Monday, November 10, 2008

Woman's work

This week I get to experience the thrill of single motherhood. I say this with a voice full of irony.

My dear husband, worn out from his “wife management” duties (his self-described job), has gone off on a holiday to recharge. He will be climbing up Mt. Mulanje starting today, then on Thursday will drive with friends to the Mozambican coast for swimming, diving, and copious consumption of rum-based drinks served in coconut shells. It’s a hard life.

One of the conditions of his release was that he arrange for childcare for Milo while he was away. And he did. Sort of. He found a woman to come Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, in the afternoons. Hmph. Not exactly what I meant by “find a nanny or else.” So poor Godfrey is watching Milo the rest of the time, while also taking care of the household chores.

To make it easier on Godfrey, I am doing as much of the housework as I can – that meant ironing for 3 hours over the weekend, doing the laundry, the diapers, the dishes…(Just like a common person!)

I know, I am not getting much sympathy from my fellow moms. Poor Gwyneth, she only has a part-time nanny and the housekeeper is so busy that she has to help out!

But it is tiring. I work hard all day, and even when Jorge is here, all the parenting falls to me once I get home. I appreciate that child care is a real job, so I understand why Jorge wants a break after 8 hours of being a full-time stay-at-home dad. But I work full-time too! And there’s no break for me. I work 24-7.

This seems to be the way for all the mothers I know, working or not. It always seems that the fathers get to take the evenings off, while the mothers never stop working. I read a study that backed this up once. It showed that working mothers, rather than getting to ease back on their household work, just added their office-work onto their existing workload. Whereas men spent about the same amount of time working and parenting whether or not they had a job outside the home.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband, and have nothing but appreciation for the hard work he does looking after Milo day after day. But I just wonder – when do I get my holiday?

Finally, Lex asked about the African reaction to Obama’s victory. I think that’s a whole other post, but the quick version is that people here were very happy with the result. The prevailing theme was that everyone was so impressed with American democracy, and McCain’s gracious concession of the election. The trend here is to dispute an election loss, loudly and vociferously, until you are at least granted a seat at the negotiating table. I think Africans took new hope in democracy this last week, and are particularly hopeful that Obama will institute favorable policies and aid toward Africa.

However, Jorge thinks many Malawians actually believe that Obama was born and raised in an African village, and that they are mostly just hopeful for their own presidential prospects.

If you want to see some photos and stories about how the expats in Malawi celebrated the election, check out my friends Emily and Amy’s blogs.


Lex said...

Thank-you I feel satisfied by your Obama tidbits.
Now I want you to feature my blog in you blog sometime soon.;)

Tina said...

Your husband is such a latino!!! WTF! You guys were on vacation for like 6 months...what a weenie! Your vacation starts in 17.5 years...have fun!

Dad said...

The "Nation" front page in Amy's blog is a much more interesting election souvenir than those of the Times and Post Intelligencer that Joan saved.

Joy H said...

It's amazing what moms can do when they have to. When Chris went on vacation I had no housekeeper, no part-time nanny, and TWO kids.

But I hear it does get easier eventually. You'll probably get a chance to catch your breath once your youngest hits elementary school.

jcelestelay said...

I hear you! Chris is awesome, but he generally has to be told what to do, which can be just as exhausting as doing it myself. He does ten times more than my dad ever did, though. I don't know how women do it. I haven't figured it out yet. Lucy is nearly five months old and I'm seriously struggling with balancing work and kid.