Tuesday, 22 January 2013
According to the Daily Mail, (I know, sorry), in a study of 2000 mothers questioned, 90% admitted to feeling guilty some of the time with 1/5 of those surveyed saying they feel 'wracked with guilt'.
You can see the reasons listed here but the general reason is to do with questioning whether they're a good mother.
I think I've spent more time in the past 9 months questioning every emotion, behaviour and decision I've made than I have doing anything else. Even the blindingly obvious fact my daughter is a bright bubbly healthy happy little girl isn't enough to assuage me of the guilt that somehow I'm doing wrong by her.
Here's just a few thoughts that run through my mind:
- I must be a bad mother because I spend most of the day longing for nap time and most of nap time wishing I could freeze time.
- I am resentful at the huge overhaul my identity has endured - clearly I'm too selfish to be a mother.
- She doesn't have enough friends/toys/fresh air/stimulation/insert anything at all here.
- I'm irritable and moody often. She's getting old and more aware of moods. What if I f*** her up by being a miserable b****?
- I want to feel more 'useful' and respected even though I rationally think that raising children is essential, incredible and quite frankly, something majorly worthwhile.
Okay so not all mothers are quite so self critical maybe, I know I've got some issues to sort out there regardless of being a mother.
But the point is this: It seems that in the 21st century no matter what decisions you make as a mother either for yourself or your child you feel like you may have made the wrong choice. And berate yourself anyway.
In the 50s and 60s it was much more common for mothers to stay at home and be good little housewives. Clearly a lot of these women were bored and wanted to work like men could. By the 70s and 80s many more women worked. As my mum pointed out, she was a lecturer at a university when we were little. It allowed for plenty of time to be at home but there was no guilt imposed or felt if you put young children or babies in childcare or had babysitters. It was generally seen as fine to go to work and be a mother.
And here's where I think the world is falling apart.
Just like capitalism is totally screwed up and the western world is struggling because we have no viable alternative, a parallel problem is happening to attitudes to motherhood. We are given the message both subliminally and more much directly that both being a stay at home mother and a working mother are somehow wrong. The working mother is selfish for needing more, the stay at home much not much respected for contributing zilch to society pretty much the same way as the unemployed.
So how exactly is any mother really supposed to feel good about the decisions she makes? Working part time clearly is the happy medium and according to How Not To F*** Them Up, Oliver James draws on evidence to suggest these mothers are the happiest. Probably because they don't feel guilty from leaving their babies too much but also get external stimulation that helps them feel more than just a mother.
So if working part time isn't an option what it a woman to do eh? In such an unstable and frightening global time it's even more important to try to feel and be secure in order to raise happy well adjusted children.
I've said it before and I'll say it again even though it's a daily struggle to take my own advice. Change has got to come from within before the rest of the world catches up.
I'd like to see a world where mothers are paid to stay at home and raise children if they want to. Just as they are paid to go out to work. Raising the next generation should be valued the same way we value all jobs. In payment. So here's my suggestion to western governments. If you're reading Cameron, which I'm sure you are, this is what I'd recommend.
Tax those global companies properly. Stop their tax dodging, offshore banking and so on. How is it right that a little business with a modest profit annually pays it's fair tax but companies like Amazon makes millions in profit and doesn't? Penalise the banks and other companies that do well out of the general public in good and bad times alike. Stop cutting benefits from the people who need it. If you tax those immoral businesses and super rich individuals properly you won't need to mess around with institutions like the NHS, or housing benefits for 23 year olds who can't get work. Share the wealth a little.
There's enough jobs to go around. It's just the 60 hour week executives take too much. No one should work so hard or so long so they can keep up the lifestyle they've started. If everyone worked 20 hour weeks they'd be no unemployment. and think how much better quality of life would be! Let's change this crazy gap between what the richest and the poorest earn, it does not make for a happy world, have you not realised this?
Pay women (or men) to stay at home and raise children. Payment will make it a much more recognised skill, and may well make men feel more inclined to do it. Let's stop seeing parents as scroungers, lying around watching Jeremy Kyle all day. Let's stop judging people by the work they do but by the people they are. If there's less of a divide between rich and poor then less value is given to the work you do and your social status will be determined more by who you are.
Communism might not have worked first time around but the concept of equality is much kinder, more sensible and fairer. Human beings should be judged socially by the strengths of their character, not what they do for a living, what car they drive, what clothes they wear.
Have I made myself clear Cameron? Good. Off you trot then to implement my changes.
Hahaha. Okay so I may have gone off on a little rant there but do you hear me people?!
This world we are raising our babies in is a mess. Worse than it's ever been. Most people are nowhere near as happy as they want to be, constantly striving for what they think will make them content. So let's stop. Let's take things back to their simpler roots.
And in the meantime, whilst we wait for the world to catch up let's do what we can to ignore the messages we receive and have a little faith. That we are making the right decisions for ourselves and our families. It may be too late for our generation but let's hope when our babies are having babies, all mothers, regardless of other jobs will have the courage of their convictions and be proud of the mothers, and people they are.
*P.S that quote has been paraphrased apparently but it illustrated by point so I went with it.*