One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.
He ran up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled up in the bed, still in her pajamas, reading a novel.
She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.
He looked at her bewildered and asked, "What happened here today?"
She again smiled and answered, "You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world I did today?"
"Yes," was his incredulous reply, half shouting.Many mums can "get this" - when chatting with parents the assumption mum has all the time in the world because all she is doing is staying home with the kids, certainly rears it's head more than occasionally.
The smile remained, "Well, today I didn't do it."
But what got me thinking about it in more detail was a family column in my local paper.
I should say the column in general is not really my sort of read - the mum who writes it "timed out" her two year old (she hit her brother with a mascara in frustration when he wouldn't open it) and most of the content is what they have done that week and how clever or funny they are; great if you know them, a tad dull otherwise! Anyway in a recent issue the topic was working, and how she had returned full time with her first but now she had a second childcare made only part time feasible. There was lots of explanation about how of course she had worried but in fact the baby loved it - great. But the killing comment came at the end, that she felt her working was important to set a positive example for the children.
Now I've been a working mum, I've been a "stay at home mum" - and a range of things in between; but since when has being a mum at home been a bad example? Is mothering really valued so little it's so bad for her kids to think of her as "just a mum"?
I had a Google and here are some comments I found:
"I have been a SAHM for three years now and I love my kids and really want to stay at home for them, to enjoy them and be there for them, but lately I have been feeling very low in this role, very unworthy. I feel like a nobody."Or this, from a woman who returned to work after seven months at home:
"I can't be a full-time SAHM. I felt worthless and being dependent just did my head in. I am at work and I had to take down the photos of bubby because I am feeling very emotional."To be fair much of society is the same - Back in 2003 Ms Hewitt, Trade Secretary & Minister for Women admitted that:
"Mothers who remain at home rather than going out to work had been undervalued."
"The Labour Party had mistakenly given the perception that it was better if all women got jobs. Changes to tax credits to give more money to mothers who stayed at home had helped correct this. However, the government had failed to persuade the public to value women who stayed at home.
"We have got to move to a position where as a society and as a government, we recognise and we value the unpaid work that people do within their families."and a belief in women's rights - yet several thought motherhood was a waste of a woman and it took no skill to be a mother, even a stick insect could do it! They felt women should be in the workplace making a contribution to the economy, using the rights they were given.
Perhaps I'm a bit dim but forcing women into the workplace seems to me just as bad as not allowing them in it!
We end up with a situation where some women are feeling pressure to go out to low paid jobs, to pay someone to look after their child who has a lower paid job - often with little left over to show. We know that on the whole the best outcome in terms of the child is to be at home with a primary caregiver (the whole nursery teaches them social skills and essential socialisation is nothing but propaganda in a small infant) Sure many children are fine in their childcare and as I say I've worked; but we also know not all childcare is great and it impacts long term.
Even Ms Hewitt found these barriers:
Although the women and equality unit within her department had said women should go out and work to help the economy, Ms Hewitt argued that parents who stayed home contributed to the long-term health of the country as well.
|Katie's Daughter Princess with false eyelashes|
"Any child that has parents who are divorced are lucky. They get extra Christmas presents, birthday presents and extra trips,'Oh ok so two out of three have used a drug known to cause gang violence, death and suffering in the countries it is grown and trafficked, but hey they contribute heavily to the economy ergo they are amazing parents! Obviously.
Only judging mothers on the strength of their contribution to the current economic status is extremely short sighted. Most have paid into the system for many years and those who do choose to stay at home do so for a wide variety of reasons - to suggest mothering is a waste of a woman, underestimates the massive impact a mother has.
With a society more violent than ever before, depression rates through the roof and life for some children becoming more toxic by the day - perhaps it's time we started measuring the worth of a woman based on more than a few pennies in a pot. What's more if mothers don't value mothering, who will?
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