“Mummy, you can’t go out to work,” my daughters cried in horror, “We need you!”
So began a recent conversation with my children, aged 8 and 5, when I tentatively suggested that I might have to go out to work soon and they might have to be collected from school by somebody else. My husband will be redundant in a couple of months, and so both of us are working hard to keep the family finances safe. Unfortunately, my freelance work has all but dried up, and my books are not selling. That is another story. Suffice to say, I might have to sacrifice some writing time and do another job, away from home, just to earn some money when we need it.
Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day, and I came across an infograph on a tweet. It explained that women have made good improvements with their position in the workplace since 1980, but we still have a long way to go. That makes complete sense to me. For starters, I want our culture to start appreciating the more nurturing and essential jobs in society. I’m talking housewives (that’s me), nursery workers, preschool assistants, early years carers. These are generally dismissed as basic, unimportant jobs, and in my experience, jobs that women can do but men are far too important to take on. That is my lived experience, as a 30-something woman from North Staffordshire.
What do you think about this idea of women in the workplace? I want to be paid for the work that I do, very important work that involves caring for my family and our home, so that it frees up my husband to do his very important work in the waste management industry. But I want to be paid as a writer too, and a decent wage. That is my career, a job that I know I am good at, but one where I am struggling to battle past gatekeepers, industry snobs, and social mobility factors. I am stuck in a cycle of not being good enough, but I don’t know who decreed that fact, or even what makes them better than me. Perhaps there simply aren’t enough decent jobs in the UK? Or perhaps I have an over-inflated ego, and I should simply accept my place in the world and be grateful.
All I know is that I want to be here for my children while they grow, I want to be available and present in their lives, and I want to help them grow into independent, confident, articulate women so that they may follow their dreams and see them realised. Isn’t that what we all want, at the end of the day?
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