A question Nikiwe Bikitsha asks in article subtitled "in gaining the ability to 'have it all', women may have landed up losing most of it" (Mail & Guardian, 3-9 September 2010, p. 34, colum 'High Heels'). Download Nikiwe Bikitsha - Emancipation not so 'Jolie'
Nikiwe's sharing of her habit to watch other moms dropping kids off early mornings and pick-up routine in the afternoons, differentiating the working moms — wearing expressions of a hounded animal, from the stay-at-home ones — exuding enviable serenity, reminded me about Wendy Holden's (2005) The Wives of Bath.
Amanda, sacked because she once too often got her publisher-employer in trouble, on her flight home got carried away with the notion that children are fashionable. No sooner after she got home, she seduced Hugo and became pregnant. After having given birth she discovered the reality is far from glamorous and left Hugo with the new-born. Hugo battles and househusband and practically clueless as single-dad: with unfolding the pram-canopy in the rain getting soaking wet in the process; negotiating for parking space against guerrilla mums with battle wagons; Weetabix crusts on his collar; child-illness (e.g. conjunctivitis); etc.
The story is about four parents-to-be attending antenatal classes together and takes the reader on interesting paths.
Nikiwe's question "In the race to have it all, what have we lost?" reminds me about two other books:
- Allison Pearson's (2002) I don't know how she does it draws to the conclusion, similar to Nikiwe's article that the modern professional woman seems to be a harassed and impatient women, where Kate takes a decision which saddened me.
- Venitha Pillay's (2007) Academic mothers, a popularised version of her doctoral thesis about the battles of four academic colleagues, who are also mothers, in their career progression.
I firmly believe that if a couple decide to have a child or children, they must take a united decision to fully share the responsibilities and help one another succeed in other things.