Parenting – you just have to be there.

long time ago when I was still a working (outside the home) mum and trying all sorts of schemes and plans to be a real-at-home-mum, I used to buy those stupid magazines that are supposed to be for “women who juggle” or even more cynically “women who have it all”. I realised fairly quickly that the shoulder padded, high heeled denizens who wrote the articles were not talking to little ol’ shift working nurse and mother -me. I then had a blinding revelation that these women wouldn’t understand my whole ethos over work and motherhood. They liked their high flying careers and were more interested in the stuff their salary provided than in people in their lives. The least of these people were the children. There were a glut of articles from “mothers” who proudly boasted of the fact they actually didn’t love their child, (or if they had pushed the boat out and had two – children). They wrote of how liberating it was for them to acknowledge that they didn’t love, or even particularly like their children.

What was clear in these articles, but I am not convinced the mother’s who wrote them realised this; was that they spent such little time with their not-beloved children, they didn’t know them. They were strangers who received material goods and a place at boarding school from the shoulder-padded ones.

I never bought or read another women’s magazine after that.

It may have been nice to try and convince myself that all those hours of work, were really a good idea and not damaging the family. It would certainly have been less tiring if I hadn’t constantly been trying to find ways to work less hours and still earn enough money to pay the bills; but I knew these articles were essentially lying to tell an awful truth. Parents who don’t spend  lots of time with their children, are not parents at all.

During the really rough time when I was the main breadwinner and worked silly hours (sometimes up to 60 a week) I tried to convince myself that this was good for the family. It wasn’t. Frankly I shouldn’t have done it. Being in debt is nowhere near as bad as not being with the children.

But sometimes families have no choice, and these days as we face another economic pit, I am finding more and more mums and dads in impossible situations.

My friend has to work around home educating her children. They don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but the bills must be paid. Meanwhile I was talking to a mum yesterday who, like too many, is a married single parent as her husband has to live away from home Monday to Friday while she is bringing up their little girls. They long for a settled contract so that they can live closer together (contracts of 6 months or at most a year are the norm for hum). There isn’t one on the horizon.

Another friend of mine lives away from her husband a few days each week while she cares for her sick daughter (who has CFS) and helps with the grandchildren. She says it works well because her husband supports the care of his daughter. I am quite sure none of these mothers would ever get so much as a paragraph of attention in a glossy, but what they do is massively important not just for their families, but for the rest of us. Apart from anything, they inspire and help keep people like me going when I would rather give up.

If this new Government really wants to undo the damage done to our society, economics and culture, they need to be brave and support families. They need to encourage and enable one parent to stay home with the children until they are adults. If they really want to cut the benefits bill they need to help families take care of one another. In fact let’s be straight here- women are the child rearers and carers in the vast majority of cases; so LET women do the work.

Full time mothers, home educating parents and carers save the taxpayer millions of pounds.

We know from plenty of research that children learn and develop much better if they are with a full time parent (usually mother) and this in turn has to be better for the future development of the country.

The miserable, unsocialised, lonely, medicated unemployable kids leaving school with barely enough language skill to get by are not going to kick start the economy for these politicians to feel good and grab votes.

Enable someone to be home for them. Save money on Nursing Homes by having someone at home to be the carer. There could be genuine encouragement to stop putting our children and elderly relatives in institutions and then I bet even if the money didn’t flood into the country, there would be a stronger community and less poverty overall. 

It’s a dream I know, and I am not so optimistic as to think the disintegration of the extended family can be remedied any time soon (if ever), but plenty of people find an alternative extended family through local networking; through community life. Sadly this is really hard for so many because everyone is out at work all day. Old people and young mothers with their children are abandoned then – and HE families have learned that they have to travel to make networks work.

Just a little encouragement and a lot could change.

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15 responses to “Parenting – you just have to be there.

  1. I am puzzled by women who choose to have children whom they do not want to spend time with.

    Perhaps such women are in fact really called to some kind of consecrated single life, but never come into contact with faith and thus never realise it.

    • I think there was a nasty phase- which may not have gone completly- where children were a bit of a fashion accessory.
      I think women with a vocation to religious life need to be women who would otherwise make good mothers, because of the similarity in sacrifice of self.
      But a scewed approach to vocation could lead to this kind of brokenness as you say.

  2. if this new Government really wants to undo the damage done to our society, economics and culture, they need to be brave and support families. They need to encourage and enable one parent to stay home with the children until they are adults.

    There never do that who will do all those supermarket jobs if that happened?
    The government makes it so most people have to work and then have to send children to school while there work also your looked down on by other people if you not got a flashy home with all the fancy things in it like new cooker new tv plus car!
    this has all been done on purpose by the government there like the fact people have to work longer for less government dont care about us im afraid! people know this maybe thats why so many people are so selfish it sort of rubs off on them!

    • The “service jobs” thing went through my head too Peter. It was fascinating watching that street in time program the BBC are doing because at the turn of the century men were the shopkeepers and front-of-shop servers not women. Perhaps we need to return to those days.
      We certainly need to get men into teaching. There’s a desperate shortage.
      But as you say – no govt has the imagination or testicular fortitude to face this problem head on.

  3. Humans are very clever at seeing only what they want to see. If the truth is painful or even inconvenient it can be swept under the carpet. I feel as if we are caught up in a vast ’emperor’s clothes’ situation. We watch solemn debates about what’s wrong in society when the lynchpin of every family has gone AWOL for large parts of the day, even at weekends, to pay the bills.

    Where do our children get their ability to navigate emotionally and spiritually, if not from their mothers?

    I cannot conceive of those who really believe it is acceptable to take one’s newborn for a ten-hour day at nursery: because we are numbed- often by material gain-into being unable to see the emotional landscape in which our children live.

    Fabulous post, Mum6kids. Once again you simply say how I feel.

    • Looking back, Kate, I think I constantly struggled with work-children”you can have it all-balance and juggle. In the end I just put my head down and ploughed on trying to convince myself it was the answer.
      it just wasn’t.
      Even so, I wonder what on earth I could have done. We had bills to pay.
      I will never understand women who actually want a career rather than to properly mother their children.

  4. Well said.

    I don’t know that these women would do any better as consecrated singles (as sanabituranima ponders) ~ the level of selfishness required to not love your children would not bode well in any other vocation, I don’t think.

    I am always puzzled by the women who, learning that we homeschool, respond with, “I could never spend all day with my children!” I just don’t understand that. I love being with my children ~ even on the days when they’re real buggers.

    • Yes, I’ve faced that one. I have actually said, “But I like my children.” a couple of times. The thing some of these mothers don’t realise is, their children are pretty difficult to be around, because they never get to be around adults at all. They get their social skills from fellow unparented peers and then their parents think “Urgh, don’t want to spend all day with you.”
      It sets up a truly vicious circle.
      But they don’t see it.

  5. Absolutely superb, Mum6kids. I cannot understand why women who cherish their careers have children either unless it is to have something to grumble about. Appalling people. Even worse are the appalling people in government who support and encourage that sort of thing.

    • And it’s fake isn’t it? These career women tried to insist that all working mothers were like them. In fact most of us were on low(ish) wages and battling to be home when we could.
      It’s still the same today: mums are care assistants, cleaners, shop workers. That’s not a career, that desperation.

  6. I don’t understand women who prefer other people to raise their kids… but then, I suppose they don’t understand me either. 🙂 Unfortunately, children grow up all too quickly – before we know it they’re grown and off on their journey of life. I don’t want to miss any of these growing up years…

    • I missed a lot of the older three and i never want to repeat that mistake.
      I think being this ill has focused me better. I now understand what is important.
      To be honest – and it’s sad to admit this – I needed to get this ill to force me to stop; take note and change.
      It was God’s holy 2×4 for me.

  7. Here in Australia we have a very good social security system. The govt pay enough that I don’t think any Australian women would ever have to say that they need to work because as soon as you start earning money, they take away from the family allowance.

    If there was any country that was supporting families to have a parent at home, I think Australia is the one. There are many families that can have mum at home and depending on the number of children you have that are dependants you can collect a pretty decent family allowance that is not taxable. We also get an allowance for the two boys with diabetes. This pays for all the consumerables and insulin that they need. There are endless govt payouts and still more women will work rather than be at home with their children. I don’t think I could get a wage paid that the family allowance pays me simply because I don’t really have a high enough qualification.

    LIke bwya, I have people saying how can you bare to be at home with your children all the time? They see the role of the home school household mother as dull and useless and without any rewards. I really like being with my children a lot. I hope that because I have spent a lot of time with them at home, they will come and visit me a lot when they have left home too. Even if they don’t though, I am going to spend as much time as I can with them while they are young. I know it won’t be long and they will all be grown up and gone onto their own lives.

    • Now that’s interesting Therese. I didn’t know that. Do you think more mothers do stay home in Australia even though there will always be the shoulder padded ones?

      I do think there’s a strange attitude to being a mother. I noticed a huge change in the way people approached me once I stopped working outside the home. I was suddenly a non-person. I remember sitting in the park while someone both my dh and I had worked with talked only with my dh. He completely ignored me once he assertained that I no longer worked for wages.
      WEIRD behaviour. I wondered if it was because I was in a wheelchair. But I don’t think so – I think my disability in his eyes was that i had stopped earning money.

      • I think that sahm are still a minority in Australia. There are many women that say they need to work still to pay all the bills but really they don’t. Really they are motivated more by what people think rather than the need for money. When we moved here in 2003, there was one mother from our church that was at home with her children. The rest were all working mothers. It is still the same now. I know very few people at home with their children.

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