruption.
You have been so amazingly supportive. I have piles upon piles of emails I want to answer, and will hopefully answer soon, as time allows. For now, I would like to say thank you again to those who have taken the time to write and express their encouragement.
Some voices suggested that now, I will have to be more sympathetic to wives and mothers who must work outside the home. Well, if you read my previous posts carefully, you will see that I have always been very sympathetic towards women who are forced to work, but truly have their hearts at home. Actually, I believe I wrote at least a few times that truly ambitious women with glorious careers are few and far between. Much more often, women occupy the positions of cashiers, secretaries, kindergarten teachers, saleswomen, and other jobs which are low-paying and not very intellectually challenging. They end up doing these jobs not because they are oppressed, but because they are not very ambitious but are still expected to do "something". Many of those women count the hours until they can go home to their families and children, and would like nothing better than to stay at home full-time – something they cannot do, or think they cannot do, because of true or perceived financial necessity, and because all of us who were educated in the public school system have been indoctrinated that we must bring in a paycheck to be worth something.
There is also social pressure. Not long ago, someone I know admitted to me that one of her daughters-in-law doesn't work outside the home because she is pregnant and has several other children to take care of. She sounded very embarrassed, and apparently, expected me to see this as something very strange and unacceptable. She was obviously very relieved when I didn't. The social pressure to "go out and do something" is high, and I was always aware of it, and I could never feel anything but sympathy for the average woman, whom I see as the victim of ideals promoted by those few who truly have the ambition, motivation, desire and right circumstances to be happy with their lives centered around their work.
The majority of women want to be good wives and mothers. That's our primary calling. And that's natural and good, as the majority of us are or will be married, and the majority of those who marry will have children. Please note that I'm talking about social trends here. I realize that someone can always say, "I have never been married and don't desire to" or "I never had a passion for anything but work." The fact remains that most women will marry and have families, and these families will need good homes and orderly lives, something only a dedicated wife can provide.
Working outside the home does not diminish a woman's desire to have an orderly home and happy, well cared for children. That's precisely the conflict we were landed with ever since we bought into the myths of "women's liberation". Of course it's impossible to have it all and do it all, and stay sane. I have always found it very unfair that women are, essentially, forced to do way too much. Someone invented this myth, which is ridiculous when you think about it, that we can be away from home for an entire day and our home life won't suffer. Personally, after a day at work I have hardly any energy left for my home. The vitality of the best part of my day is drained away from me. Some told me that it's all "a matter of attitude". Of course it is. I can never feel the same way about working outside the home as I do when I work in my home.
Some claim that it could all work - if only men agreed to play their part of the game. Both spouses work the same number of hours outside the home, both do an equal share of the housework and childcare. But practically, most men will still work longer hours, if only because men are naturally more ambitious and more inclined to choose the more challenging and demanding jobs. Men are also less inclined towards domesticity. I'm not saying this as an excuse for men to do nothing around the house when their help is really and truly needed – I fully believe husbands can and should step up to the plate in emergency cases, to help out, to extend kindness to their wives. But guess what? When my husband is at home alone for a day, it's not like he becomes the homemaker. It's not in his nature. He's a great help, but he won't do things like straightening the cushions or ironing. He's not a nester like I am, and he isn't supposed to be. I can moan about it, or I can accept it. I choose to accept it, and work and carefully plan towards the day when each of us fully embraces what we were meant to do.