Becoming a mother has been a massive learning curve for me. I know that sounds cliché, but it is the absolute truth. It wasn’t so long ago that I used to commute to work full time and everything revolved around me and my then fiancé (now husband). We agreed that we wanted to have children, but were both a little frightened by all the horror stories that people told us. I was never particularly worried about giving birth, it was more the after-effects that concerned me. I mean, you know that physical labour will end eventually because you baby has to come out!
I recently read an article in Mother and Baby magazine (my new lifestyle bible, where previously it was Marie Claire or similar) that talked about being in The Motherhood. It explained that women are becoming feminists after they have children, because that is when they really start to notice the blatant inequalities in society. It starts when a woman announces her pregnancy at work. All of a sudden she has to make way for regular health checks which might mean taking time off more frequently. She has to plan her workload and start delegating in preparation for the birth of her baby and her subsequent maternity leave. Then she might possibly drop out of her career for a few years, if it makes better sense for her to stay home with the children full-time rather than pay for childcare so she can return to work.
The Motherhood has been around for as long as women have been having babies. I think it is only now becoming more of a movement or organization because women are speaking out about their experiences in the home. My mother worked several jobs while raising three children, and she did all the housework, all of the doctors’ appointments, planning for school trips etc. She just did it, along with all the other working mothers and housewives around the world, and nobody ever appreciated her for it, myself included. Sorry Mum! I truly appreciate you now, that’s for sure.
Part of my difficulty recently has been accepting that I am a wife and mother. I absolutely adore my children, and I loved being pregnant despite all the pain and discomfort it caused. But I still feel a huge loss of my independence. I cannot switch off anymore. Even when my children are in bed I am either sitting anxiously waiting for them to wake up, or I am busy tidying, sorting and catching up on my household chores. What I and all the other mothers in the world want, is simply to be recognized for the work that we do in the home. We do not get paid for our work, and yet if we didn’t produce children the entire human population would die out!
Being a mother is a full time job. We do not receive annual leave, or sick pay, or bonuses. We don’t even receive a regular wage, because most of the time our working husbands or partners cannot spare any of their wages after the household finances are taken care of. I can’t actually see a resolution to this problem. But I would feel a whole lot better if we could identify ourselves as ‘working mothers’ even if we don’t have an external job. The term ‘housewife’ has become somehow a dirty word, at least to my mind, because society as a whole has devalued the work of women in the home. I don’t know how to change it, but at least with The Motherhood I am among friends.
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*Working mums club image courtesy of Mother and Baby magazine; Mother behind bars image courtesy of The Daily Mail