Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Go forth and feel guilty...

So in less than two weeks time I will officially be re-entering the world of full time working - my maternity leave drawing to a swift close.
I've been off work for 8 months but working, in some capacity, for most of that - be it writing my column, writing my novels or trying to generate publicity. (And contrary to the beliefs of the husband who does actually exist - it is in fact 'work' - not a hobby, or an interest. It doesn't stop being work just because I enjoy it...)
But in two weeks time I'm back to the 9-5 (or the 9-6) and that means, if you believe all you read in the papers  my darling children are hooped. I might as well buy them extra large clothes just now and start stocking up on supplies of insulin and burgers (or something).
Now, this is where I get annoyed. And I know there are those out there who say that the article is actually useful research and will maybe prompt the government to accept that mothers have a valuable role to play in the home (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..... yes, I thought that was funny too) but the truth is it just feels like another stick to beat working mothers with.
We do our best. I have to work, if I'm to put any food (healthy or otherwise) on my childrens' table. If I want to pay for football club or swimming lessons, or buy a new bike or scooter then I HAVE TO WORK. If I want my child to benefit from such basics as a roof over his/her head, clean clothes and shoes that fit then I HAVE TO WORK.
And I have to work long hours. The industry I work in is not famed for its family friendly approach to working - and while my bosses are as accommodating as possible, I still have to work round deadlines and publication slots and such things and that means I can't walk to school in the mornings. (I chose a school close to my work so I could be there for my son if he needed me during the day - and that means school is 5 miles from our house so not the average morning stroll anyway). It means I can't be home at 4.30 to prepare an organic feast and that I'm not always available for a trip to the park for a run-a-round.
But I (and the husband who does exist) do the best we can to provide a healthy and well rounded upbringing for our children.
So how about these researchers turn their attentions away from working mothers for a change and instead research the impact of a government which does not financially support the right of a mother (or father) to stay at home and parent their children?


Linda said...

Hiya Claire - so much of what you say here strikes a chord with me as when I was pregnant with my daughters I was still working on a newsdesk at a regional paper.

The bit that strikes a chord with me the most is where you say that erm, mums work because they have to! I decided to leave papers for some of the reasons you mention here and am very keen on bigging up the advantages of going freelance when you have kids for journalists but that presupposes they can afford to do it and can bring in enough money to make it work which is now tougher than ever.

I've just written about my experience and opinion here:

Having twins forced the decision of not goiong back to work for longer than I would have most probably stayed off with one baby cos of childcare costs and twins' mums can be stuck in a bit of a limbo and the debates, dilemmas and surveys etc passes them by as they just can't afford to go back.

This is an excellent post so thank you and I wish you and yours all the very best. xx

Anonymous said...

This made my blood boil too!
What about us single mothers who have to work?!
I might also add that my children walk or cycle a 3 mile round trip to and from school every day - right before I stuff their faces with junk food because I work and can't be arsed to cook - what a crock of shit!
*Grumble grumble*

Claire said...

Amen to that! We need LOTS more women in government to address the benefits system. Woman across road from me is pregnant with baby number 6, no job and comes out in her jammies to wave kids off in a state-funded taxi to school while her car sits idle in driveway; meanwhile there's me bundling wee man into car to expensive childminder and driving a 60-mile round trip to a job that pays buttons by the time I afford childcare and petrol. It's crap.

Irish Mammy said...

You are damned if you do and damned if you don't it seems. I am also quite irate about the cost of childcare in Ireland and how unfair it is for working mammies. I could go on...

Best of luck returning to the workplace. My stomach churns at the thought of it (my littlest one is now 3 months so will enjoy this time).

There's an award for you on my blog. x

jayne said...

This little gem of research really seems to have riled us more than most.

I know exactly what you are feeling - even though my children are 10 and nearly 8, I still remember the sick feeling of leaving a baby to go back to work.

But, there wasn't an option as far as I was concerned: I had to work and I was lucky enough to have an understanding boss who allowed me to work part-time.

It's important that children value the work we do, whether that is as a stay at home mum (whose work is damned hard) or as a mother who goes to work.

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