Friday, February 10, 2012
Half A Wife.
The battle in modern working life is that of reconciliation. How do you be all things to all people? On one hand, Britains problems are the cause of the feckless poor who don't want to work. And also, at the same time, it's the fault of the absent parents who, after a hard day at work in the most challenging working environment of the past 80 years, and working all hours to keep their jobs and roofs over their heads whilst their colleagues are being cut, cut, cut, in the name of austerity. Leave work on time to put your kids to bath, and you're the first for the chop because you don't show any commitment to the corporate cause. Stay late and you're the absent parent that is the cause of Broken Britain.
And let us not even mention the benefits trap : with a lack of regulated child care costs, a working parent is seeing half their money go direct to someone else to raise their children.
These are the battles the modern family quietly, desperately fights : every second at work is one taken from the children, and the equasion to be all things to all people all the time also excludes perhaps the most important element of the whole thing. Parents often feel that they exist to serve in modern slavery, with all space for their own personality pushed to the side of their lives, existing solely as parent units. It is this world that this book so elegantly captures, with examples both drawn from memory and fact, but also from the millions across the country, this quiet, exhausted war of duty.
But also, not only Half A Wife, but Half A Husband, where the partnership becomes two people toiling in the tyranny of housework - mother, brother, sister, lover - all things at work. Written clearly, concisely, and in a way that follows the natural order of issues logically, this book illuminates. To be frank, it is practically essential reading for any manager or HR department in the UK (and further beyond) : the telling point is that for every late-night supermarket, every garage and convienience store, every restaurant and helpdesk, there is a quiet and apposite effect - a child somewhere, without their mother or father, and a harried parent, or stepfather, or a grandparent, staying up late at night, putting someone else's child to bed.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is the rub of the book, and eloquently, exhaustively explained again, and again, and again, in this work : every employer should read it, and every Prime Minister should have every word imprinted into his mind - that being Half A Wife or Half A Husband is sometimes too much for even the most dedicated of parents in the modern world.