By Jameela Rashad
My husband is a stay at home dad. He is the one that takes care of all household matters, or at least this is what he thinks. See, I am one of the few women in the Arab world that is the main bread winner. I know many women work and I salute them for this, yet in my case I took the role of the main and only provider. I have a flourishing career as a management consultant and my career takes me to many countries working long hours and mostly away from home. To further illustrate, my husband and I have three beautiful children one of which is a young daughter.
I am writing this short piece to share with the readers of Arab Woman Magazine three paradoxical matters and to hopefully generate a healthy debate that all working women will benefit from.
- How can a full time working woman balance between her career and her family particularly when her work takes her away from home for many days a week? Every time I travel my little daughter looks at me with her angelic eyes and hugs me and asks, when will you be back mom? Are you going to attend my sports day at school? My husband wishes me well and smiles telling me to hurry back; and my two boys have gotten so used to me being away that to them I am the bossy woman that gives them money. It seems this is a role reversal in our society and while this is almost normal for a man it is not for a woman.
- While my husband wishes me well, a part of him is tearing apart. He wants to be the person who provides for his family. I can’t help but know that in his mind a hundred and one questions flash every time I travel, or I pay the credit card bills, or the schools fees or the few times when friends come over and visit. Our society does not accept nor approve of this type of a relationship. I will note that my husband is well educated, had a reasonable career and we had to make the difficult choice of who quits to look after the children and the household. So was I right to allow this? Or the choice my husband and I made several years ago will forever haunt us?
- I now believe I want to go back to being a full time mother and wife. I am not sure how my husband will take this; or if my boys will accept me being at home and in their lives always; or how my daughter will feel after all these years of me being not in her life as most other mothers are in the lives of their daughters. We also have the issue of will my husband find a job after all these years of being “unemployed”? How can we maintain the current life style we all grew being used to? Am I destined to be a working woman? And if yes, when will I have the time to be next to my daughter as her friend, mentor and mom? When will I be the mother that I dreamt of being when I was a child?
So I guess what I am saying is, not all working women are happy especially those that are married and have children. I am also saying that our society judges working women and in some cases stay at home or unemployed men with a view that is different from the one they view women with. The decisions we make at the early stage of a marriage will have a significant bearing for decades to come.
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