I’ve been dipping my toes into the issues of parenting, having babies and whatnot, and I don’t really like what I see, particularly looking at both sides of the argument over mothers working.
Mums seem to be divided into Working Mums and Stay At Home Mums (SAHM).
Both sides seem to judge each other. The SAHMs judge the Working Mums for leaving their children to be raised by someone else in childcare, the working mums judge the SAHMs for not having lives of their own, no ambitions etc.
So which camp do I belong to? I’ll be a Working Mum. Not working is not an option for me. I didn’t go to university to stay at home and do nothing with my degree. My job may not be amazing, but I’m on a career path and I earn decent money. We also would struggle financially as a family, Phil having two other children to support too.
I was tweeting with a SAHM today and said that if I gave up work we would probably have to move to social housing, but with working childcare would only take 50% of my salary. She replied that she’d rather do social housing, and that 50% is a lot. I was pretty gobsmacked by that. The 50% I’d have left is 50% more than I’d have if I didn’t work. Why on earth would it be better to be at home?
Is it so wrong that I enjoy working, and want to work so that my child lives in a decent area, near family and we aren’t scrimping and getting into debt? Also shouldn’t social housing be there for those that really need it, for people who haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had? If I can earn a decent salary and be self sufficient then shouldn’t I do that?
Of course I comprehend that money isn’t everything, and having a loving mother with no money would outweigh an uncaring mother with money. But I’m not so naive to think that money makes no difference in these things. I’ll be a loving mother no matter if I work or not. Working will not make me a monster. I wouldn’t be having a child if I couldn’t afford one, going back to work has always been part of the plan for me. I know that going back full time isn’t an option, so I’ll be going back 4 days a week.
Moving onto the why have kids if someone else is going to raise them argument – yes, the 32 hours a week the baby is in childcare then someone else is having decisions on the activities and social interactions my child will do. But that’s only 2 hours more than if they were at school all week – do the teachers raise your children? Women aren’t judged for sending their kids to school.
I don’t regard my child being with someone else for 20% of the hours in the week as someone else completely raising them though. Phil and I will be there on evenings, I’ll be there on my day off, and we’ll both be there at the weekend. If we don’t like the values that are being instilled by the nursery/childminder we can change them.
What bugs me the most though is that none of these women judge the men. Why are they exempt from this? Why are they allowed to work without feeling guilty?
Personally I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a 50’s style household, where I stayed at home and was given handouts from my other half – but that doesn’t make it a wrong lifestyle choice for the SAHMs doing that, it’s just not the right choice for me. But I feel even less comfortable knowing that I’ll be judged as a bad mother for working and putting my child into childcare.
I can’t win with this one, can I?
Can’t we just accept each other’s choices, live our own lives and mind our own business with what each other are doing?