I have a confession to make. But first, my day.
I woke anxious, worried about the tax return I haven’t done.
A list of questions from the accountant first hit my in-box last December. A gentle reminder followed in February. A phone call a few days later. Then yesterday, as I was scribbling notes in my writing class, another polite email flashed across my screen. I haven’t opened it yet but I know what it says.
Urgent is a relative concept. I know the tax return deadline is sometime this month. I’m grateful someone is prodding me to get it done. And I don’t want to cause them undue stress with my delays.
Coincidentally, the quarterly Business Activity Statements and Pay As You Go instalments I’m responsible for are also late. Everything is overdue.
But these deadlines are arbitrary. The sun will continue to rise and set whether my papers are shuffled on time or not.
I’m also fund raising for sport and organising an Annual General Meeting and compiling an annual report and promoting events happening this weekend. In life’s great juggle, sometimes it’s difficult to decide which rocks go in the jar first (sorry about that butchered metaphor). Finally, this morning, the tax return lodged itself firmly like a time-bomb in my chest.
In the car on the way to school The Ballerina was pensive, drawn; her furrowed brow a match for mine. The final year of high school weighs on her. The competing demands of six subjects and dance and choir and a looming exam block are ricocheting in her head.
Hoping to put her worries into perspective, I told her that when I’m feeling overwhelmed I pause and imagine what life must be like for homeless women who wake every morning wondering where they’re going to sleep that night. I tell her there are women in Australia, maybe in our suburb, who don’t have a home. Women who live in their cars or on friend’s sofas or with elderly parents because they don’t have the earning power or savings or old-school-tie to protect them when their marriage goes belly-up or they get sick or one of their children dies.
Life could be a whole lot more stressful than it actually is. Which is an important fact to hang onto when your heart is thumping at 6:30am over a silly tax return or biology assignment.
It’s International Women’s Day today and I read an amusing, scathing and depressing piece by Van Badham about the way of things for women in 2018. I reacted with guilt. Guilt for not having done more to buck the trend. And then I wrote about my guilt and felt better.
I spent today doing laundry and preparing my husband’s tax return. Reading this @vanbadham quiz plunged me even further into despair. #InternationalWomansDay https://t.co/IfwlChD8rE
— Angela Bensted (@twothumbswriter) March 8, 2018
The day ended on a much brighter note with a concert at The Ballerina’s school. Two orchestras, an ensemble, two bands and two choirs performed music composed only by female composers. It was uplifting. Particularly as a 12-year-old girl wrote the music which moved me most, a piece written for strings called Love and Peace.
Which brings me to my confession. Once, on a Saturday dedicated to local government elections in my state, I didn’t vote. It rained all day. Washing baskets beckoned. The result in my ward seemed like a foregone conclusion.
These are all profoundly inadequate excuses for not voting.
On a day when we reflect on the short history of women’s suffrage, when we rail against persistent gender bias from the nursery to the boardroom, I’m embarrassed that I tossed away such a hard-won privilege.
Like I say to my accountant every year, I promise to do better.