I’ve blogged before about the dual expectations of motherhood and it’s likely I will do it again at some point in the future. But the issue isn’t going away and in the last couple of weeks the word ‘Mum-preneur’ has raised its godawful head.
My mum bought me a subscription to a mother and baby magazine for Christmas last year and they often feature mums who run small business or who started them on the side while still on maternity leave. They frequently use ‘mum-preneur’ as an actual word and I have learned to ignore it in the way that I ignore the features they run about celebrity parents and pieces on ‘how to revamp your nursery for under £1,000’ (*snorts*). To say it makes me cross is an understatement. You don’t see men called ‘dad-preneurs’ do you? Grrrrr…
Anyway. In last week’s edition of Question Time the Sun journalist Jane Moore suggested a range of things that we could all be trying to help save the economy and one of those things was, yes you guessed it, “mothers sitting at home with laptops.” Yes, we’re an untapped resource of work, doing naff all each day as we do. As Jane Moore is not high on my list of admirable journalists and as I detest her paper and its parent company I merely tweeted my frustration and went to bed. But it’s not going away, this idea.
I went for a job interview yesterday. Someone I know sent me the advert for the post as they thought it was right up my street (it is) and also mentioned that, as it was part time and working from home, that it would help with childcare issues. It’s a nice thought and I appreciated it. But really. I can’t do a job and look after a child at the same time. Or at least not do either thing well. Jobs require organisation, peace and quiet and someone who isn’t trying to eat the phone and get you to play with them when you’re using it. Likewise children require organisation (fat chance), attention and variety.
My friend was genuinely trying to help with our problems and offer me a chance to go for an interesting job but in the main, people who think mothers sit at home sponging maternity pay off the state when we could be contributing to the economy are often the same people whose ideology values women who stay at home to look after the family. It wasn’t that long ago since women were doing just that while their menfolk brought home the bacon.
Childcare has never been valued. We pay childcare workers an absolute pittance and would rather mums got right out there working again as soon as possible. Yet the slightest thing that goes wrong can be and usually is blamed on a failure of parenting. It’s taken me several months to adjust to not being at work and spending my days doing things with E. So much so that, when asked yesterday when, if I was offered the job, I could start, I said “January” with perhaps a few days before then if necessary. They wanted someone to start as soon as possible so now of course I feel guilty for potentially letting them down when all I’m doing these days is sitting at home with a baby. But I’m not just doing that. I’m contributing to her development, I’m looking after her, helping her learn and making her laugh. It will take me a bit of time to mentally adjust to the idea of going back out to work again, hence my request for January.
I haven’t yet heard about the job. I did read recently that the biggest regret people have on their deathbeds was spending too much time at work and not enough with their family. So if I don’t get the job I can look forward to a bit more time with E before going back as planned in March. And if I do get it, then I’ll be able to spend time doing something interesting that will hopefully make her proud of me when we are together. Cherish every moment.