>> Friday, 5 June 2009
I am sick of this.
Sick, sick, sick.
We are staying at my parents at the moment, and since they are more organised than I am and buy a paper every day, I managed to get a look at today's Times, and read this. Boy, did I wish I hadn't. Not because I disagree with Sarah Vine's overall point that equality of the sexes isn't quite the Holy Grail we were promised it would be, and that whilst having choices - as a woman - doesn't necessarily mean a guarantee of happiness, we should just get on and enjoy what we can whilst we have it. I think, on those points, she's absolutely right.
No, what gets right up my nose are the cheap shots she takes at 'mothers who don't (work, of course).' She's grandstanding, in the worst way. Apparently, as a 'mother who doesn't (work, of course)' this is is my life:
'...the endless coffee mornings, the loneliness, the intellectual invisibility, the simmering resentment, the gin-soaked afternoons; and I thought, not in this life. I may be considerably more grumpy and a lot less groomed than if I had been born a few decades earlier; but at least I’m not off my head on tranquillisers, or drowning at the bottom of the dishwasher.'
Pardon me if I take exception to those sweeping generalisations, or to the assumption that I DON'T WORK. I do work. Bloody hard. Certainly harder than I ever had to do whilst I was in paid employment, as a working mother.
But you know what? Tempting as it is, I'm not going to get into a mud-slinging match between 'mothers who do and mothers who don't (work, of course)', because that is in fact the aspect of her article that I take most exception to. (And I know that's not great English but I am currently too cross to work out how to improve it).
For chrissake. I thought we were past all that. Sniping about who does and doesn't work, who is and isn't doing the right thing for their children, who has and hasn't made the right choice. Surely the one thing that we should all have learnt as mothers is that whichever choice you make - to be a 'mother who does, or a mother who doesn't (work, of course)' - it is one which at times you are bound to regret (should I have taken that promotion? Should I have kept the job?), and to which there is no finite solution.
What's right for one family would be completely wrong for another. We are ALL working mothers. I am a working mum. It just so happens that, for now, my work is to stay home with my kids.
I understand Sarah's choice, and I respect it. Hell, it was my choice until my younger son arrived. But now that I have - temporarily at least - chosen to step away from a career to look after my sons, I'm sick of apologising and keeping my head down in case, by admitting to that, I attract the ire of the working mummies.
And I would like to ask if, just for once, there's any chance that my choice could be respected too.