Parents are terrified that their child may be at a disadvantage if they are not doing the same “enriching” extracurricular activities as their peers. They develop an approach to parenting that they are desperate to believe is the right and only way to raise a child, and become fiercely protective of their choices, to the point of being dismissive of all others.
Another line from this book rang Big Ben-sized bells for me: “The pressures on women have gone from keeping an immaculate home to being an irreproachable mom.”
Apparently, we are supposed to be domestic goddesses, providing a nurturing environment and food lovingly prepared from scratch, be available to contribute to dozens of school events, set an example for our children by pursuing our own personal and professional dreams, yet be constantly at hand to meet their endless needs and demands. We must remain interesting and “sexy” to our partners. We must attend to our fitness by completing the recommended 30-60 minutes of daily exercise. We must wash, clean, shop, do the school runs, supervise homework, and read to our children nightly. We must then spend quality time with out partners whilst also ensuring we have our own “me-time”.
I love The Husband. He works very hard, very long hours, and is often out or away for work. When he is home, he is truly “present” and is an adoring father.
But, the simple fact of the matter is that I do pretty much everything else. The Juggle Struggle. It was becoming too much.
So, after thinking long and hard over the weekend, I decided to step back from my part-time job. I spoke to my boss openly and honestly about my decision and, when I went into the office to tidy things up this week she gave me a huge hug and wanted to be sure that they had not done anything “wrong”. I assured her that the decision was all about me and what I was capable of at this time. I was doing many things, but none of them well (in my mind). I am now doing just some of the work I was at home, when I can schedule it in. How lucky am I? But, it also goes to show that you get nothing by not asking. If you want change, you have to make it happen.
I am so pleased with my decision. My life is in a state of flux and transformation once again this year, but I can feel in my waters that I am heading in the right direction …
And so, back to the “Mummy Wars”. Like I said, there are lots of women out there only too ready to cut each other down. I am so fortunate that the many mothers I know are not. And, believe me, they are all very different. For example:
- I know a mum whose husband stays at home so she can pursue her law career
- I know a mum who gave up her successful web design career to be a stay-at-home mum
- I know a mum who breastfeeds her toddler
- I know a mum who refused outright to breastfeed at all
- I know a mum who had her oldest and youngest child almost two decades apart
- I know a mum who is a grandmother at 40
- I know a mum who is a wonderful stepmother to two children who lost their birth mother to breast cancer
- I know a mum who elected to have just one child so she and her husband still had the time and energy to work
I love all these women, and they love me. Most importantly, they love their children and are doing what they feel is best for their families, whatever that may entail. AND THAT’S OKAY.