Today I was busy trying to catch up on menial household chores, when my mind wandered to the age-old debate about what it means to be a ‘full-time mother.’ Personally I do not agree with this label at all. Every mother is full-time, even when her children have flown the nest. My own mother and my mother-in-law can testify to that.
I have recently come to the conclusion, along with my husband, that I will not return to my part-time paid employment when my maternity leave expires. It is simply not financially viable. The money we pay for childcare will pretty much eat up my entire monthly wage, which is ludicrous. And besides, I want to raise my daughter and enjoy our time together before she goes to school.
My other reasoning is that I am still working. I am a writer, and I will be focusing on turning that into a full-time paid occupation. And herein lies the quandary. At the moment people may describe me as a ‘full-time mother and housewife.’ Indeed that is where the majority of my time is devoted. I have to clean the house and care for the baby while my husband is out at work. He works long hours, and commutes a fair distance, and even on weekends he is taken up with freelance part-time work and other pursuits.
So where do I fit my career in? Because I work from home as a writer, and because as yet no one has offered me an advance book contract, or even a regular paid job writing features or articles, I cannot officially call it a job. However, just the other day, while out walking the dog, I calculated roughly how many hours a week I spend working on book promotions and writing blogs, stories and articles. I spend a minimum of 30 hours per week doing this.
So what is a ‘full-time mother?’ Do I still come under that label, and do I simply spend 30 hours per week working on my ‘hobby?’ Officially, that is what it feels like. Even my own husband doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of my work. To him I am ‘the mother’ and ‘the housewife.’ That doesn’t make him a bad person. It just tells me that society is either going backwards, or hasn’t really learned much from the women’s liberation movement in terms of average families.
I am not alone. Several of my friends have made the same decision to give up their full or part-time paid employment in order to stay at home with their children. And their husbands are working full-time because they can bring in the wage to pay for the house and expenses. No matter whether these women are studying part-time for further educational qualifications, or trying to pursue their own career aspirations, they will always be ‘the mother’ and ‘the housewife’ first. And no matter how many people try to justify this by saying that it isn’t a bad thing to have such a label, that is not how we feel. We just get on with it, like all the other women in the same situation.
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