No. Not usually.
Often, they add simply more pressure on to women, by giving them more to expect of themselves. And making them responsible for achieving it. Thus burdening themselves with extra guilt.
Joanne is a good example. Joanne, her husband and two young girls, live on a small rural property in a beautiful but remote place. The countryside is green and full of rolling hills dotted with grazing cows and sheep, with lots of streams and rivers. The house they bought is where the original matriarch of the region lived, and its quaint and charming. The view they have from their formal sitting room is spectacular.
She doesn’t need to go to work because her husband provides enough income to support a thrifty lifestyle, but no one lacks for anything.
So you would expect that Joanne would have a lot of time on her hands, wouldn’t you? Days blend into each other, punctuated mainly by weekends and school holidays. She actively fosters her children’s independence and creativity, and participates in many of their projects which include dozens of varied birds and fowl. Daylight and weather, rather than the clock, determines the rhythm of this household.
Her own passions are sculpting and learning about spirituality and consciousness. Before she married, she worked as a reflexologist, so she has a fine appreciation of body wisdom. Joanne also communicates with Angels. The Internet is her intellectual lifeline, and she enjoys the works of Doreen Virtue, Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton.
The beautiful scenery of her locale is a natural tourist drawcard, so she is a regular choice of destination for a number of her city-based relatives, whom she happily hosts.
But when hosting her more career or business oriented relatives, she becomes highly conscious of being “just a housewife,” and of not doing anything “meaningful” with her life.
What Joanne, and women like her, may not appreciate is that there are distinct stages to a woman’s life and each stage has a different priority, both biological and psychological.
Maiden, Mother, Crone.
The Maiden is the young just-ripe woman, and nature has equipped her with the task of attracting a mate to keep the species going. The age of the Maiden is roughly between 15 to 25. Boys, flirting, dating and attachment are high on the agenda for this group.
The Mother stage begins with pregnancy of the first child and continues until the last child has left home. Mother stage is generally between the ages of 25 and 40. This is a time of high self-sacrifice for women, who put their own needs last ahead of those of their children, and their partner.
For women without children, they don’t, unfortunately, avoid the Mother stage. Partners, pets, and career all get first dibs of a woman’s time and energy before she does.
One research project found that as new commitments come on board, men reduce their leisure time (usually drinking time for many guys) to take it on board. (I can hear women now, saying, “Leisure time? What’s leisure time?”)
Women, however, tend to sacrifice sleep time to take on the extra commitment. Because, it’s one of the endemic sad facts, that house chores are still considered the domain of the woman.
The Mother stage could also easily be termed the superwoman stage. You’re supposed to look fantastic, fit in exercise, build a dynamic career, take on high-profile projects, maintain a spotless, stylish house, raise well mannered, well rounded, high-achieving children, cook nutritious dinners from raw ingredients, find the best bargains, balance the budget, be available for the hurts and wounds of your partner and your children, be well-read, host Tupperware parties, and be hot and sexy in bed. All with a smile on your face, and love in your heart.
Er, excuse me?
The third stage is my personally favourite stage, the Crone. This is when the duty and responsibility of raising children is by and large over, and women have psychic space in their lives to re-connect with displaced dreams or to explore new ones. This is a potent time, rich with possibilities, although it takes a few years to unhook from superwoman-dom. It is also a time where women become much more savvy about their own passions, desires and less under the influence of cultural imperatives. This is the stage where women explore their inner world of archetypes and mysteries, and connect with other women to do so.
This is the stage where the wild woman can finally bloom and build on those themes that have followed her life through secret daydreams.
These are the women who have the inner poise, the insider knowledge, the emotional investment through their children and grandchildren, to most likely design and craft a cultural shift.
It’s little wonder that crones are often called witches. A witch is simply a woman who is not controlled by a man.