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.


  1. OOOOhh I feel cross just reading about it.. will have to go and dig out the article and froth at the mouth.

    BM x

  2. Yay! let's go and make cupcakes BM! Because that's all we have to do with our time, obviously - though of course we will wash it down with a vodka jelly to drown our misery whilst we're at it...

  3. I don't blame you for being cross! How very dare she?

  4. Humph! Well apparently mummies at home should be pill popping drunks! What a narrow view of stay at home mums.

  5. I have just read her article and to say the least, this sad little woman reeks strongly of her own guilt & self-importance.

    To critise other women and the roles they have in life is nothing short of depraved and attention-seeking.

    Sometimes women do not have a choice. But we get on with it anyway. She needs to do some research!

    Does she have nothing better to do than 'diss' her own gender?? What kind of woman is she? - she may be a hermaphrodite - who knows, who cares...

    This pathetic person should go back to her computer and think of article that is actually worth reading instead of that drivel.

    Sorry Potty for the rant - strong issue for me - bit of a feminist at heart....

    Here, I've made some hash cakes to go with vodka jellies...RMx

  6. And to think I burnt my bra for the likes of her to pontificate about the validity of the choices made by other women! I chose to have my children and I chose to stay at home with them whilst looking after the children of those women who either chose or were obliged to go back to work. I never considered any of our choices to be wrong.

    Anyway, on a lighter note, what's wrong with gin-sodden afternoons? Sitting outside in the sun with a large G&T sounds lovely to me....

  7. IN the to work or not to work there is no generic right answer. Each woman is different, each family is different and the right choice is entirely theirs. Personally, having had quite a high flying and stressful career at one point, I have never been as stressed, tired or worried as I have been since staying at home. Ever. Not even close. An endless round of coffee mornings and gin soaked afternoons? Not in my life! And can she run me through why that is quite so different from gossiping at the coffee machine and going out for lunch and not coming back until 3.30 having had a couple of bottles of wine?

    Better stop as I can feel myself getting a bit cross and starting to get verbal diarrohea. Cue frothing at the mouth next to Bush Mummy.

  8. Not wanting to wade into a work versus/SAHM debate, again. I think that people that dismiss, or diminish either are a bit silly.

    Can't believe I put my coffee down to type that, but I suppose I am lonely. Piffffffille.*Rolling Eyes Emotion*

    (Coffee bit's true though)

  9. Yeeeesh! Some people.

    As an in-betweener (i.e. WAHM), I know that being a SAHM is bl**dy hard work. I'm grateful to be able to have a break now and then to sit at my computer. Pretty much all mums work hard, whether they work for money or not. Grrrrrrrrrr! How anyone could think that looking after children is an easy option, I don't know.

  10. NH Mum, how very dare she indeed!

    CB, and as Winston Churchill once famously said, 'I may be drunk now Madam, but tomorrow I will be sober, whilst you will still be (substitute whatever you think appropriate)....'

    RM, I hope those cakes are chocolate flavour. And for the record I don't actually think that anyone could really be that bigoted; I think she was just looking to sell an article. At least, I hope so.

    Sharon, could we make it pimms instead?

    Brit, you and me both!

    SPD, you PUT YOUR COFFEE DOWN? What madness is this! (Loved today's post, btw)

    Tasha, exactly, one thing it isn't (unless you have more cash than I do and are helped up to the max) is easy.

  11. I think staying home to take care of two small children was the hardest thing I ever did in my whole life. It was a lonely job and very repetitious and mind numbing. I would rather have had an exciting job, but it was not in the picture, so I did what I did and took care of them. Don't let anyone convince you that it is easy and you don't get paid for it either. That's the hard part.

  12. Every mum has to work whether its in a job or being at home. I work myself but i would never go round telling SAHMs that they didn't work!!

    Being a mother is a full time job, i wish i had the financial stability not to go out to but i have no choice.

    That freedom of choice is what we all have the right to.... what a horrible women!! I will go now in case i start to foam at the mouth also x x x

  13. I read that and was horrified too.

  14. PM, just take pleasure in imagining SV taking a week off work to do our jobs. how well do you think she'd cope after a few days between us?!

  15. My Chime In this week has a similar theme and I think I may link to you this week because it fits in with our "comments" and not "debate." I, personally, work outside the home, but I believe that mothers who stay home also work and they do the best work anyone could ask. I thought we were all past that too, but go to a local Mothers of Preschoolers meeting and believe me, we're not. I felt like the worst mother because I wasn't home full time with Jonathan, even though he's either in my or his daddy's care almost all the time and when he isn't he is with a wonderful woman and interacting with other children (for a mere 4 hours a day).

  16. Irene, so true. Constant, 24/7. But to each their own. And it's such a brief time that I think it's worth it - for us. For OUR family. But I would never judge anyone else's.

    Amy, the one thing I've discovered since doing this is that the grass is (almost) always greener...

    Rosie, I think she was just being extreme for the sake of it. I do hope so.

    Grit, good question! (Mind you am not sure how well I cope myself)

    Lisa, that's the point. No-one should judge a mother's choice on this point, especially not a woman who is a mother herself. Having been both sides of the fence I know how hard both ways can be - and would, I hope, not pass judgement on someone who made a different choice to me. Life is just too short. Let's support each other rather than bring each other down.

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  18. You know what? I am a stay at home Mum. Evolving into a work from home Mum. And I am not entirely sure when it is I am meant to fit in all these boring coffee mornings and gin-soaked afternoons? If anyone knows, I really wouldn't mind being let in on the secret!!!! I could do with the down time to be honest!

    Poor woman is obviously so guilty about her decision to work and has to make herself feel better by running the rest of us down. I fiercely defend my privilege to be at home with my kids. We have made a lot of sacrifices for that to happen. I will be very sad when it comes to an end!

  19. The article was poorly written and ends badly with "But if we are unhappy, at least it’s an unhappiness of our own making. And that, when you consider the history of womankind, is progress indeed."

    If she were not so convinced of her own superior life, she could have reached the conclusion that progress is having choices.

  20. And I must add, as a working mom, I come home to do full time mom on the weekends and I'm not sure what downtime Sarah is referring to. My little girl keeps me going almost non-stop, she's down to 2 little naps a day. I'd like to know where this downtime is she's referring to. Is there a magical age when one can sit around and make cupcakes while downing martini's?

  21. *clap clap*

    I applaud this post. This woman so needs to get over herself.

    It infuriates me. It's the dilemma I am having right now, and I really don't need fools like this making such huge sweeping statements and generalizations .... I think people forget that motherhood is a full time job. Grrr!

  22. Oh that makes me so mad. I think you've said it all. It also reminded me of Noble Savage's latest post about how women are pitted against each other in the media. It's crap.

  23. the loneliness, the intellectual invisibility, the simmering resentment, the gin-soaked afternoons

    ... all this from a News International journalist, too. Irony is, apparently, very much still with us.

    I have met Mrs Michael Gove once or twice before - she's quite pleasant really - but Rebel Mother hit the nail on the head. There's probably more guilt, regret and special pleading in this story than we realise. But that's no excuse for reducing someone else's parenting choices to the stuff of feeble caricature.

    Brilliant post, anyway - SV's article made me so furious I wouldn't have trusted myself to write about it - so glad that you did so, so well, instead!

  24. Amen! I don't know why these divides have to be created and put up between mothers. It's like becoming a mother sends you back to high school with competition and putting people down for not being in the right motherhood groups. I am forever bewildered as to why some mothers just can't respect other mothers choices. We're not parenting by democracy - our choices are own.

  25. Well done you. I'm an in-betweener too (sometimes work from home Mum, but mostly stay at home Mum) and I'm bloody sick of this sort of attitude. Why make war between the 'dos' and the 'don'ts'.

    I've said so many times that it's all about sisterhood - supporting your fellow woman - we're all in the same boat, or does she choose not to realise this for the sake of a freelance fee?

    Did you see the first comment on the piece?:

    " why did you even bother to have children if, actually, all you want to do is work and feel empowered by that. I promise you after a week they wouldn't miss you. I am sure your children do though (hopefully). "

    Hahaha. What she said. xx

  26. Frankly, I feel very miffed - having done all permutations (working, staying at home, working from home, office, you name it) I can honestly say the last time I was drunk in the afternoon was before children. Clearly I am missing out!! PM, with you all the way, well said x

  27. Ish couldn't reed the artcle for Iz woz too sloshed on the gin to sea straight. *hic*

    I just laugh at piffle like this now, it's so obviously a lack of self-confidence in her own decision.

    P.S. - Could you allow the Name/URL option for comments, pretty please? *flutters eyelashes*

    Noble Savage

  28. Directed here by Twitter (never thought I'd write that sentence!) and can see why you're mad. Totally agree with DulwichDivorcee that only time ever had the indulgence of being rat-arsed in the afternoon was when worked in an office (as a journalist as it happened).
    Home with kids? Office without? Know which is easiest - no contest.

    And yes,it is a bit boring for this debate to still lumber along in the dailies.....

    Totally disatisified WAHM here, waiting for the first cupcake and gin of the day....

  29. Dear me, this is obviously still one of those subjects. I am currently on maternity leave, my first baby is due in July. I have no idea whether I will go back to work after the baby comes because I have no idea how I will feel. I know one thing though, I will not judge myself or allow other people to judge me whatever decision I make. the article is written from how she thinks she would feel if she stayed home, not from experience and so I personally will be taking no notice of her at all.

  30. MdP, me too - was just thinking about Boy #2 starting school today - and feeling ambivalent...

    RB, I think the magical age she mentions is when they leave home for university... Although my mum still doesn't get to make that many cupcakes.

    mrs OMG, it's a thorny issue. The only thing I would say is to make no decisions before you start maternity leave. You have up to a year to make up your mind if you need it, so don't get forced into taking a decision one or the other pre-baby as who knows how you'll feel after it arrives? (After my first, I was desperate to go back!)

    Jo, thanks for the pointer, will check it out!

    Fugitive Ink, thanks for visiting and commenting - and am intrigued to hear you've met her. I have no doubt she is perfectly nice person in the flesh, and was just looking to sell a story. That doesn't make what she wrote any more palatable, however.

    NML, 'not parenting by democracy' - very true. As my sons can attest...

    EM, thanks for visiting and commenting and I think you're right - it's the freelance fee talking. I should probably just have risen above it (we all probably should) but every now and again I come across something like this and think 'right! That's IT!' and wade in. No doubt I'll regret it.

    DD, now that you mention it, I can't my remember my last hazy afternoon either. And that's just not fair! I shall have to go back to work to recapture those days.

    Amity, I would do it if I could (for comments) but have had a look and can't work out how. Will try and find out...

    Exmoorjane, thanks for visiting and yes, whilst you're ringing the bell for your cupcake and g&t can you find out where mine is?

    DF, thanks for the visit and wise woman not to make any decisions until the baby's arrived!

  31. Popped in via the AM blog to state my vociferous support for your standing up and having at go at these seriously tedious Times journos who've been churning out the same old crap for as long as I can remember. In fact, I blogged the same subject back when I blogged - enjoy!

    Only solution that I can work is to grow a rhino-hide attitude, and stay away from 'wimmins' sections and the poisonous rubbish they contain.

    Tried switching to the Guardian in protest once, only to find the same February week, they ran no fewer than 7 mummy-hating articles, including the infamous Rachel Cooke 'Dummy Mummies' just can't win!

    And people are still wondering why women aren't happy - will someone please give me that research grant!

    But well said and well done for getting noticed!

  32. Having pontificated about what's better or worse ever since my pregnancies in 2002/3, I have come to the conclusion that there is opportunity either way. At the end of the day I have decided that staying home is my choice and a privilege. As hard as it is - yes, I do miss being sharp, attractive, energetic and AND noticed, may I add - my kids need me. It's that simple. I consider my staying at home a personal investment into the future. Already I can see the dividends when my children exclaim in front of their class: I love my mommy. She is the best mommy! Now try your boss.

  33. Hi Melissaria, thanks so much for visiting and commenting - and for taking on some those rather scary mums in the Alpha Mummy comments box!

    Reality Mum, thankyou for stopping by and yes, good point. Though of course I couldn't make it - being an image of calm and impartiality and all...

  34. Very behind on my Reader following holiday so a bit late in commenting but do feel your piece merits comment.

    I am always disappointed to hear women doing each other down all the time. If organising sock drawers and resenting a family she is part of is what staying at home is all about to her then good on her for getting out to work. Her choice does not belittle anyone else's to stay in the home. There is so much more to staying home than housework (especially round mine) yet it is all anyone seems to focus on. Being with your children all day is very rewarding but also has its challenges. Meeting other parents and socialising is an important aspect of raising children and preparing them for their own forays into the world. As is the gin :)

    *Sigh* writing material like she has is devisive and disrespectful. Potty Mummy, I think your post is excellent and you have expressed the frustrations I'm sure many of us feel eloquently. So: hear hear.


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