Isn’t it funny, we (some of us) spend the majority of our childhood / teenage lives dreaming of the day we become mothers. For some, they long for that role of a stay at home mum, picture all of the tasks they will do with such delight and enjoyment. For others, they knew they still wanted to maintain a career alongside motherhood. However, more often then not, the reality is far different from the wondering & daydreaming we did in the past.
For me, the goal was to always finish my degree, work for a few years, and then ‘stay at home’ with the children until the last was in school, returning to my career later in life. However I never expected to be left feeling like I have to do ‘more’. That by me being home with the kids – I’m not doing ‘enough’. But let me tell you something, whilst I might not be doing ‘enough’ to add coin to the bank balance, I certainly am doing ‘enough’ to fill in each hour of the day.
Thankfully I’m not pressured to ‘make my own money’ or ‘financially contribute’ although sometimes I do feel guilty. Guilty that I’ve got the ‘luxury’ of staying home, whilst my husband is off in a physically demanding job for 10-12 hours a day. However I definitely feel there is a pressure from society that once your child can essentially walk, talk and fend for themselves, it’s like “Thank you, your job here is done” off you hop skip and jump back into employment. There is this magical age that your youngest reaches, where people begin to ask tentatively “Sooo.. when are you heading back to work?”. Such an innocent question, yet one that can make you question your entire existence. Work? Huh? What do you mean? This is my WORK. I’m a Mum now. Sure it isn’t ‘paid’, I don’t get holidays or breaks, I even have to share my lunch with my ’employees’, but there is no ‘going back’. This is what I choose to do, I’m lucky that I can make a little bit of money from my blog, from social media etc, but the vast majority of my time is spent raising the children. However because I’m not ‘earning a full-time income’ I’m not viewed as a valuable contributor to society, or I must be a ‘dole bludger’. Since when did raising the next generation of humans be seen as invalid.
Back in the day, no one batted an eyelid when Mothers stayed at home to raise the children. It was the ‘done’ thing. There was no pressure to head off to work, because ‘the woman’s role was in the home’. However these days, thanks to some kind of feminist revolution where equal pay rights & women empowerment is at an all time high (which is AMAZING by the way, and we have come such a long way). The message that ‘Women can do anything’ is forefront in our lives. And yeah we can, we sure can do anything, but only if we want to. Thereby raising the question – “But what if we don’t want to?”. I feel like there is so much empowerment and activism surrounding equal opportunity, that along with it comes an invisible pressure, whereby some of us are doing the sisters in generations before us, a disservice for not taking this opportunity, grabbing it by the tits and running with it. What if we want to take on the ‘traditional role’? It doesn’t mean we are lazy, or uneducated, or not hard working. Heck I’d argue the opposite. Being a mother is incredibly challenging, and sometimes the rewards are few and far between. Some days we are smashed from pillar to post (or stuck beneath a never ending request for sandwiches cut in triangles, (shit, no he telepathically meant squares).
You see the thing is, we’ve got this ‘hustling’, business savvy, business Mums era on the rise. It’s inspiring, it’s incredible, it’s empowering, but it’s also exhausting, comparative, and overwhelming. There are so so many amazing women, juggling incredible careers/businesses, kicking goals & just doing such a fabulous job at nailing the whole mum gig. But just because one Mum seems to be able to handle it all, doesn’t actually mean she is, or that we ALL SHOULD. Generally something has to give, and I know when I was running my label, the thing that ‘gave’ was meal times – we very rarely had decent meals put on the table as I was busy ‘hustling’ in the studio all afternoon. The circumstances within each household are varied but I’m going to put money on the assumption that the majority of Mums are the main person in charge or responsible for looking after the never ending needs of their children, regardless of whether they work in paid employment or not. That is the biggest job in itself, and that alone, should very much be considered DOING ENOUGH or a Valid role. I think we need to set the ‘Mum Expectation’ bar a little lower, lets celebrating simply having our children clothed, fed, looked after and loved above all else. You are enough. You are doing enough.
To those women who choose to return to work, sometimes it’s not even a choice but a necessity – you’re amazing.
To those women who choose to stay at home with their children, and think about careers later – you’re amazing.