This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius The age of Aquarius Aquarius! Aquarius!
Harmony and understanding Sympathy and trust abounding No more falsehoods or derisions Golden living dreams of visions Mystic crystal revalation And the mind's true liberation Aquarius! Aquarius!
From Hair the Musical .... and from the Forty Year Old Virgin (of course).
Back in the sixties, when hippies were tuning in and dropping out, and women were burning their bras, the belief was that people could free themselves from existing hierarchies. There was going to be equality for all.
Thirty years on, the acid trip has long ended, Timothy Leary has kicked the bucket and the promised Age of Aquarius still hasn't dawned.
Of course, nowadays certain freedoms have been achieved - for the rich.
I know this guy - I'll call him Jeff - who works four days a week, and consequently has to watch his two pre-schoolers all day Friday (one of the days his wife works). He moved here from New York, and still keeps in touch with a lot of his filthy rich friends there. He informed me today that for the 'elite' female Manhattanite, the ultimate status symbol is no longer the megabucks career. In fact, it is the two fingers to the career thank you very much stance that is gaining in popularity for those lucky few whose spouses have hugely swollen bank accounts. The ultimate lifestyle is to not work and to have one, two or even more nannies working round the clock to look after your kids, freeing you up to live a life of fun and frivolity.
Now, these are not society women, just ones that were career high flyers before popping out the sprogs and who now fritter away their days having their hair done, buying Gucci loafers, playing tennis and having long $300 lunches (the lucky bitches!).
All well and good you might say, but my point is this: In the first place, isn't there a bit of an ethical issue here in that, as a woman, you are paying other women (less well educated than yourself and often illegal so you don't have to give them health benefits or a decent wage), to look after your kids/clean your house etc. Aren't such rich women often exploiting poorer women the same way men used to exploit women by tying them to hearth and home?
Secondly, have you ever been to New York on a weekend, and seen all those preppy kids being wheeled about in their strollers by their nannies, without a parent in sight? It's a very sad sight, I can tell you.
So Jeff tells me, without a trace of irony, that it's quite a chaotic nightmare, this one day of looking after the kids. He said, "I simply don't think that with rushing around and buying groceries and cleaning that I'm giving them a good level of attention. I think it would be so much better if I hired a nanny for the day and then had one hour of quality time with each of the kids."
"Two hours a week quality time?" I asked, thinking I'd misheard him.
"Yeah, I feel I would be able to give so much more to them in a concentrated period of time."
Now don't get me wrong, I find kids as irritating as the next person. (In fact, I have long wondered if I could patent a soundproof glass screen like they have in cabs, that I could put between myself and the screaming kids in the back, thereby guaranteeing a nice quiet drive. If suffocation occurs a light could go off or something?) But even though they often drive me nuts, everyone sane knows that what kids need more than anything is your time, quality or otherwise. You have to give it to them. Why? Just because.
And if you're rich and can buy huge blocks of time away from them, I don't know, there's something kind of sick about it. Like they're a commodity that you can pay someone to keep at arm's length, thus preventing them from getting their messy fingers on your designer gown.
Yes, I'd love to have nannies around the clock and go to clubs and sleep off hangovers and have kids I see for fifteen minutes a day. But if that is the greatest thing this upper echelon of women have achieved, I wonder if that is progress? Well, I just wonder.
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?