How many times have you heard men say “I don’t understand women!” They seem to think all we want is to buy new shoes and drink frappuccinos, they believe we are all always taking forever to get ready and think this cliché joke is still funny. They think all we want to do is spend days rummaging through antique markets in search of trinkets we could fill our cupboards with. Although this may be true, these are only small things and the big stuff seemingly goes unnoticed.
Here’s the thing men need to understand about women. All women. The moment you get it and truly embrace your newly found wisdom, and bestow it on your sons, you would have found the key that can open the doors to us being less “moody” and us “losing our shit” as often as we do according to you.
So here’s the thing that may surprise, but also a fact we want men to know: we are exhausted. So very, very tired.
On average, we are earning less. The pay gap is a thing, and even though you haven’t given it a second thought possibly ever, it affects working women every single day. Even though uneven pay for men and women is illegal for over 45 years now, it’s still running at 18% in UK. To put it in perspective, women are working for free for 57 days in a year. It’s exhausting.
We are under pressure to invest in our looks from the early age. Have you seen any Disney’s heroines not looking hot? With amazing hair and massive eyes? Tiny waists and pouty, perfectly pink lips? We aspire to be like Cinderella, Anna From Frozen, Snow White.
In 2012 we had a brief moment, where something almost changed. Brenda Chapman created “Merida”, a ballsy non-married, bow-shooting ginger heroine. Well done Disney!
Well done for catching up with times. Feminists everywhere almost believed things shifted, then “Merida” merchandise entered the stores, except things changed. From a scruffy, messy haired galloping heroine, she got a major body adjustment. No longer holding a bow and arrow, she now had slimmer waist, bigger boobs and more defined eye liner. We had gone back 50 years. The hope of showing girls everywhere that being themselves as OK was lost. We were back to sexualising everything for the sake of extra bucks. Our idol got reshaped into an unachievable new thing we were meant to aspire to. Younger girls cannot escape from this race. When not at the cinema, they get the pressure from Instagram and Facebook. Then we get older and start dating.
“You won’t find a boyfriend if you keep wearing those scruffy pants all the time.”, “You look like a boy with those trainers on, put some lipstick on”, “you look like a duck walking in those heels!”. We are always under pressure when it comes to looks. We are judged and talked about. When we are young, we will be crying in our mom’s shoulders about other girls in the class being prettier and more popular. That’s if we are lucky to have mom that listens.
I was the last one in my class to get boobs. The struggle was real. You cannot imagine how mortified one can be, when a sock that they stuffed in their unnecessary bra sticks out during PE class. Then we reach our 20s and 30s. We are supposed to look amazing to snag a husband. You never know when you will meet him so better look amazing every day. Make up on, make up off. Dating, breaking up, waiting. Sometimes those years before we meet our husband/partner can feel like a scene from Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”, where two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for the arrival of someone named Godot, who never arrives. Just like Beckett’s characters, we are exhausted.
Then we finally find ‘the one’, or someone remotely close at the time when our ovaries are said to be on their last string. We are under pressure to reproduce. We either get pregnant pretty quickly and are exhausted making a human, or struggle to get pregnant and therefore get yet more judgement thrown at us, and well wishers, who don’t know the story of our ovaries, ask us relentlessly when we are planning on having a baby. Notice they never ask the guy. WE ARE EXHAUSTED.
Pregnant or not, we are feeling our body deteriorating, we start questioning our worth. From an early age, we were precoded that looks are our currency. Now the currency is running out. We are looking deeper into ourselves trying to find anything else of value. Are we funny enough to stop our partner cheating on us? Have we got family money that would make us feel more confident? Have we got an amazing job? Guys don’t dwell on it as much as we do.
If producing a human wasn’t enough, we then have to feed them. If you choose to use a bottle, you are taking the “easiest route”. If you choose to breastfeed, you better forget about lunch at Claridge’s for another year or so, unless you would like to be called an exhibitionist.
Whilst on a subject of breastfeeding, let’s just stop here for a while and put things into perspective. As my favourite blogger, Caitlin Moran wrote in her book “Moranifesto”:
“when the most magic man that ever lived, Jesus, turned water into wine once, for one party, people went on about it for 2000 years, and formed a major man-religion around it.”
Meanwhile women around the world turn their body into lunch each day, and instead, have to figure our each time whether it’s better to feed their offsprings in a toilet somewhere to avoid offending anyone, or listen to them scream out of hunger and experience the onlookers rolling their eyes at you, looking like a walking talking experiment on how long can one survive on 2 hours of sleep in a day. We are exhausted.
Whilst we try to keep our shit together for the Facebook crowd, we have our partner on one side, poking us with their penis, asking to remove cobwebs from it as it hasn’t been used for so long. We feel guilty for feeling exhausted. Now we are failing as a partner in our eyes too, and being your own worst critic, it’s killing you inside that the idea of a Pinterest housewife you coveted pre-baby did not happen.
You child is one year old now, you survived the baby groups, the loss of your old girlfriends who were childless, and faded away after the third time you cancelled your lunch plans together because you were too tired to hold a reasonably engaging conversation.
You decide to go back to work. The thing you will hear the most from now on will be “they are only this tiny once, you don’t want to miss out on this time”, as if you are not feeling guilty already. Surprisingly, no one will ever say that to your partner. You struggle to find a happy medium and work/life balance, as even though you now have another “job” being a mother, you are still trying to compete with a younger, childless workforce. It’s a tough battle. You are exhausted.
Unless you are very lucky, chances are you will be divorced/estranged from your partner by the time your kids reach puberty. If you are in the minority, your relations with the partner will be ok, mostly however the blame game kicks in and you end up with the majority of your week when your children are with you. It’s easy to be a weekend parent, not so easy to put the rules in place and make sure kids stick with them, before they see their dad again for a day or so of chaos and brownie point scoring, and making you look like an incompetent dick of a parent in their eyes. You have no choice, because someone needs to be an adult here, so you stick with the rules and get the emotional blame and get branded the “uncool” parent. You are exhausted.
If you are lucky enough to live until you retire, chances are you will be looking after your parents, since women live longer than men, so by this time if you happen to have had a brother, statistics say he will be gone before you are.
We live our life exhausted, so if you are a guy reading this, don’t bother with flowers to cheer us up, whether it’s mothers day or any other, regular day. We love flowers, we really do, but you will do us a favour if you can book us a weekend away, just for us, in a nice hotel with a spa. Pack us a book and a bottle of red, and leave us alone to catch up on our own thoughts and allow us to remember how it felt to have been US before we were a mother and a wife. We’d love that, I tell ya.