Being a Stay At Home Mum – My Choice
I discovered this blog today through Twitter. Retro Woman Revolution, which I hope she will not mind me linking to as it is seems a good starting point.
To be honest, I am a bit confused by the post – being a working mum means I would be a cold, emotionless shark but being a Stay at Home Mum turns me into a vacuous, easy manipulated zombie. Is there a third option?
For our family, several factors contributed to the decision that we made. I am at present a Stay at Home Mum (SAHM) but that may well change in the future.
Having time to spend with my children is fine and good but I must admit to missing the cerebral challenges and, if I am honest, the social contacts of work.
Working mums (WOHM) are not cold, calculating barracudas. They are loving mothers who either have to work to support their family or wish to work so as to further their career. Should they be berated for this? For seeking to use the education that they have studied for, for not giving up the position that they worked hard to achieve, for doing their best to juggle career and family.
Sure, there are a few women who put their career above their family – I am certain there are, but it is truly unfair to condemn millions of working mums for the failures of a handful of selfish women. And these women would be selfish if they were working mums or stay at home mums.
In the same way that there are good SAHMs and bad ones. If motherhood can be measured in terms of “good” and “bad”. We have good days and bad days, we make mistakes, we are human, not emotionless robots.
I take exception to the assertion that SAHMs are “excitable lunatics” – or is that just MN we are talking about? – obsessed with cleaning and keeping our children safe. Perhaps a quick glance at the Mumsnet website would give that impression but there are enough of us who would refute that suggestion. My husband would laugh like a drain if he were to read that I am seen to be a cleaning obsessed housewife.
For me, feminism is not about equality but about choice.
The choice to say, “I am quite happy being a SAHM” or to say, “I want to work”.
I am fed up of the way in which women are constantly berated and made to feel guilty. We are smothering our children, or neglecting them. We are career-crazy bitches or needy, neurotic homemakers. We are damaging our children by working or by staying at home. Bad enough that we are criticised by men for this, but when we start to attack each other, no one wins.
One only has to have a peek at the Mumsnet threads on SAHM vs WOHM to see how heated the debate becomes. Particularly on parenting websites, this debate is impassioned as it is rarely a theoretical debate – when posters feel that their lifestyle has been attacked then it is difficult to remain neutral and objective.
Why can we not celebrate the fact that we have the ability to choose how to lead our lives, and applaud the feminists of the past decades who have made this possible.
Feminism is not dead, it is alive and evolving, but it means different things to different people.
So if you want to be a WOHM, a SAHM or even a Retro-Feminist I will respect that decision.
In return, I request that those who have chosen a different road to travel respect my decision and neither ridicule, berate nor abuse me for making the choice that is the best for me and my family at this time.
Great post. You are absolutely right, feminism is about choice. No one should be vilified for the choices they make. I'm a working mum (I run my own business), it's difficult to sometimes get the balance right between home & work. This is the choice I have made though & tip-toe a fine line to get it to work. Sometimes it fails & work comes first. When this happens my husband fills the breach. We're a partnership, we both work & are both parents. We share responsibility equally to ensure our home is happy. My husband's choice has always been to be a hands on dad. I don't want to live in a world where my husband & I don't have a choice. I also wouldn't dream of judging or stereotyping people who choose to run their lives differently. Your post is spot-on. Elsie x (http://babylonlanetales.com)
Thanks, Elsie. I noticed when you posted that I barely mentioned my husband in my post. Of course you are correct, it is the support from him that enables me to be a SAHM, in the same way that my support enables him to concentrate on his career.
Readers of the blog I linked to will see that Naomi has posted some slightly less flattering comments about this blog post, to which I have replied. I hope that we can now have a civilised, adult discussion about our ideals and opinions without name calling.
Since Naomi from RetroWoman blog feels that it is unnecessary to post my reply to her comment, I will post it here.
I use a screen name on my blog, like many other bloggers to protect my identity. Not because I am hiding, but because I do not wish for anyone googling my name (and I have a very unusual name) to find my blog – this could be anyone from a prospective employer, to acquaintance, to colleague of my husband. It is about privacy, not hiding and certainly not about protecting myself from libel accusations. If you reread my blog you will see that I have not called you a twat, a charva, a barracuda, or any of the other words that you use to describe Mumsnetters. Where have I libelled you? I have disagreed with your opinion, which is the price you have to pay when you put your opinion out there. If you had read my Twitter feed, then you will know that I asked about the blogging etiquette of linking to a blog. I did not do it to ridicule you, but to start a discussion and to state my opinion. You used Twitter to malign Mumsnet, so you are hardly in a position to complain about me discussing your blog.
I am sorry if I misunderstood your blog, but you do write that WOHM are "cold, calculating vicious barracudas" and then go on to state that SAHMs are "little better". I based my blog post on your post. I did have a look at the rest of your blog but had the impression that you were not very complimentary about SAHMs – or is it just Mumsnetters that you see as being "manipulated zombies". These are not misquotes, they are taken from your blog and are in context.
You also state that I am not thinking straight. I am sorry to say that I take exception to this. I read several posts on your blog and came away not sure of your philosophy. You are extremely scathing of both SAHMs and WOHMs.
I refute most heatedly your assertion that I agree with your views. At present I am a SAHM through choice and current personal circumstances. This will almost certainly change when we leave Switzerland and I am again able to work. I will not go back to work full time, unless it is financially necessary but I will work. Perhaps from home, perhaps out of the home but I do not intend to stay home for the rest of my life.
How is it feminism to rely on your husband for the rest of your life? What about those women who stay at home, raise their children and are left by their husbands when they are in their 40s or 50s – left with no work experience, no hope of returning to the work force. Should their husbands continue to support them for the rest of their lives? What about women who are single mothers, or who do not have the luxury of staying home, even if they would like to. Or those who have not had the â€œfortuneâ€ of marrying a rich man? Or who fall in love with a fantastic, wonderful man like my brother â€“ he is a chef so will never earn big money.
It is not a case of finding a way to live on one pay packet – what a simplistic and naive view of the world you have. Here in Geneva area rent of a 3 bedroom house or apartment costs upwards of CHF 2000 – just under Â£1000 a month. That is a starting price, for a crap, shoddy, damp apartment in a grotty area of town. A decent house will set you backat least Â£2500 a month. How many normal people can afford that on one pay packet?
You "prove" your argument that Mumsnet is a forum of bullies by cherrypicking anecdotes about Mumsnet from websites that suit your own purpose. Where is your view backed by statistics? You did not link to articles that speak in favour of Mumsnet. You did not link to threads such as the current Secret Santa one, where Mumsnetters donate gifts to those who are less fortunate than they are. You did not link to threads where bereaved mothers find support, or women suffering from domestic violence are offered advice and assistance to leave their abusive partners. Do you know that with the support of Mumsnet, several women have escaped abusive relationships? Do you know how many frantic women have sought and found advice on learning that their husbands have been having an affair? Mumsnet is not a fluffy website, and if you had spent any time on the website before jumping in to advertise you blog there, you would have known that. You sought out Mumsnet for the express purpose of finding readers for your blog â€“ this is frowned upon both by MNHQ and the posters on the board, which is presumably why your thread was removed, not because MNHQ does not accept criticism.
Finally, I would like to state that I am very sorry to hear that your mother let you down. That she was not there for you. It is a terrible thing for anyone to go through and I understand your anger towards her sometimes encompasses other working mothers. Have you ever thought that your mother was simply a selfish person? That if it had not been her career that kept her from the family home, it would have been something else. Perhaps she would have spent time at the golf course, or having lunch with friends, or some other out of home activity that she would have found more important than her family.
You are entitled to your views. I may not agree with them but I do respect them. When you attack me, when you attack the entire Mumsnet community, you weaken your own position. I hope that you continue to blog about an alternative, modern way of raising a family, I find your ideas interesting and I do share some of your views that such as the avoidance of processed food. I would be very interested in reading more of your posts on these topics and less rants about how other women are failing their children.
I wish you and your husband a wonderful, fulfilling life together in a happy house full of children.