Someone left a Daily Mail in a reception that I had a long wait in.
That is my justification for reading it.
I didn’t buy it.
Just wanted you to know that…
Anyway, there was an article with the headline;
“Motherhood was better in the 70s and 80s.”
It dealt primarily with the fact that mums are now expected to work and essentially how unfair that all is – and how guilty they feel.
(OK, I may have picked out the bits that annoyed me most…)
It did lead me to think about the bigger picture of this, and talk to mums about it.
- Just what actually ARE today’s pressures?
- Did women before us fight for us to have it all, only for us to end up with more than we could handle?
- Or more than we even wanted?
- Did we win the fight… or do we need to redefine it for today’s World?
Here’s what came up:
Working / Stay at Home Mums
As money is currently tighter for most families than it has ever been, a second income for many has become essential rather than a ‘pin money’ activity. However the UK is still organised with a Dickensian system of 6 week school holidays (for children to work on the farms!), school days that are a good few hours shorter than most working days, and nursery fees that are entirely unaffordable. Those that decide that they can manage to spend the first few years at home feel ‘judged’ by those that work (however true or not that is), and those that go to work feel the same – with the added burden of racing round trying to drop and deliver offspring, calling in favours, and sweet-talking grandparents to make the whole thing work. Truth is; stay-at-home are not having coffee mornings and watching Loose Women all day, and working mums are run ragged (a couple said they went to work ‘for a rest!’)
“Before I had my twins I had a good job in finance. People used to say to me “aren’t you ever going to have children?”
When I had the boys, I looked after them for the first two years full-time.
People said “You must be bored at home all day – when are you going back to work”.
When I went back to work, people said “Don’t you feel bad leaving them in a nursery all day?”
Vanessa, Self-proclaimed knackered mother of 3 year-old terrorists.
Living in a Show Home
I have previously looked at the fact that our homes reach new levels of cleanliness when we know someone is coming round – and the rest of the time it looks like the Vikings have been through it. Labour-saving devices are not a luxury, but a human right, in 2013. Rather than just clean and comfortable, we now strive for Next Directory/IKEA/Country Living (depending on your persuasion) perfection. Keeping up with the Joneses is now a global addiction – with every other advert and show telling us what is ‘must-have’, setting the standards at credit-card melting levels of expenditure. Kim and Aggie tell us that we are all going to die as there is a microbe in the toilet, and we sanitise our little Worlds to within an inch of their lives.
“Motherhood is about compromise and being happy with the choices you make. I chose to live life without luxuries in order to meet my children from school each day.
I am the mother that is using her smart phone at the playground,
I pay for child care one day a week but my self employed job requires me to work more than one day a week so I have to fit it in somewhere.
I choose to spend time with my children or working rather than cleaning my house.
Others make different choices”
‘I believe our parents did the best job they knew how to do – Savage Garden”
Anna – WiggleWaggle Mum
Stylish Celebrity Mums
Whoah! I did not expect the weird combination of spitting vitriol and adoration towards the ‘Stylish Celebrity Mums’ by actual real, proper front-line mums. Whilst we are not daft and KNOW they have nannies, cleaners, personal trainers, travelling nutritionists/chefs, stylists, personal shoppers, lighting technicians and photoshop specialists… those pictures and messages seem to infiltrate womens self confidence, all the same. The graft of mum-work is not conducive to glamour. Having clothes decorated by childrens’ sick, burps, toilet stains (sorry!!), mashed banana, Moon Dough and so on – coupled with extreme sleep deprivation and physical/mental exhaustion… safe to say, most of us are not ready for our close ups!
“I used to alternate photos of Gwyneth, Posh and Angelina on my fridge to help me stick to my diet.
If they can do it – then so can I, I would reason.
A very miserable 6 months passed where I shed a little baby flab and what was left of my self-esteem.
What has actually helped is stopping buying womens magazines. Much happier now!
Jenni – Wise & Gorgeous Mum
‘The Perfect Mum’ Definitive Checklist
- Go to work full time, part time, or work in the home looking after the children
- Have a beautiful sparkly stylish home, or one which just doesn’t pose too many environmental health issues.
- Get back to your baby shape fast, over time, or not at all.
- Get your clothes from Designers, Primark, Charity Shops or from the bedroom floor.
- Get all your enjoyment from family life – or do things outside the home, for yourself that make you fulfilled.
- Make every school request a home-made family activity project, or send something in from M&S.
- Never allow TV on in the house, or subscribe to Cartoon Network for some peace.
- Have or don’t have a games console.
- Take your children to all after-school activities, some, one, or none.
- Teach your children to read before they get to school, or let them play in mud all day
But seriously ladies, let’s all give each other a break.
Sadly a lot of the pressure we feel comes from ourselves… and dare I say it – other women.
Life is in the grey area, there are very few ‘completely right or wrong’ ways of doing this.
Tabatha put it brilliantly:
No such thing as the perfect parent we just do the best we can.
I have been lucky to make the choice to stay at home with them in the early years.
Also I have been lucky enough to do my course so I can be self employed when they are at school,
I also think I have needed something else outside of the children.
I love them but do find that I need some time away.
Sometimes I do get bored and I do need my own space to be me not just Seb and Abby’s mummy.
I think that there is so much mothers guilt as to whether we go to work or stay at home.
We should stop comparing ourselves and our children to others as there really is no point, we are all different and so are they.
We all parent differently but when it comes to it our battles are all the same – and all , all of us want is the best for our children.