Today I was listening to a discussion about paid maternity leave, and paternity leave also came into the discussion. Whether or not one agrees with the concept of either or both is beside the point, but it seems the former is here to stay, at least in Australia, for the foreseeable future. Just how it will work out for employees and employers is yet to be seen. Some firms already have a type of maternity leave, other do not.
I do feel that people today want more worldly goods than we even thought about when we were young, and to achieve these ends it seems that both members of a partnership have to work to reach their goals. Whether many couples could actually survive if only one partner was working in today's world is difficult to know. So many things and attitudes are different today from those 'way back then'. Some workers earn huge salaries today, while others on the minimum wage do not.
When I first married I was 21 years old and had a very good position as an assistant claims clerk in a well known insurance company in Perth. Back then, when you married, if you worked for a bank or an insurance company you had to give up your job. It was the rule. Although married women were employed by those enterprises they were usually older women, probably past child bearing age, such as Mrs Harvey who was my immediate boss.
It may seem strange to young people in this modern world but that's how it was and we didn't argue about it. After our marriages, if we wanted to continue working, we would seek employment where your married state didn't matter to your employer.
A similar rule applied to women having a baby. They would be allowed to work up to a certain stage of their pregnancy and then they would leave that job and probably not think of returning to the workforce until they had the number of children they'd planned to have (or didn't plan to have, whichever the case may have been).
I did find several jobs after my first marriage, one of which, in 1954, was a temporary position with the Teacher's Union here in W.A. As it happens the union was fighting for equal pay for female teachers and therefore they paid the male basic wage to their female employees. The basic wage at that time, if I remember correctly, was about £12 per week. I was in that job for 6 months so did very well on that salary. I think most stenographers at that time would have been earning £6 to £8 per week. When that temporary position ended I found part-time office work until I became pregnant with my first baby. As it happened I was told to leave work and rest to prevent possible problems with the pregnancy. Those problems did not happen and my beautiful daughter was born later that year.
I became a house mum, had no car so mainly it was public transport or Shank's pony. I made nearly all my children's clothing whether or sewn or knitted (as well as making my husband's work shirts) and it was a busy life. I eventually got a part-time job for a short while when both my children were at school so was always there when they arrived home. I had no yearning to be back doing office work but was content just being there for everyone and never felt I was a lesser person just being a 'housewife' I do hate that term. I have nearly really seen myself as being married to a house but that's another story!!
No more about that now as I will speak of those years when I continue with 'Telling it on Tuesday'. My main reason for writing this post was to show the changes that have taken place in the past 60 years. Are those changes all good ones I wonder? From an older person's point of view, home and family are so important. Should modern mums (or dads for that matter) stay home at least for a few years after their children are born? Are children any better off today being placed in child care rather than being home with their mums? I guess that depends a lot on each particular mother. There are those mums who teach their little ones from an early age so those children are ready to start school with knowledge already learned at home. Unfortunately, there are mothers who are not equipped to teach their children a lot and if those mums go to work then maybe their children do well in child care facilities and the family is better off financially.
There are so many ifs, buts and ands, and there is not just one solution that fits every situation. Are people, families, better off? Do they still have the leisure time we once had? They earn much more, have great labour saving devices in their homes but, from what I've heard, many work longer hours and have no choice in the matter. Do families today share lots of quality time together? They have TV, computers, iPads, iPhones etc etc. Those items to me don't seem to bring people together as we once were together. Is the art of spoken communication being lost?
Me? I am glad I was born when I was, even if it was in the middle of the Great Depression, even if we lived through a world war and other minor wars that followed. We were fortunate as we survived those turbulent times; many unfortunately did not. Perhaps we didn't have much money, but could still afford annual holidays where we catered for ourselves and had so much fun. They were good days and I do so worry about younger people today and what their future holds for them.
I know this 'thinking' began about maternity leave and became rather generalised but one thought led to another which is often the way with me when I begin thinking seriously. Sorry about that but I like to express myself honestly so hope I've not trodden on anyone's toes. I would be interested to hear from other people of varying ages as I find the opinions of other people so very interesting.