Where’s the real gender gap? December 4, 2018 – Posted in: Advice, Confidence, Personal Development, Relationships – Tags: advice, coach, confidence, families, gender gap, life, life lessons, love, relationships
I had a conversation with a friend the other day who was passionately reminding me how unfair she believes things are for women in this day and age. This is because by doing the bulk of the childcare (which a lot of women choose to do) they lose out financially, both at the time of caring for their little ones and when they return to work. She was very angry about the gender pay gap.
And, I can’t argue with her because the evidence is there for us all to see. And therefore, if you buy into the cultural narrative that the accumulation of money equals happiness and success then you will be left feeling very hard done by if you are someone who stayed at home to raise your children for a time.
But, let’s spin this on its head… what if love and connection are the most valuable things we can engage in during our time as people? What if those long, exhausting, sometimes boring (let’s be honest), sometimes wonderful hours spent caring for your children are the foundation of the most enduring and loving relationships most of us will ever experience? What if the point of life is relationships? Now, where’s the gap?
People (both men and women) who choose to put their careers on hold to care for their kids (or other relatives) are investing in connection, which I’m pretty sure is the whole point of this mystery we call life anyway! And yes, it’s tough and monotonous at times, but intimacy is grown by just being with people through all the bits of life.
I have a client whose first wife left him and took their two children with her because, in his own words, he put his career way ahead of them and never saw them. He’s a hugely successful man but seriously regrets that time of broken relationships. He would do things very differently if he had his time over.
I don’t live in la la land – I know we all need money to live and having money coming in is essential for life. But I believe those who choose to be the main breadwinner are sacrificing time with their children and partners in order to ensure their family has food and a home. Breadwinners also experience a gap.
I was lucky enough to have the choice to work part-time while my children were young and as a result, there were many times when we had very little spare money. I can clearly remember leaving my incredibly knackered old car a mile out of Bath and walking in with our second-hand pram in order to save money on parking. Those were the days when I’d take a packed lunch and a flask of coffee with me and feed the ducks with my baby for entertainment. I had to seriously question if I could afford contact lenses at £15 per month.
As a result of that decade caring for my three young girls and earning much less than I usually would, I have less apparent ‘wealth’ than some other people of my age. But, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing because those relationships are the most precious things I ‘own’.
Emma Rushe December 05, 2018 - 11:14
I love that Jo, full of great wisdom and it definitely really resonates with me – when I look at my life (who chose the being broke but with my kids route) and that of some of my friends (who chose to have more money and less time with the kids), I know I wouldn’t change it for anything and feel deeply comforted that while regrets are part of life, I won’t have those awful regrets about not having spent enough time with my kids when they were little when I am looking back at my life.
Julie December 05, 2018 - 18:16
This was very important for me to read today as I grapple with financial stability at age 60. Thank you for this insight about what is most important in life, and that the grass is never greener on the other side.