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.