I love these women.
And I love this woman.
On BBC Breakfast news this morning was a feature about the cost of childcare. How women are forced to stay at home more and more with the children because childcare costs have risen 6% in a year. Carina White said that she had toyed with the idea of staying at home with the children but wanted to work to “teach her children better” (by going to work). Nooooooooo! Carina! What you have just done is reinforce an opinion that staying at home with your children is second best!
It struck a nerve with me (you may be able to tell) because for weeks I have been trying to think about how to write this entry and how to do it fairly. Part of me even feels nervous about posting it because I know people are going to get all weird about it. But I have not heard anyone else voice this, and I want to because it has been bubbling under my skin. Because a few weeks ago I came face to face with this opinion that staying at home with the children is “second best” to working as a woman. And it riled me. I had this weird lunch with a bunch of women who I knew from work, all with kids, most with full time jobs, some with part time jobs. And me. With “no job”. Which was very much the vibe I got.
*holds hands up in a defensive position*
Now, I want to get one thing clear. Crystal clear. I think women who work and have a family are bloody awesome. My friend ran me through her normal working day. Wake up, kids up, breakfast, dressed, drop husband at train station, drop child at childminder, get to work (always late), work through lunch, leave work, pick up child (always late), pick up husband, home, bath kids, bed, collapse on sofa, get up off sofa, eat, lay out everyones clothes for next day, sleep. These women are keeping us chica’s in the workforce, paving the way for our daughters to keep trudging up that ladder until they can press their faces against the glass ceiling and then bash their heads against it and make little tiny cracks in it for THEIR daughters to make even bigger cracks in it. Maximum respect *ethnic finger respect sign* (I am not cool enough to actually know one of these btw). However….maximum respect is deserved of us mothers decide to stay at home with the children.
After my lunch out, I came home feeling pretty turd. And I know none of them meant to make me feel that way. But, I thought to myself, if they think all I do is sit around drinking coffee all day, well, what the hell hope do I have convincing anyone else I don’t do that? I don’t have any family nearby to help with wrap around childcare. I wouldn’t be able to get a job on the salary I was on before kids so we couldn’t afford childcare. Even if I wanted to – I couldn’t afford to work. But, the point is I don’t want to leave the house every morning and entrust my childrens care to someone else – I want to be their carer and mother them all day long and be their primary influence. For me, I want to be part of every single moment I can of them growing up. This is my choice. And I think I do it pretty well.
Of course the media is always going to express polar opinons. Like today - You can work and struggle with childcare costs. Or you could give up your job, and live in poverty and scrounge off the country. Whoa whoa whoa. We struggle, but we dont live in poverty or scrounge on benefits. We make it work because we have to. I dislike greatly being tarred with the “sponging” brush. I am pretty sure the washing machine is about to break down. This month we needed to tax, insure and MOT the car. The children have an inability to turn off anything that has batteries in it (right now I am looking at 2 torches left on and I am torn between turning them off because we are broke and cant afford new batteries or leaving the torches on to teach the kids a lesson about how toys DIE). I get excited when the children open gifts which are clothes that wont fit, or toys they already have because it means I can return them and get something else they DO need (free shopping. Or like legal shoplifting). Our shower only works intermittently. The shower door is proper F**ked and is just 2 precarious glass panels which flap about. The bathroom window leaked in the storms. My straighteners are making this weird buzzing sound – yet I still use them because vanity over rides safety. I had my first hair cut in a year a few weeks ago. Alex threw my laptop on the floor at Christmas and it broke (weird that). I didn’t win the Who Wants to be a Millionaire viewers question, even though I suffered Chris Tarrants stupid jokes and patronising arse-ness for NOTHING GOD DAMMIT!
But as a stay at home mum I don’t get any benefits and certainly don’t sponge off the state as seems to be suggested of stay at home mums. I don’t get any financial reward whatsoever. Next year when David Cameron’s ridiculously bad maths comes round to bite me in the ass and he cuts my child benefit we will feel that incredibly (how did someone with such bad financial understanding and ability to add ever become Prime Minister?!).
But I dont mind because staying at home is a choice I made for me and my family. And luckily, our children don’t seem driven by material things (which helps). For Christmas all Ed wanted was a “Peppa pig whistle and a tootle flute”. It cost £3. Standing in the queue waiting for father Christmas at his grotto a mother dressed in a suit in front of me turned around and said to Ed;
“oooh and what do YOU want for Christmas?”.
Ed said “Peppa pig whistle and a tootle flute” (which had cost me £3 and was already wrapped up waiting for Christmas day).
“Oh, erm, lovely” she said.
“And how about your little one?” I said, nodding towards her 3 year old.
She looked at me and said “Erm. A nintendo DS”.
Some of you wont like what I have written here. But, gals, women, ladies, if we can’t show the respect and support for each others decisions, how do we expect Politicians and the media and the work force to not beat us down for our choices? I just found it really sad. I don’t sit around drinking coffee all day. Just understands what works for some, doesn’t work for others. Be proud of each other for their reasons to work, or stay at home and never assume to second guess someone elses choices.