Now that I’m home and the little one has started school, I often wonder how I could possibly be a good mother if I was still working full-time. I’m quite certain I would forget to pack her lunch some days, and on the days she would be lucky enough to have lunch, it would probably be a cheese sandwich all the time. But now, everything’s been explained: according to a recent Captivate Network survey, men are happier at work because they take more breaks during the day for things like smoking, exercise and sex!
First of all, SEX breaks? Wow, must be nice to have someone on call for that whenever you feel like you need a break. Secondly, BREAKS? I recall putting my head down the minute I walked into my office at 8:00, and not coming up for air until 5:00, at which point I had to run out to get dinner on the table at home. No water cooler chats, no lunch breaks. I dreaded whenever someone walked into my office to “chat”; all I could think about while they rambled on was how much I could be getting done if they would just leave me alone. Anti-social? You bet. How else was I going to get the work done at the office, and then go home and get the second job done?
I was a bit infuriated when I first read an article by Leah Eichler in The Globe and Mail deriding society for portraying work-life balance as only a woman’s issue because it diminished women’s credibility in the workplace. I would agree with this point of view if society didn’t expect women to bear children and be responsible for much of the day-to-day management of households. There is no question that men have become more involved and invested in child-rearing over the past couple of decades and have unloaded some of the domestic burden off women – this is highly commendable. I can’t imagine how women did it before without this support.
But when I see readers’ comments to this story, like those from a gentleman who seethes: “Maybe the men are not doing the vacuuming but are the women mowing the lawn or doing house maintenance? Who digs the garden in the spring and fall?”, it’s clear that some men are missing the point and that we still have a long way to go. In a television interview once, I heard the perfect example of how a disconnect exists on the issue of co-parenting. Men think they are co-parenting because they now change diapers, but rarely do they know when the household is running out of diapers.
I agree that work-life balance is not just a woman’s issue. Overall, employers worldwide are slowly burning out their workers, male and female, and that is not good for productivity and profitability over time. But women advocate for the issue of work-life balance more, because the lack of it hurts them – dare I suggest – significantly more. It’s true that we all have to make choices and live with the consequences (like all you Torontonians who voted for Rob Ford – ha!), but as long as society expects women to do it all and tells them they can have it all, then we all have a responsibility to make those consequences palatable and livable.