Over the past few weeks, something’s been niggling. A passing comment, a throwaway conversation between two strangers have left a sense of self doubt and worry about our family set up.
Aside from blogging, and the Christmas grotto job, I haven’t worked in my previous career for coming up to three and a half years now. Call me unemployed, call me a stay at home parent, call me lucky, call me a mug…but please don’t call me a housewife.
Just as someone did, without meaning to cause offence, in the age old small talk line. “So, what are you doing now?”. The question that leaves me shuffling around, searching for words, wondering to go into the blogging thing, extend out a description of being at home with the children, or just reply “Nothing”.
“So are you still a housewife?”.
Errr….I wouldn’t really describe it like that. (Aaargh!).
The conversation moved on, but the words stuck in my mind. House wife. So demeaning and dark ages, and yet how someone actually perceives my role.
And then, in the same 48 hours I had taken off my pinny and marigolds for the evening (that’s a joke btw) to relax with a bit of trash TV. Channel hopping, I settled on a scene in the new Channel 5 show about rich people vs poor people. Each family, with opposing scales of wealth, had a strong woman at the helm – one a low grade NHS worker, and one a high end consultant. Together they concluded that although they were worlds apart, they both knew how important it was to be role models for their daughters, by them seeing them go out to work.
Ugh. Another big kick for us SAHMs. Again, innocently and unintentionally. But it set my mind in a bit of turmoil… am I giving my two daughters a warped view of the modern world, by them seeing me cook for them each day, keep their home ticking over, and dragging them along on the school run each day?
Will they grow up believing I was ‘Just a stay at home Mum’, with no regard for the years I spent in further education, whilst working, and the career in science I was once so proud of?
Am I really warping their perceptions? Damaging their views on equality for women?
I can’t say I agree with those lines of thought, because our children’s primitive need right now seem to align with one of us being right here for them, and circumstances defined that to be me. To coerce them to eat, to wipe their bum and to cuddle them while they are little. Plus, the childcare juggle is just unfathomable in our current stage of parenting – school holidays, nursery and school drop offs and so forth. Where do you even begin to fill the gaps.
Whether you are working, not working, or anywhere in between, I’m pretty sure the most important attribute of parenting is to provide love, support and guidance. I will tell my daughters that I chose to put my career on hold, and it was all for them. I could go back out to work tomorrow, next year or anytime I choose to, we could make it happen, but the fact of the matter is, at this moment in time, I don’t want to.
Perhaps in the not too distant future I will return to my old career, a new adventure, but if not, I sure as hell won’t be raising anything other than two strong feminists, and they will never be showcasing their Mum as a housewife in careers week.