Ok…are you prepared for a brain dump? This post is chaotic, and not remotely well written, but that sort of sums up my feelings on this at the moment – they are also chaotic, and not entirely clear. So…after that disclaimer, here goes:
Emmi is eighteen months now. (I KNOW. When did this happen?).
NB: This post will be interspersed with gratuitous shots of Emmi at home. What of it?
I could be back at work now.
Should I be back at work now?
Are people judging me for not going back to work the moment she was 9 months? Are people thinking that I’m less determined, or assuming I’m less educated because I’ve not wanted to jump straight back to work? Worse, are people assuming it’s because I’m unmotivated or lazy?
I know that pre-Emmi, I made assumptions about people who didn’t run straight back to work. Did they not value their own lives, and own worth? When did it all become baby baby baby? ‘They used to be so driven and now they’re happy to stay at home and look after babies all day?’, I thought, ‘what happened to them?’. I am not proud of it, but it’s true.
As women (in the UK at least) we are now incredibly lucky to have the choice. We can work or not work, depending on our life situation. I will always be grateful for that. But sometimes I feel like it’s not a choice. Not really. It feels like there is an assumption, that if you value yourself, you will go back to work. That you are somehow lessening your worth to society by choosing to stay at home with your child. And I think that’s really sad.
I am no earth mother. People who know me can attest to that. I’m not really into attachment parenting, and I don’t get huge satisfaction from spending hours crafting perfect organic meals for my child. I certainly didn’t grow up dreaming of being a mother, and didn’t really like babies before I had my own, if we’re being perfectly honest. And yet, here I am, saying that I think I’ve made the right choice to stay at home with her. That I can’t imagine CHOOSING to go out to work and paying someone else to look after her whilst she’s in this amazing stage of her life.
I KNOW – I am in the very lucky position where we can afford for me not to work. Don’t get me wrong, life would be easier if I did work, but I don’t have to. I know I’m unbelievably lucky in that respect, and not everyone has that option. But being in that position actually adds to my confusion…when we don’t desperately NEED for me to work, is it wrong for me to then go and work, just for me? Or worse, just so that I conform to society’s idea of a strong modern woman?
I should be clear here; I’m not judging anyone for going back to work. Whether you have to, or choose to, it’s absolutely none of my business, or anyone else’s, and I’m so glad that we live in an era where you can choose to do that. So glad. What I’m fighting against is that either way, whatever you choose to do, there is judgement – I think that’s the whole point of this post - is it really a choice, if either way, you will be judged for your choice?
It is my choice to not go back to work, just yet, and yet I know that people look down on me for that decision. Why do we as society place such little value on women, or people in general raising their own children? Does it stem from child rearing always being seen as the woman’s role, and historically (at least in recent history), women being seen as the lesser sex?
I admit that sometimes dream about going back to work and having meetings, and generally being ‘important’ again, so I do get it. There was a stage about six months ago where I was desperate to go back to work, but just couldn’t find a job here that worked for me, and now I’m glad. I still have drive. I still have opinions, and thoughts, and a life outside of babies. I have this blog with an amazing community of women who I am inspired by daily, I have my photography, which might one day be a career, I have friends who I can go out with and have grown up conversations with.
I’m not JUST a stay at home mum. I don’t want to be defined by that. And that in itself says something. That I feel the need to shout about the fact that ‘I’m more than a mum!’ – why isn’t being a mum enough? Perhaps a lot of this is me projecting my thoughts on to others, but I don’t think it is if we’re really honest. There are people out there, especially career women (and I don’t doubt that some of you fit into this category), who can’t help but thinking less of me for staying at home. You know you do, if you really think about it.
This isn’t a woe is me, send sympathy post. This is meant to open debate and discussion. Tell me, what do you think? Am I thinking too much? Do you (even subconsciously) judge women who aren’t working? Or who are working? What will you do, if and when the time comes? Or what have you done? How do you feel about that decision? And why is there so much bloody judgement in everything motherhood related?!