Inspiration

Pledge for Parity? – Can someone tell my two year old?

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It was a crying shame, that the release of this year’s International Women’s Day theme came the same week my (almost) two year old daughter had gastro.  Normally this time of year I am inspired to see so much activity going on to celebrate the success of women in the workplace and encouragement for those rising up through the ranks.  

This year, however, happens to be my first year back at work after maternity leave and as I mulled over what the word ‘parity’ actually means at 3am changing the cot sheets for the 4th time , I wonder if what we’re asking for is realistic.  

For the week that she was sick my daughter didn’t want anyone except ‘mummy’ and on top of the usual bed bath and household chores, she clung to my side the entire time, even when my husband was offering cuddles and everything that I had to offer.  My husband run his own business and therefore has a bit more flexibility than I do in day to day schedule, my role requires a high degree of stakeholder engagements and program management, conference calls and meetings all day, every day.  But the little person looking up at me with sad eyes didn’t understand or care about any of this, she just wanted her mum and how do you balance that? You can have all the parity in the world within the workforce but sick kids often want their mum.  What ensued is a roller coaster week where I carried both roles, day and night, to the point where my pupils were wide with fear and adrenaline and my under eyes were daubed with purple semicircles.

A week on and I’m still recovering, it’s like I can’t get enough sleep to replace the energy that was consumed that week holding it all together.  It made me stop and reflect how much women and mothers in particular have to give of themselves in order to strive for something as mediocre as ‘parity’ in the workplace.  Annabel Crabb wrote a great book on how women really need a wife entitle ‘The Wife drought’, I happen to know a number of lucky women who have a wife and in most cases it’s as domestically blissful as you might imagine.

I got an insight into how it might work when my own mother came to stay recently, it was amazing, every night coming home to laundry folded, shopping done for dinner, child just coming out of the bath and a cold beer in the fridge (I’m not even kidding).  I joked to my husband that I wish I could have married my mother  (and no, the irony is not lost on me that I’m bemoaning my role as a mother whilst still receiving lots of support from my own!).

So in summary, this brings me full circle to this year’s pledge for parity IWD theme.  I am all for parity but someone needs to word up my daughter and we need to rewrite the job spec for ‘Mothers’, With the exception of my own mum who is definitely still required to help me with my errant child and ensuring there is a chilled beer in the fridge with my name on it at all times.  Now that’s the kind of parity I can get behind!

About Catriona Walkerden

Catriona Walkerden is a passionate writer and blogger on gender diversity and women in the workforce at Technofemme.com, She regularly contributes articles to Women’s agenda, FITT and others. Most other hours of the day are spent enjoying Melbourne life and taking care of little Miss Walkerden junior.

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