I have a recurring work fantasy. But it’s incredibly mundane – no steamy sex on the boardroom table or surprise massive bonus. My ultimate work dream is to be able to work a full day uninterrupted, knowing my husband is responsible for school drop off, pick up, afternoon snacks and dinner.
But that’s impossible. Although my spouse would gladly help out more at home if he could, he’s Primary Breadwinner; locked into the demands of a full-time role with a long commute and regular travel. This leaves me in charge of the domestic front, balancing my position as primary carer of our two children (aged 10 and 6) with a variety of freelance jobs.
Our household division of labour is the unintended product of countless choices we’ve made over the last decade. On their own, each decision (such as me not returning to my old job after the arrival of our second child) didn’t seem particularly ground-breaking. But their cumulative impact has been monumental: I was recently horrified to realise I’ve become financially dependent on a man.
“He is your husband, you know” a friend gently chided when I shared my dismay. This is true – and he’s always at pains to point out that it’s ‘our’ money – but that’s not the point. There’s a bigger issue than what’s taking place in our little microcosm of family life.
My generation was raised to believe that being female was no barrier to achieving our dreams. “Anything boys can do, girls can do better,” I’d taunt my brother when we were kids. We girls would have it all: education, career, family.