By far the worst thing I have found about being a stay at home mother is the lack of voice I appear to have. Politicians want me to go back to work; contributing to the economy, feminists don’t seem to support my choice to be at home in a traditional way and this leads to the embarrassment I feel when I have to fill in any form…..asking my occupation. Then you have the stranger you meet at a dinner party who, upon establishing you are at home with the children swiftly asks what you did before you were a Mum, desperately searching for something to talk to you about? All of them have something in common, they make me feel like a “nobody”. In some ways I know this is my own insecurity but to others it is completely true. I’ve tried a number of variations on my current ‘occupation’ over the years now:
Homemaker-sounds too 1950s
Full time mother- trying to make it sound like I have a ‘job’
Mother- trying to stand proud (and internally failing)
I could list the amount of different jobs I do on a daily basis but we all know what Mum’s do and many do this as well as go to work. This however is not the issue, the issue is I feel like my voice is irrelevant in modern culture. I am interested in the state of this country and the politics that surround it, I am after all raising the next generation. I am very aware as my son is now at school that it’s not just my decisions as a parent that are going to shape his future but also our educational system (lets not get into that rabbit hole) but I feel like my voice is not the one to be heard.
I am not giving to the economy, I don’t earn a salary, therefore not the governments priority.
I once had a friend say to my daughter ‘always earn your own money, you don’t want to be relying on someone else’! I was sat right next to her and was gobsmacked. In one odd sense I completely agree but as I haven’t earnt a salary now for coming up to 6 years, I was pretty offended. As a couple we decided for me to not work so I could be at home with the kids. My husband is able to forge ahead with his career and I don’t resent him for this. I am sometimes envious I wont deny but being at home to support both him and the children means I am giving just as much to our family. This friend just made me feel completely inferior, what happened to solidarity sister?
I’ve increasingly shyied away from the feminist debate over the years because I do feel that our choice is frowned upon, but deep down I am actually a feminist. I am raising a two sons and a daughter, feminism is something important to me, especially at the young age that they are that they can do whatever they want and gender is not the deciding factor. I think when you have toddlers you realise how much of society driven discriminations and behaviours are learnt, rather than nurtured. It’s only been since my eldest son has started school that I have had to explain to him that women do all the jobs that men do too.
I was always of the understanding that feminism is about choice, giving us women choice and opportunities. I can shave my self from head to toe if I choose, I can decide to have no children or 3, I can work or I can take time out of work to bring up my children. (I am also not going to get into workplace discrimination, I’ve worked in an office of all men, those stories are for another time).
Then comes the shift in your circle of friends. My Mum always said to me when I had children relationships with my friends would completely change. Those that didn’t have children would probably fall by the way side, I wasn’t however prepared for the fact that this wasn’t because we had an increasing number of different interests but that they would behave differently towards me. Looking back I can understand a little more as they were in such a different place in their lives but when I first become a mother it made me feel incredibly lonely. I was still the same person, I was just doing something different day to day to what they knew and related to. Going from an independent woman working, living in London to a stay at home mum in the countryside in the space of a few years is enough to deal with without then feeling like your opinion is irrelevant and insignificant to the rest of society.