According to the first release of data from the 2016 Census, the average Australian is a 38-year-old woman. She is a high school graduate, born in Australia of English ancestry. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has named her ‘Claire’. ‘Claire’ is married with two kids, works full time and lives with her family in a three-bedroom mortgaged home. Her family owns two cars.
Like many others I don’t exactly fit the profile. I guess many of us differ in some way … whether it’s age, a couple of extra children, different ethnicity and/or living situations. Despite these differences, ‘Claire’ has captured my imagination. I wonder what her average day holds. I wonder how she balances it all. I wonder if ‘Claire’ is tired, moody, a little run down. Is ‘Claire’ doing the school run with chipped nail polish on her toenails? Is her greying hair screaming out for a haircut? I wonder if she is regularly confronted with a seemingly endless line of baskets filled with unfolded laundry. Does she have a long forgotten closet of clutter that has developed a life-force of its own? ‘Claire’ do have specks of dried up cookie dough adorning your kitchen cupboards?
I know for a fact that ‘Claire’ is most likely doing more housework than her partner. The Census data revealed that the average Australian woman spends between five to 14 hours a week doing unpaid domestic housework, compared to the typical Australian man, who spends less than five hours a week doing unpaid domestic housework. I assume her role as ‘mother of two’ also incorporates the duties of a nurse, tutor, stylist, event organiser, logistics and transport operator, counsellor, disciplinarian, negotiator, laundromat, cook, cleaner and distributor of perpetual cuddles. I’d imagine that she’d often feels time-pressed and stressed as she strives to balance all these duties with her full-time job.
Are you tired ‘Claire’? Are you like many other mothers, relying on the scraps of time that are given to you to do things for yourself. Have you ever felt like you have lost your sense of self? Have you ever been so overwhelmed and exhausted that you have fallen to the floor in a heap of helplessness? Have you ever felt alone in your role as mother, despite being surrounded by so many people? Do you feel horribly guilty for the shards of impatience that are directed at your children?
I’d like to believe that ‘Claire’ is able to answer ‘yes’ to most of my questions. There is strange comfort in knowing that the ‘Average Australian’ is slogging it out day to day, much like many other amazing mothers I know.
So to all of you mothers out there, average or not. You are doing things that are beyond average … almost superhuman … dishing out slabs of unconditional love with the dinner you make, even if it’s met with grunts. You are examples of selflessness and true grit. You make everything happen, going about your day doing things that really matter. Things that the world often fails to acknowledge, things that census data could never capture.