Battle of the Sexes by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck



At my friend’s office party, I looked around and felt a bit sheepish. Did these other smart young men with bored looking blondes on their arm go home to a sinkful of washing up? Perhaps I don’t give my friend enough sympathy when a last minute meeting means he can’t do the nursery pick up, umbrella


Most ‘motherhood’ decisions are family decisions – since they encroach on the commonwealth which is the children. For successful working motherhood, adjustments have to be made by all members of the family. There is always the risk of the old cliche: the woman coming home from work to do another full days work in the home.


Of course the exact balance varies from couple to couple. It will depend a lot on what the balance of the partnership was before children. Most men have grown out of feeling demeaned if their wife has to earn money. I do have to admit that some of my friend’s husbands have always had an undercurrent of caveman pride at being the breadwinner when needed.


My unmarried – surprise surprise friends are very sympathetic “You work your wotsits off while she’s swanning about having babies, not even going back to work full time”. I laughed hollowly and said “Who’s supporting who?”  


Whichever way your family’s needs lie – the crucial thing is to keep communication going.  I’ve actually found it easier to keep talking to my friends now that I’m back at work – even though I work from home. I’m more pre-occupied in the evenings, but I do email and call in the day,  Every month or so we’ll have a delightful child-free ‘business lunch’,


I find myself irrationally resentful if he is late or unavailable. “My boss hadn’t left yet” he’ll say, or “I’m busy”. “How do you think I feel?” I rail against him “It is always assumed that it is easy for me to brazen out the early departures, and the ‘working from home’”.


Looking around the room at the party, I realized that my friends do make a lot of effort to play their part fully. Whatever the theoretical rights and wrongs – the office culture is macho. I think it shows guts to stand up to it and win the fight.