It was 5:30pm, and Phoebe couldn’t wait to escape the chaos of the newsroom. Like every other day, she had left her home quite early with her kids; traveled several hours in a crowded bus; dropped the kids off at school some few minutes before 8:00am, and then rushed on to attend a press conference. As she breezed into the office to write and submit her news report around 4:00pm, she was called into an urgent meeting with the Head of News. She couldn’t hide her frustration, knowing how meetings in the newsroom drag on endlessly. She had to pick the kids before 6 o’clock bus; otherwise, she would pay extra fee for a cab.
Somehow, she managed to finish her report, attended the meeting and got to her children’s school a few minutes before 6:00. She had to forgo buying groceries in order not to miss the bus. Eventually, they made it home on time for dinner and she quickly dashed to the kitchen to prepare the meal while the children busied themselves with their homework. In no time the food was ready. But at the dinning, the children complained about the quality of the meal.
“Mom, I have told you that I don’t like potatoes chips and chicken.” Kyle, the younger of the two kids, growled.
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry!” she replied. “But you know there was no time to get the groceries. Let’s just make do with this, and I assure you that you will definitely get your –” interrupting her, Kyle began to cry as Dan, the elder quietly walked away from the table; he had also complained about the potato chips and chicken before. Kyle followed his brother, muttering under his breath.
Phoebe felt tired and deflated. She didn’t even try to persuade the kids to come back to the table as she had lost appetite herself. Yet, she knew she needed to convince them to eat some of the food at least, or make an alternative meal for them so that they don’t go to bed hungry. Her head ached for want of sleep, but there was still so much to do: she had to do a feature story for an online newspaper which she freelanced for, and submit before 6:00am. She also had to take the dog out for a walk, dispose of the refuse and prepare the children for school on time the next day.
Overwhelmed by all she had to do, she picked up the phone and called her husband, Joseph, who was on a business trip, “Darling, I’m tired! I can’t do these all by myself! I can’t cope with all these!” she wept.
Sounds familiar? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation where you were overwhelmed with work a Phoebe? Well, such is the life of a woman nowadays. Beyond her traditional gender roles of raising children and homemaking, today’s woman has become a shared breadwinner of the family (the one that “brings home the bacon”), while the woman was the homemaker and caregiver for the children, but times have changed. Now, the man is no longer the sole provider of the family’s income stream. His being the breadwinner – the sole provider of the family’s income – is no longer a choice, especially in these hard and trying times. The unstable job market and the globalized economy crunch forcing more families to rely on more than one income source, changes in family structure with more and more single-parent households, and the practicality of having one parent stay at home and care for the children have ensured that the woman has a whole lot of added responsibilities.
Besides, the clamour for gender equality means we have more career women today than we’ve ever had. Many women now combine careers with homemaking and raising children, some even aspire to reach the zenith of those careers as their male counterparts. These many duties coupled with the hustle and bustle of our big cities take their toll on the woman’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health.