Jules and I were talking today about sabotage. You know, when someone does something  to you to make sure your plans don’t work out. We wondered if it was possible to sabotage yourself.

Jules is a nurse. She has a Master’s degree. She works in Intensive Care. But since she’s had her kids she’s only been working part-time. She works two nights a week because it fits in with the schedules of the rest of the family.

She earns good money for those two nights but she has no responsibility and no chance of promotion. She has job satisfaction as a direct result of dealing with her patients but limited career fulfilment. She would like more but at the moment the logistics of her working full time in a demanding position are not manageable.

I find myself in the same boat. I am the typical jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I can teach, I can sing, I play piano and guitar, I can edit, I can write. I also do accounts and am not too bad at sales. Yet I can’t seem to find a permanent job that gives me satisfaction and the income I need.

I do a lot of freelance or casual work because it is the only way I can work the hours that I need to ensure Nick is not by himself for too long after school. I have found that Sydney is a very family unfriendly town and believe it or not, the teaching profession is the largest offender.

Jules and I both feel we don’t really have careers. We have jobs and odd ones at that because we have put our families before ourselves. Our situation got us wondering how many other women do it and if this constant juggling of children and jobs and housework and cooking and extra-curricular activities is what any woman really wants.

I also wonder if this chaotic, often stressful lifestyle is a direct result of the feminist push in the 60s and 70s. Is this the price we have paid for gender equality? And if it is, I really don’t feel all that equal, I just feel weary and disenchanted.

Modern life dictates that we just work and work and work. There are very little allowances made for children or accommodations made for things like people with medical conditions who might find it easier to work from home. We want it all but don’t realise that having it all is quite possibly unattainable.

Career, children, home, self. Are there enough hours in the day to factor all those variables equally into our lives? I don’t think there are. Something has to suffer. Jules and I feel that in seeking too much we are sabotaging ourselves. We are the agent saboteur in our own lives. Sometimes it is hard to imagine life being any different.

17 thoughts on “AGENT SABOTEUR

  1. I think if you want to get ahead, you’re seen as selfish, yet as young women and girls at school we are told we can have it all, to expect great things of ourselves, no one tells you that maybe there will have to be huge compromises or sacrifices. Because who else will make those sacrifices?
    There are no extended family support systems so you have to rely on friends and then often you feel like you’re taking the mickey.
    Nicks welcome here anytime!


  2. I could have written this post, Selma. I have often wondered if we truly “liberated” ourselves back then, or just burdened ourselves more. Then we wanted the opportunity and the option to work outside the home and have meaningful careers instead of just playing second fiddle. But what we have ended up with is mandatory work just to make ends meet, and all too often at jobs we don’t really enjoy. We now have more things to juggle in our lives and less time than ever to accomplish it. Families suffer, and yes, we suffer too. I agree that maybe the “have it all/be it all” life is unattainable and we are just working ourselves to death. I would love more options, like working from home, but that means no health insurance, and not much job security. I’m betting a lot of men feel just as imprisoned by their jobs and roles, though I still think and studies show that women continue to carry the major portion of domestic duties. So much for equality, huh?


  3. I feel sad that the feminist movement is being blamed. If anything, the feminist movement didn’t finish the job. I may sound like a broken record but men didn’t take up their new role and that’s why we have too much work. If things were indeed 50-50, we women would not have to give up anything. What do men give up? Housework? Changing nappies?

    We need the second phase of the revolution. We’re still bringing home the bacon -and frying it up in pan. That has got to end.


  4. I never had any children but I have the highest regard for the job of being a mother. When I look back NOW on all my mom accomplished in a day, taking care of 4 children and a demanding husband, in addition to her painting, sewing, crafting, sewing in choirs etc…well, it’s just hard to imagine. And for no pay either.

    I do think a lot of women have painted themselves into a corner “wanting it all” . Its all about priorities I think. Does one really need all the “toys” of modern life to be happy. Maybe it sounds outdated, but I find it tragic to see infants being put into daycare, while their mother’s pursue outside jobs just to buy a lot of material things. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for many other people’s. It can’t be replaced, can it. But material things can and do come and go. I know for many women its not an option to stay at home but I think being a stay-at-home mom needs to be respected more for the amazing task that it is to do it right.

    I hope things fall into place for you Sel, I really really do. Nick is a VERY lucky young man to have you for a mom. I am also amazed at the list of things you are good at such as singing…etc. I didnt know many of these as being some of your numerous talents.

    Here’s to good news coming your way and soon, many hugs, G


  5. I felt the way you did a few years ago. Less so now because I do feel I am doing what I want to do, that I have chosen to do I suppose ie work freelance at times to suit me and my children. I love the work I do.

    It is easy to say men should do their share. But actually I think a lot of women want to be more involved in their children’s upbringing – I know I do. Men should certainly do household chores but we have to accept that often they have different standards – that they aren’t fussed about it like a lot of women are. I think if you can slip into that way of thinking (and I embrace it fully) then actually it does work. But I do think generally, chores aside that women want to be with their children more and I don’t think that is just down to social conditioning and upbringing – some of it is down to the differences in the genders.

    I think it is a shame that there are women who work because they have to (financially) or feel they ought to (because they went through school and Uni being told they should do as men do) and also that there are women who truly do want a full-time career and cannot do that.

    It won’t be long though till you are free to spend your time as you wish. Only a few more years!!!


  6. KATE:
    Awww, you are so kind. I really appreciate the offer. It’s true – we are led to believe at school and so on that we can do what we want, but of course, it isn’t as easy as that. As soon as children are thrown into the mix it becomes enormously complicated. I guess there are two reasons for that – the erosion of the family support structure and the inflexibility of the modern marketplace. It’s hard. I think I’ll get a dog and a ute and go bush!

    I do think a lot of men feel this way too; they feel bound to their job, particularly in these economic times. I am enormously grateful that a level of equality has been achieved with regard to the right to vote, control over our own bodies and opportunities in the workplace. Yet I wonder if instead of being slaves to our gender we are now slaves to our aspirations. I don’t know – I’m thinking and writing aloud!

    You’re right. It’s not appropriate to blame the feminist movement because look at what they achieved – quite amazing considering those thousands of years of a patriarchal society. I also think we need a second wave of feminism to come through. I’d like to call it humanism because it should be about all of us not just about one gender. I imagine us throwing off the chains of corporate oppression. I think the corporations (and government to a certain extent) have too much control over the costs of our basic needs like food and housing and this places enormous pressure on us.

    I read an article the other day about women aged 20-25 who just want to get a rich husband, have kids and stay at home. They weren’t necessarily bimbo, materialistic types either; they were the children of mothers who had gone out to work, put the kids in child care for 40 hours a week while continuing to run a house and everything else that went with it. In their fifties the mothers just about collapsed from exhaustion. These young women saw their mothers go through that and just don’t want it for themselves.

    Is that the fault of feminism? Not necessarily. I think the unaffordability of modern life, particularly in the cities, is more to blame. When an average family home costs ten times your combined annual income. Bam! Right there. That’s the problem. Sorry to go on a bit….

    I know a lot of women who do work to cover the ‘extras.’ They are in a really fortunate position. However, the bulk of us work just to pay the rent and it is disenchanting. I guess this is what a lot of people go through right before they decide it’s time for a seachange. I’m just having a ‘What’s it all about?’ moment!

    I am really glad you are in such a good place now. Hopefully, one day I will follow. Maybe I need to get involved in government policy or something. One thing I have discovered over the past few years is how difficult it is to get part time work (in any sector). Or to job share. Or to work from home. Many of my friends and I talk about it. It wasn’t as hard years ago. Companies cite a direct downturn in productivity as a result of too many part-time employees, but I wonder. I would like to change things. I don’t like seeing so many stressed out faces in the workplace. But where to begin?


  7. Modern technology being what it is, I suppose the ideal is one or both partners working from home. One lady I know (a single mother) says when her office door is open, her kids can come in any time; on the rare occasions it’s closed, she’s only to be disturbed ‘if there’s blood or flames involved’

    She just need to go to the office for half a day each week.

    Trouble is, a lot of people seem to think that working from home isn’t work at all, you MUST ‘go to work’. And they think you’re always available to give them a lift into town, or babysit while they pop to the shops or something ….


    I am in the process of trying to do that now. It really is the only thing that’s going to work for me. Time to put the pedal to the metal in a literary sense. I hope I can do it!


  9. Well, I love what I do and often feel guilty that I can’t work from home or be around more often. I feel that I am a slug because I don’t stay home with my son. I could have — but would have been imprisoned in a horrible marriage. I feel it is a constant juggle because I am trying to carve a teeny tiny life of my own from within Jake’s humongous life. It is frustration for sure, but I have solace that when he goes to college — I will have a whole huge part of a life to fill. Plus, that is what I took on as a parent. A single parent.
    I make compromises and frankly, let some shit go.It is way more important to me to write a bit or play some board games with Jake than do laundry for example. If my kitchen is a mess because we took a drive to chase the moon — so be it.
    I don’t blame the feminism movement for what this life is now, for what it did — was give us choices. And choices are always difficult to make. But I would rather have choices than be bound to an optionless life.
    It is not feminism that has caused this — it is bloody commercialism. We (men and women) are bound by what we should do, should have, should go. That is the real enemy here. A lot of food for thought, Sel. I really dug this post, btw.
    Have you seen “Revolutionary Road”? I think you’d really dig it.


  10. I agree with hurricane. It’s not feminism that’s to blame. Certainly I took 21 months off work, then did the part time thing, and had a very flexible job for a while. It hurt us financially but it is what it is. I could have gone back to work. But I chose to make a life detour. (We call it the mommy track.) And I’m glad when it was clear that when I couldn’t take it any more the option to go to work was available to me.


    I don’t really mean to slam feminism because of course, I wouldn’t even be writing this post at all if not for the movers and shakers in the feminist movement as it would be very unlikely I would have a voice.

    Commercialism is the culprit, for sure. So much stuff filling up our lives and making it overly complicated. It is hard to avoid it. I guess I feel guilty for not doing enough but also weary from doing too much. I find myself in a place of contradictions.

    I’m glad too. Unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of friends who’ve done the same thing only to find their jobs were no longer available or that they had been moved ‘sideways.’ Life is tough. I need to stop bemoaning the fact it is no longer the 1970s when everything was more affordable and just get on with it!


  12. well i have to agree that in my opinion the women’s movement did nothing to equalize the staus of women,, it just gave us the privilege of working a full time job in addition to all the other things women are “supposed” to do…

    having spent the majority of my life working hard and never getting ahead,, i have learned to settle for working less and making it.. at least i am left with a fair amount of time for me…


  13. Well, its tough for me to have completely valid input here as I don’t have kids. I will say that I think a lot of women feel as you do… Like we’re spinning our wheels, and not really getting anywhere. …and in answer to your question about self-sabotage, I believe it is absolutely we who sabotage ourselves the most ruthlessly. The way we can talk to ourselves, and be unable to imagine more for ourselves in a way that we truly believe it to be possible. Men and women do this, but mostly women.


  14. PAISLEY:
    It is so important to get that time for ourselves. Restorative and energising. Look where working for the ‘man’ has got all of us regardless of gender – a global economy in crisis, levels of debt we’ve never seen before, a broadening gap between rich and poor. Something’s gotta give. I’m going to spend more time in the garden listening to the birds!

    Your input is more than valid. We do spin our wheels. I often feel like I’m stuck in mud or that I’m putting the brakes on when considering the possibilities. You make such an important point.


  15. I have a website. It is done by an LDS woman, but the content is nondenominational, and embraces all women of all cultures and religions. She has 70 “circles” worldwide and growing – I am starting my own here this year for me and my girls. The website is: She says she has some circles that are strictly women who are without daughters.

    I tell you about this because it was an answer to my own questions. When I went to the conference I realized that I was embarking on a career. This wasn’t just a hobby anymore – Mom was serious about becoming SUCCESSFUL. Then all those demons reared their heads that I heard in the 80’s – there IS no superwoman, you can’t have it all, sacrifice has to be made somewhere, your family will suffer. I needed to know I could still take care of my family AND have a career. I know now that I can.

    I have met women who DO both, successfully, and have peace and harmony in their lives. This princess academy thing is brought on by a woman who submits that when women went to work in the 40’s due to WWII, they found that they weer lacking in education. so when the baby boomers hit, they focused on education rather than the home ARTS, and much has been lost. These circles help women fill in the gaps and potential women to be more educated in THOSE arts as well as educated in academics, giving them a more balanced lifestyle.

    I tell you all that because I think we have to acknowledge that women need to be fulfilled, and sometimes we don’t know where to find that fulfillment. Sometimes we feel guilty for looking beyond the home, and sometimes we feel guilty because we don’t. Career, self, home & children – many duties can be overlapped into one – for instance, meal time. Too few families have one mealtime where they all sit around the table and eat with conversation. Yet, that takes care of so many needs, it’s frightening that people don’t do it.

    I don’t think we have to be Superwoman. I just think we have to be smart… and to do that, we have to be educated properly. Which, we aren’t. At least not in my case – but it’s never too late. 😉


    WOW. You are so busy. I agree with you that much of it comes down to education even if it’s just learning how to find the balance needed to reduce stress. You have given me much food for thought. I will need to come and check out your site!!


Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: