Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Let stay at home mums stay at home

So yesterday I was reading one of the pull out sections of the weekend newspaper, when I stumbled upon an article by a woman called Wendy Tuohy banging on about the differences between men and women. Don't worry, today's post is not a battle of the sexes one, as that has been done to death everywhere else, and I don't really have anything original to say about it. Now Wendy's article was based on a list some man somewhere had written about the worst and best things about being a guy. She had decided to counteract this by writing the best and worst things about being a woman. However given some of the things on her list, I'm not entirely sure she is an expert on what she was saying.

Towards the end of the article, she said that one of the best things about being a woman was the fact that women could leave work to go off and have a baby, and everyone would be completely understanding if she didn't want to go back to work, and wanted instead to stay home and be a mum. Well the last time I checked, no one is OK with this any more except the mums themselves. The government certainly doesn't want anyone to stay at home and raise their families, they want all of us to be out being productive and making money for them. They have even gone as far as refusing to pay you to be a parent once your child is in school because then you're out of excuses. There is no reason for you to stay at home any more because the school system is now raising your child, so off you go, get a job and start doing something useful.

The only people wanting mums to stay at home and take care of their children are the mums themselves, and even then not all the mums are content with this. Some of them are quite happy to pay professionals to play with their children while they go off and have adult time at work. Now I'm not passing judgement on mums who work. In a couple of years I will have to be a mum that works, but this is not my choice. If I could choose, I would be at home all day waiting for Miss K to come home from school. And it is not because I have an obsession with daytime television either. (especially since all the daytime television I watch these days is aimed at children.) It is because I feel that as Miss K's parent, my job is to take care of her and run her home. I have already discovered as a childless bachelorette that I am terrible at balancing work and running a household. Once upon a time when I was a full time professional person my house was always messy and dishes were done as I needed a new plate and cutlery. Add the extra mess that a child brings to a household and pretty soon you'd be seeing me on an episode of hoarders or how clean is your house.

Given that I am a single parent, and the sole provider of income for my family, I have no choice but to go out to work as soon as I can, in order to make sure that Miss K and I have a comfortable life. I have had to accept this and I'm even taking steps to make myself more employable once that inevitable day comes. But I really resent the fact that my current job isn't appreciated by anyone other than Miss K. Of course you could rationalise that she really is the only person who needs to appreciate it as she is the only one who is affected by it, but given that she isn't the one that determines whether I get paid or not, her appreciation really doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. It is because of people forcing mothers to go back to work that we are raising a generation of privileged brats who respect nobody but themselves. And I'm not saying that working mothers are bad parents here, I'm saying that children of working parents are being raised by child care centres who aren't allowed to use the word no, and aren't allowed to discipline a child when they need to be brought into line. Have we all forgotten that these are the people who are going to be choosing our nursing homes? I don't know about you but I'm very afraid.

The real issue that comes with returning to work after a 5 year "vacation" as you raised your child is that the skills you once valued as a worker are probably all a distant memory. Once upon a time I was able to juggle several conversations at once, stare down an entire basket of typing without flinching and manage a to do list as long as my arm. These days I struggle to have one conversation at a time, I wince every time I see another basket of laundry and my to do list stretches to next year, with very little progress ever. Of course being a mum means you can become creative when redoing your resume, as for the past few years you have been an entertainer, chef, personal assistant, nurse, negotiator and maid, but I know very few bosses who really care that you are able to sneak vegetables into your meals on a regular basis, or that you can diffuse a potential temper tantrum in five seconds flat. And very few colleagues appreciate it when you offer to kiss their boo boos better.

Luckily for me I still have a good couple of years left before I have to worry about returning to the adult world, and I'm determined to make the most of it. But I do wish that more recognition was given to the working soldiers whose battlefields are the kitchen sink and kids bedrooms. You may not think so but they work just as hard as you do, and sometimes even harder.
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