This Bondage

Another emphatic denial of the contention that marriage offers a woman a better career than business

A WIFE October 1 1931

This Bondage

Another emphatic denial of the contention that marriage offers a woman a better career than business

A WIFE October 1 1931

This Bondage

Another emphatic denial of the contention that marriage offers a woman a better career than business

A WIFE

In the July 15 MacLean s, “A Business Woman," writing under the title “This Freedom," criticized the entry of women into business. In our September 15 issue, “A Spinster," on behalf of business women, made a slashing retort. Now comes wife and mother who refers to home life as “This Bondage.” Perhaps we'd better announce loudly that so far as MacLean is concerned we sit in a neutral corner.—The Editor.

WHERE, oh where, does the modern business woman get the idea that married life is such a cinch? She seems to think that the average wife has

nothing to do but lie upon the chesterfield, listen to the radio and “grouse” about the monotony and the drudgery of their existence. There may be some wives—childless women—whose days are empty and futile, but believe me, the average married woman who is bringing up a family has just as hard and nerve-racking a job—more so in many cases—than the business woman.

Let me give you a glimpse of my own life. I shall say nothing of the pains of childbirth or the cruel, torturous months of discomfort and suffering that precede them. I shall not speak of the sleepless nights and the constant care and vigilance necessary to bring children safely through the critical stages of babyhood. I shall speak only of the normal, everyday life that I have lived as wife and mother for the past twenty years.

I think that anyone would call John and myself an “average couple.” John has a good position and a moderate income. We married twenty years ago when he was twentyfour and I was twenty. We loved each other devotedly and we still do. We have five healthy and beautiful children. We own our own home, a comfortable bungalow in the suburbs of a thriving Canadian city. We have a car and a summer home in a lake district eighty miles away. John does not drink to excess. He does not gamble or bet on horse races. He swears only under extreme provocation and then very mildly, and he is faithful to me. I suppose “A Business Woman” would think that I ought to be perfectly happy and satisfied and she would no doubt envy me. The truth is that I envy her.

The Morning Rush

IHAVE a sister, four years my senior, who chose a business career in preference to marriage. Whenever we have been together I have suffered from a wretched fit of the blues. It is not that I want to change places with my sister—I love John and the children too much for that—but when Enid comes here for dinner and spends the evening with us, bringing with her well-groomed person a breath of the great world of business, I am so conscious of the advantages of her life over mine that I am depressed for a whole day after. The thought will come that my sister “hath chosen the better part.”

We do not keep a servant. It is our desire that our children should have the very best education possible, and John carries heavy insurance of the endowment variety. There is no money to spare for domestic help. I used to have a woman come in one day a week to do the washing and heavy cleaning, but John bought me a washing machine and I don’t have her now.

I rise at seven in the morning. Our eldest child, Jessie, is

in her first year at university, and we live so far out that she must leave the house at eight to be in time for her nine o’clock lecture. I dress hurriedly, spending as little time as possible on my toilet, and rush downstairs to put on the cereal. Then I go upstairs to waken the children. I don’t know how many times I run up and down those stairs before breakfast. My family seems to

require many calls and repeated urgings before they get up, and John hates me to call them from downstair . He .does not leave the house until nine, and if he wakens before the time necessary it puts him in a bad humor for the rest of the day.

The morning meal is always a time of confusion in our home. Harry and Jack attend high school and take their lunches.

These I cut at one end of the table while the boys are eating their breakfast. I have constantly to admonish them to be quiet.

I believe that all children are in an argumentative mood in the early hours of the morning, and arguments so often end in quarrels if not checked.

I urge the children to “hurry” and “hush” alternately, and finally it is with a great sigh of relief that I hear the front door bang upon the last two, Mary and Walter, who are still at public school.

There is no time to rest, however. 1 can hear John moving about upstairs. I quickly clear the table of the dirty dishes the children have left and brush the crumbs off. John is fastidious about his breakfast. He likes it well and freshlycooked and piping hot. He is never in a verygood humor in the mornings, and no matter how little I feel like it, I must be cheerful and bright and send him off to business with the memory of a smiling face. Not until John's car has backed out of the drive and headed toward town do I have a chance to "relax" and then only for a few minutes. No business woman ever works at greater tension or under more strain than I do during the first two hours of my day, and that is all before the average business woman’s labor has really begun.

My sister rises at eight in the morning. She dresses carefully, taking time to arrange her hair becomingly and manicure her fingernails. She comes downstairs and leisurely eats a breakfast that has been prepared for her. Then she takes the street car to her office. She does not really begin to work until nine-thirty.

Little Time Kor Rest

WHEN John has gone, I brew myself a fresh cup of tea—believe me, I need it !— turn on the radio, and for a few minutes I enjoy the peace and quiet that reigns. I can’t do it for very long. The dishes must be washed, the beds must be made, the regular routine of housework must be gone through; wasli-

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This Bondage

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ing, ironing, sweeping, scrubbing, etc. At twelve-fifteen Mary and Walter will be coming home from school, and I must have the midday meal ready. I have been told that I ought to lie down for a little while every afternoon for my health’s sake. I do manage to do it on my most strenuous day, which is wash day, but I cannot spare the time on other days. When the housework is all done there is the ever-present mending basket, filled to overflowing and calling me insistently. I have a bath, change my dress, comb my hair, and then I sit down in the living room, tune in on the radio and ply my needle until it is time to prepare the evening

Ever since the children have grown old enough to help with the housework, I have made it a rule that they should wash the dinner dishes without any assistance from me. This hour is perhaps the happiest of my whole day. John, having eaten heartily of a well-cooked meal, his slippered feet toward the grate fire and the reading lamp at exactly the proper angle near his favorite chair, is usually in his most agreeable mood. I draw my low rocker up beside him and he hands me a section of the evening paper. We read the news perfunctorily. John will see something that will remind him of an interesting bit of gossip concerning a business associate and he will relate it to me, or I will read aloud an item from the social column that concerns some friends of ours. We chat and read alternately, while from the kitchen there come disturbing sounds—the clatter of dishes, and perhaps an ominous crash. I try to shut my ears and hope devoutly that whatever has just been broken is not one of the new crystal tumblers. There is, too, a continual obligato of discordant voices. While I tum an eager, interested face toward my husband, another part of me will persist in listening to the clamor in the kitchen, and I ask myself wearily why it is that nice children quarrel so.

When the dishes are done, our rest and quiet is over. Schoolbooks are brought out and homework is begun. It is necessary to put each child, as far as possible, in a room by himself. Otherwise, more fooling than studying will be done. Jessie usually goes to her own bedroom. She is a nervous, highly strung girl and requires absolute

quiet when she is concentrating upon her work. It is not an unusual thing, sometime during the evening, for me to hear her agonized voice calling to me from the upstairs hall. I know very well what she is going to say before I reach her:

“Mother, will you please ask Harry to read to himself. How can I do French translation with that monotone going on in the next room?” Or perhaps it will be: “Mother, can’t you persuade daddy to use the ear phones. I simply find it impossible to study when the radio loud speaker is on.”

It takes all the diplomacy and tact that I am capable of to make the necessary adjustments and satisfy each member of my family.

My sister leaves her office at five p.m. After she has eaten her dinner the evening is her own for reading, recreation or study.

Anxious Holidays

IT IS true that I don’t stay at home every evening. John occasionally takes me to a show, and sometimes we go to a friend’s house for a game of bridge, but the thought of the children is ever present in my mind.

I wonder what they are doing. Is Jack preparing his homework or is he talking on the telephone with that undesirable companion he has become intimate with of late? Is Jessie having the quiet so necessary for her studying? Will Mary, who is growing too fast and needs lots of sleep, obey my orders and be in bed by nine o’clock?

No business woman is more weary or nerve-racked than I am when at last I seek my bed. Even then I may not always sleep. If John desires to talk to me about an important business deal he has pending or plan for some alterations in the garden, I must listen patiently and answer him intelligently as a dutiful wife should.

When school closes at the end of June, we go to our cottage on the lake. The children and I stay until the first week in September, and John comes up for weekends in July and for the whole month of August when he gets his holidays. It is true that my work is much easier at the lake. We simplify our living as much as we possibly can, and I have time to catch up with my reading. Still, even at our summer

home the family must eat. There are three meals a day to prepare. Beds must be made, rooms must be swept and dusted. We do not wear many clothes in the hot weather, but there is some laundry work to be done and the cottage has less conveniences for doing it than our city home. All through the holidays I am under a certain strain of anxiety. The children are very daring, and, although they are all good swimmers and can handle a canoe or rowboat like experts,

I am constantly in fear of accidents.

My sister has two weeks’ vacation every summer. She shuts up her desk and turns her back upon the office. She does not take her work with her on vacation as I do. She enjoys fourteen days and nights of complete relaxation. Is that not worth more to a tired body and mind than two months of my sort of holiday?

Financial Dependence

V\ THAT I envy about my sister more ’ ’ than anything else, however, is her financial independence. I could stand the hard work, the nervous strain, the anxiety and worry all so much more cheerfully if I only had some money of my very own.

My sister receives a substantial cheque every pay day. This belongs absolutely to her. She does not have to give an account to anyone of how she spends it. If she squanders some of it foolishly it is her own business, and she would bitterly resent any criticism of what she should do with that which she has earned.

I have to ask John for every cent that I spend. For years I begged him to give me an allowance, but I gave that up long ago. There is something in John, deep and fundamental, that makes him want to hold on to his money. He simply will not see that I have any claim on even the smallest part of his salary. He likes to feel that he is a sort of feudal lord dispensing bounty to his subjects. When I used to urge him to give me an allowance, he would always say:

“What the dickens do you want an allowance for? I’ll pay all the bills, and if you want anything for yourself or the children, just tell me. You have no kick coming, my dear girl. I’m saving you a whole lot of trouble. No one can say I’m not a good provider.”

John is a good provider. He likes me to order the best from the butcher and the grocer, and he only rarely finds fault at the size of the monthly bills. When I require a new hat or dress, when the children need boots or underwear, I always choose a propitious time to make my request. Usually it is after a particularly good dinner when I have served his favorite dessert. I broach the subject diplomatically, and the occasions are rare when he makes any demur. Of course, no man understands how very many things a girl going to college needs, or how quickly children’s clothing and household linen will wear out. Sometimes, when the calls have been somewhat frequent, John will say:

“Great Scott ! Are you after money again? Why, I gave you ten dollars just the other day ! I hope you’re not spending foolishly, old girl. Don’t go and buy a lot of things you don’t need. Cash is hard to get, you

Oh, how I writhe inwardly at having to ask my husband for money. What wouldn’t I give to have an income of my very own

I never will have, of course. John and the children have bound me with a six-strand cord to my home. It is a cord of love, but it is a cord that holds me in bondage. This is my job and I must stick to it.

Sometimes I dream that I am an independent business woman. My hands are not stained with housework. They are white and soft and well cared for. My clothes are tailor-made and very smart. I am just going out to have lunch at a tearoom noted for the excellence of its cuisine. I shall there partake of a meal with whose preparation had nothing whatever to do. Before I leave the office I open my hand bag,' take out my compact and powder my nose. I have glimpse of an envelopje. It contains a cheque for a month’s salary. That money is my very own. I may spend it exactly as choose. I earned it and it is mine 1

I am awakened by the raucous whir of the alarm clock. Sleepily I put out a hand and switch the silencer on. I look apprehensively toward my slumbering husband. I hopje that he hasn’t been awakened. He does not like to have his morning sleep broken. sigh a trifle wistfully and rise to begin another day.