Friday, September 30, 2005

WHAT ABOUT ME

I'm just going to have a rant here about my own situation. I just got back from a 30 minute round trip, on foot, to get my kid to school.  In three and a half hours I will be setting off again to pick him up. Yes, he is only in school from 8am until 1.30pm. I will then spend the afternoon trying to persuade him to do his "homework", which is basically the work he should be doing at school but doesn't because there aren't enough hours to get through it. At his school, they used to have afternoon hours too. This meant that it was possible to work (if you could get a job that would give you numerous days off during the term, three months off in the summer as well as sick days and the rest). Now, not only can I not work but I am also responsible for making sure that my kid gets through the school work that the government says is compulsory but takes no responsibility to ensure that it gets taught. It is generally assumed here, that when you have a child you give up any life you might have had and devote yourself to your family. While, this might be fine for some people (and I am not in any way criticizing those women (and it is mostly women) who wish to do that) but it really is not for me. I do not want to be a housewife. But I have no choice. It is assumed here that grandparents will fill in the gaps but mine are not living nearby and  I wouldn't want that even if they did. What I want is the freedom to be able to be something other than a slave to my kids education. There is no state childcare provision here in Greece. If you have money, you have options. If you don't, then you might as well forget about yourself for twelve years or so. Women have worked hard to gain their rights and freedoms. It seems that here in Greece, people are hardly even aware that women might want to work, (or need to work) or that they might want to study or they might just want to do anything other than be a housewife. I don't see any opportunities for me in this country. I would like to get a degree. I would like to work again. I would like to have been able to say yes to the couple of great job offers I have had. I would like to feel that, in the near future, I would have a life outside this house.

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At 9/30/2005 06:30:00 PM, Blogger melusina said...

Isn't it possible for you to take some classes while your son is at school? I don't really know what the university situation is here, so I don't know how possible/affordable that is. I am still working on my MA at my old university in Nashville, but doing it online. Maybe you can find some online universities at the very least?

The school day in America is usually 8-2:30, but it is only that long because we have a lunch hour at American schools. It is a hard thing, juggling kids and work, I don't know how some people do it. A lot of kids end up being "latch-key", but that only works if they are older. I'm not sure there are many alternatives in America either, unless you pay for after-school childcare, because most work days are from 8-5.

I'm sorry it is so bad for you. I can't even begin to put myself in your shoes, because I am not even close to having a child. Well, we have cats, but they pretty much take care of themselves. =p

 
At 9/30/2005 07:05:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Thanks Melusina,
I have looked into studying but, as I said "If you have money, you have options." If, like me you don't, forget about it. It's expensive. I've done some free online courses but miss the interaction with people. I'm not disciplined.
I did a lot of looking around at the situation in other countries. It's pretty much the same in England too and the States. Maybe Sweden has a better plan? They seem to manage to have a good social system there. Not sure though about this issue though.
It doesn't help that I work in the Theatre. Very inflexible and very long hours for very little money. My parents told me I should have a back up plan, learn to type or something sensible. Did I listen? Nope.
I just wish it wasn't a choice between a latchkey kid or no life outside the house.

 
At 9/30/2005 07:39:00 PM, Blogger Phantasmak said...

I didn't know the situation in England is similar. I remember my parents, and especially my mother, forgot about themselves until I was in my late teens. Women in previous generations didn't particularly mind this situation, and unfortunately a lot don't mind even now. But people have gained many liberties in Greece over the last twenty years, so this establishment was expected to change but, alas, no.

I know it's difficult. It's hard even for a young couple that's just starting out their professional life, let alone a couple or a single parent with one or more kids.

 
At 9/30/2005 07:58:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

I know. I've talked to quite a few people here who looked at me bewildered, as if to say "but why would you want to do anything besides be a housewife".
You know what would make it easier... if we got the recognition, the respect and the WAGES for raising the next generation.

 
At 9/30/2005 09:01:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

I'm somewhat in the same situation as you Diva. I left a good-paying, challenging job to come to live in Greece mistakenly thinking that since it was a member of the EU, I'd get a comparative salary and the same opportunities. So much for that pie-in-the-sky dream. I spent the first year in Athens griping about my limited possibilities as a woman in this country and then came to the realization that, so often in my life, the things I want are usually not the things I need. That the best way from point a to point b is not always a straight line. Maybe my life has taken some odd turns I hadn't planned on since arriving here, but I have managed to work (albeit not in the field I want) and be actively involved in raising my son. It's not easy. But then again, it never was. I remember bitching about not having a 'good' job like I had before, but then I concluded that my 'good' job meant too many hours away from my son. My son is my most important job. If I raise him right then I will die a very happy woman. I will not be on my deathbed wishing I spent more hours at the office putting the finishing touches on the latest ad campaign. I will wish that I'd have left earlier to watch my son swim or to listen to his political diatribes at the age of 9. I really hope that somehow you will find some balance between the best of both worlds...you might just have to be a little more creative and patient to find it.

 
At 10/01/2005 02:41:00 AM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Thanks SeaWitch, Please don't get me wrong, though. I am not regretting the time and patience I have put into "the best of both worlds". I have been actively raising my son and I am glad for that. I have been here a long time now. I have worked in and out of my field. I am raising a son. But he is not my whole life ( as precious as he is). It isn't about the "good job". It's about me. As selfish as that sounds.

My 'good' job didn't pay the bills or buy me anything or give me status or anything. It's not like I gave anything up to live here. I am blessed. I am lucky. I know that. I bitch now because, after many years, I find myself with little choice, very little creativity and no patience. I have never been good at patience, but how much is enough? 5 years, 10 years? A little more creative? I'm not sure what you mean. I have spent most of my adult life trying to be creative.
I did not leave "a good-paying, challenging job to come to live in Greece mistakenly thinking that since it was a member of the EU, I'd get a comparative salary and the same opportunities"
I chose to have a child here. And chose to raise him in the best way I know how. What I didn't know, is that I would be completely on my own trying to do it. In the end, what shines through this whole post and follow-up is: How lonely it is. How achingly lonely it is.

 
At 10/01/2005 12:08:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

Uh oh. I definitely don't want you to misunderstand my previous post. I re-read it and I think I came off as some modern June Cleaver type woman with all the crap advice from the Self Help section in your local bookstore. The main thing I wanted to get across to you (and I see that I probably did it very clumsily) is that I truly DO understand how difficult it is for you. I felt (and still feel) those very same feelings and frustration you're going through right now.

Just because there are several universities in this city doesn't automatically mean that all your problems are solved. You can't just go to a class at 8:30am when you have to figure out a way to get your son to and from school. Just because your son is not in school in the evenings doesn't mean you can just leave him home so you can spend 5 hours a night in evening classes. You need a PhD in logistics to get anything done when you have a child. Throw the financial cost of it all into the equation and then it becomes even more complicated.

There's a reason I get upset when people tell me to have another child. The truth of the matter is, I can't handle another child and I've taken all the flak for such a statement. How many times I've been called 'selfish' you have no idea. I never wanted "me" to come to an abrupt end just because I became a mom. When I read your words about "how achingly lonely it is", I just wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I, at least, wanted to let you know that your feelings aren't wrong, aren't selfish and aren't only experienced by you. But I know that saying all this doesn't solve anything. I wish there was something I could DO for you other than type my thoughts.

 
At 10/01/2005 01:11:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Thank you so much, SeaWitch, "Typing your thoughts", to someone you don't know, is a wonderful thing. You have taken the time to read someone elses rambling and to respond. Knowing there are people out there who are looking out for you is just a great feeling. You know how it is with this blogging thing. I look forward to the comments I get, even the not so nice ones. Thanks for your kind words.

 
At 10/02/2005 02:24:00 AM, Blogger EllasDevil said...

I think the reason you (and SeaWitch) feel the way you do is because you come from more progressed countries. You know the situation isn't ideal in Greece for women in your situation.

I'm curious Diva as to why your here? Not in a bad way, I've kind of made the assumption that your married to a Greek. Although why I jump to that conclusion is because I cannot think of any other logical reason for women to come here. I look at my female friends and they fall into two catagories.

The first are the kind who spend their life looking for a good man to marry so they don't have to work. It doesn't matter if he's a complete (bleep) so long as he earns enough so she can stay at home. One friend inparticular had a baby because once she found herself a rich husband, she got bored. Now the 'baby' takes up her life. Her life isn't great, I can't stand her husband but she's in the same situation as lots of other women and she'll never change it.

The second kind are actually more 'non Greek' in their thinking. They know they are equal to their male counterparts and want to make their way in the world. Unfortunately, working practises here are still stuck in the time warp. I speak to friends who are treated as if they are dumb or sexually harassed or threatened by the males at work and they feel they can't really do anything about it because it's 'just the way it is'. This is working for big well known international companies. I pointed out that to one of my friends who said "the company may be international but remember I'm working for the Greek offices".

I'm sorry to add doom and gloom to this post. I'm sure there's light at the end of the tunnel if you look hard enough.

 
At 10/02/2005 12:27:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Thank you ellasdevil.
Actually, I am not married to a Greek man, but I know why you would think that. I cannot say that everything has been bad here. I have had a great adventure in this country. A big reason for staying has been that I am raising a child in relatively non-violent place. London (where I lived before) had become increasingly tense and bringing up a child in the neighbourhoods I lived in was unthikable. Of course, there are very nice places to live but really out of our league financially. We are also in a band here and have become steadily more successful so I stay, for now, to see where that takes us. Now that my kid is older though, I feel he needs more opportunities than the ones we have here. As for me, I want to get back to my career or go to college. So, we will be leaving at some point in the next couple of years. I will be sad to leave but find myself excited about future possibilties. Something that is lacking here at the moment.

 

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