There’s been a lot in the papers this week about stay at home mothers and their decline in numbers since the eighties with only 10% of (all) women staying out of the workforce by choice (not necessarily to raise children). With these headlines has come some stereotypical and outdated representations of what staying at home to raise children looks like and some fairly offensive terms to describe us.
Because of this I can’t quite work out if we’re being fed a negative or positive spin on this story from the papers, who break the figures down (somewhat skewed perhaps) to state that only 1 in 10 children have a parent at home full time…how sad that a whole generation of children are being cared for outside the home? Or hurray, look at all the workplace opportunities for women and the childcare options available to parents?
It would seem that the Government are going for a positive take on the figures…extolling the virtues of having more ‘economically active’ women in society. This view is despite waffling rhetoric a few years ago from David Cameron about rebuilding family values to make society better…or perhaps it was bigger…
For what it’s worth my view is that Little J will really benefit from having me at home with him in these early years and also from having Andrew around a great deal of the time. We are fairly unique in that the pattern of our lives is such that it doesn’t conform to the standard working week. This would make childcare arrangements confusing and time when all three of us are together would be almost non-existent.
Also I like to put my all into whatever I’m doing and currently I am putting my all into raising a happy, confident member of society, so I really balk at the idea that I’m on the negative side of a working/not working discussion. I don’t actually think there should be a negative side, except to examine how happy people are with childcare arrangements and to explore why some people don’t feel they have, or actually don’t have, a choice in the matter of how they raise their children.
Because I think ultimately the point with us is that I don’t have to work. When we decided we would like to try to have children we had already made a choice about our working life. I’ve already said how fortunate that makes us…and, of course, a lot of parents on both sides of the statistics won’t be in a position to choose.
So dear government and dear society…
Please don’t declare me ‘economically inactive’ because I am not currently working and so not paying income tax. It is a derisory term that feeds negative opinions of stay at home mothers. I am not using the system for any benefits whatsoever (indeed if I found the smallest of part time jobs I would be eligible for all sorts of tax benefits and state support). I have worked and saved hard for twelve years in order to make this choice and I will ‘rejoin the workforce’ in the future.
Please also don’t assume that I conform to some sort of stereotypical and farcical image of a dozy housewife in a pinny. I have never felt so mentally and physically engaged. My skills base has grown more than it ever has done in an extremely short amount of time, with most of those skills transferable. My beliefs and opinions have become better defined and my passions greater.
Please look at the opportunities and support you offer older women in going back to work. They haven’t lost anything of who they were before children, instead they have gained immeasurable experience. It is short sighted at best, and prejudiced at worst, not to recognise this fact.
I am more than whatever work made me. I am also more than what being a mother makes me. I’m me, not ‘just me’…ME. Oh and I’m really happy and having loads of fun. Is there a statistic for that?