During a ‘Show and Tell’ session at school last week, my 4 year old daughter had to draw a picture of what she would like to do when she grows up and talk about it in front of her class friends.
As we walked home, I asked my daughter what she would like to do. The class had discussed roles in the community such as doctors, teachers, nurses, fire fighters etc, so she knew what sorts of jobs were ‘expected’ to be discussed. Her answer however was not on the list… the conversation went like this:
“When I grow up, I want to be a mummy!”
“Is there anything else you’d like to do apart from be a mummy?”
“I want to cook and drive too”
“You mean, cook like a chef?”
“No, I want to cook and drive like you”
It was a lovely moment. She felt inspired by what I do for her and her siblings and wanted to do just that. However, I couldn’t help but feel that her answer wasn’t adequate in today’s society.
Have you ever heard someone say that they want to be ‘just’ a mum or a dad when they are an adult? If they have, I wonder what the reaction was?
We are always expected to have another role.
Mothers are now expected to go to work, have a career, play a role financially even if a partner supports them.
When a woman becomes a mother and decides to leave work and stay at home, she is judged.
Just type in ‘are sahm’ in to google and see what comes up (‘sahm’ is an abbreviation for ‘stay at home mum’ just in case you haven’t come across it)…
This is what came up in my search:
“are sahm lazy”
“sahm are annoying”
“sahm are pathetic”
We are continually told on Mother’s Day and via mummy focused websites that the best job in the world is that of a mother. The rewards and payment are in love, hugs and smiles. What can beat that?
Yes it’s true, it is a great job and it is a full time job, that you never switch off from.
But for society as a whole, it’s not enough. It just isn’t.
What people don’t realise is that IF a woman chooses to raise her children and focuses solely on that, she isn’t doing a disservice to society or even to herself. She is investing her time and energy in raising children that will hopefully make a positive contribution to society in some way.
You will be familiar with the famous quote by Brigham Young:
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
A woman focusing on being a mother is not a lost cause, she IS doing a job.
The latest findings from the UK’s national “well-being” index show:
“that those classed as economically inactive because they are caring for a family or home are also among the happiest people in Britain.”
“Mothers who have put their career aside to care for their children have a stronger sense that their lives are “worthwhile” than the rest of society, official figures suggest.”
“Overall 83 per cent of full-time parents and carers rated their sense of worth as high or very high.”
“Laura Perrin, a barrister turned full-time mother who campaigns from the group Mothers At Home Matter said the figures showed that government policies designed to encourage more parents to work full time could be doing more harm than good.
“This just goes to show that the idea that we are all at home depressed and unhappy looking after our own children – which a lot of politicians would like to believe – is simply wrong,” she said.
“It is clearly a worthwhile vocation, should you choose to do it.”
I had to leave work when I first got pregnant because of severe hyperemesis. I was too ill to continue.
Since my first child I have worked part time to keep up my skills and committed myself to voluntary roles in the community. This was my choice; I worked hard up until my first child and wanted to ensure I could go back to work whenever I was ready to.
More recently I learnt that I can’t go back in to a full time career of my choice due to childcare issues and so I’ve made my peace (but that’s a story for another post).
When I have spoken to working mums in the past about my next steps and career choices, I have felt judged and belittled, despite the fact that I have various commitments to organisations on a weekly basis in addition to my role as a mother. So God forbid, if I were to actually choose to to do ‘nothing’ else!
I know that many women who have chosen to stay at home and look after their children have been made to feel just as inadequate.
I haven’t sat at home and watched TV all day whilst ironing, as some people would imagine. And even if I did, so what?
What a woman does with her time is her choice.
If she doesn’t need to stress herself to go to work on a daily basis and can pick and choose what she applies herself to, why can’t she?
So if my daughter wants to be ‘just a mummy’, that’s fine.
I will give her all of the skills necessary to play a significant role in society.
Be it paid or unpaid.
– AD 🙂
Copyright © 2015
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