“She is Just A Mum. I imagine she sits around all day in her PJs, drinking tea and eating chocolate biscuits”
“Oh, she is a working mother. Her children are in nursery all day, the poor things”
Is that it? Are these the only options?
How much do we give up of our lives, our hopes, our dreams when we become mothers?
And when is it ok to say, “Right. Enough. I am not Just A Mother”
Today, I read a post on my favourite parenting blog FreeYourParenting about nurturing yourself. Clare talks about the every day stresses of family life, and how we can get away from it all, even if just for that one precious moment to prevent yourself screaming at your kids in frustration.
All this got me thinking about life, work, parenting, and finding the perfect balance.
When I read of parents who have not been out without the children in 3 or 4 years, or mothers who haven’t had a day away from their children, I wonder how they cope. Don’t you want a moment to yourself occasionally?
Obviously, this is only possible if you have the great fortune to have parents, family or friends who are willing and able to take your children or if you pay for a babysitter. I know it is nerve wracking leaving your child for the first time with a “stranger”, but try it out.
Don’t neglect your relationship because you are parents, and this goes for both mothers and fathers.
If your children are in nursery or school, meet for lunch without the kids. You may be able to do this in your lunch hour if you work close by your partner’s office. Go out for a meal with your husband/partner/friends or take an afternoon off and go to the cinema.
If you are happy to be a stay at home mum, and can financially swing it, that may be the right thing for you but don’t forget to look after yourself as well as your children.
If you are unable to stay at home, either for financial or other reasons then go for it. Get a job and put the children in childcare.
Some women are happy being SAHMs, some are miserable. If you are the latter, then don’t feel guilty about going back to work. And don’t let anyone make you feel less of a mother because your children are being cared for by someone else.
On a day when the MP Louise Mensch took a bashing for leaving an important hearing as she had to pick up her children from school, it is important to talk about how we as parents balance our daily lives. Gaby Hinsliff writes on her blog that attitudes to working parents need to change.
It’s the same in countless ordinary offices, where parents are quietly advised never to put anything down on paper about leaving early: just fabricate a client meeting every now and then and slip off early, like everyone else. It works. But it’s deeply dishonest, perpetuating the myth that it’s fine to work a 70 hour week or choose (as MPs do) between living several hundred miles from their children or dragging them up and down the motorway every weekend. And it’s an excuse for nothing to change.
I note that she writes that Ms Mensch was not picking up the children from their local school and driving home, she was going to her Northhamptonshire constituency – over 2 hour drive from London. Not really a “school run” as we would normally see it.
“Oh, but some of the men are fathers, they didn’t leave”, I have heard on Twitter – but this is not a reason for expecting Louise Mensch to stay. Why are they not being criticised for neglecting their children? Why do we hold Ms Mensch up as the baddie instead of applauding her commitment to her children. Which has likely been questioned often enough, since she is a working mother.
Why should we parents always have to justify ourselves?
As long as we do the work, why should others criticise the way in which we juggle our private and professional lives to get the job done?
The balance of motherhood. Tricky enough at the best of times, but even more difficult if society throws beanbags at us.