I have been thinking of this post for a while now and what stopped me writing it was the fear of not being able to portray exactly what I mean but with a few conversations I’ve had recently I do really want to jot it down. So here it goes unedited and written at 3am in the morning while rocking a croupy baby. A light hearted blogger that normally writes about the struggle of getting out of the house in the morning or posts on pretty accessories for the house writing about a more controversial and sensitive topic? Bare with me, normal service with resume soon.
When I started back to work a very well meaning lady said to me ‘when I had my little ones I choose to stay at home and look after them’ I remember at the time being more sensitive than normal but I felt it cut me like a knife… that I ‘choose’ to leave my girls 4 full days per week, it wasn’t appropriate to get into it so I just smiled, bit my lip and played the conversation I would loved to have had in my head. Now don’t get me wrong I 100% want to work, I enjoy my job and the challenges it brings but would I change some things if I could? Absolutely!
Then this week I read a blog post and it stated ‘since when did rushing off to a dead end job that you resent to pay the bills become a badge of honor’ (this was a post discussing mum shaming and probably the most shaming I ever read) but it made me realise again that it was being described as a ‘choice’ many times throughout it. I felt it was pretty niave.
Also this week I sat with a highly educated lady that has 2 children of similar ages to my pair and she discribed how she would love to be back at work and she can envy working mums (I totally get this too, sometimes you do feel the grass is greener) but it doesn’t pay her with the childcare and I stopped myself from saying ‘I don’t have a choice’ because I realised that neither did she.
Our government does not support women going back to work, the childcare fees are crippling that it takes the choice away from them as they could end up being worse off working especially if having more than one child. So many companies are still so inflexible that working their shifts around childcare can become impossible so the woman has no choice but to leave.
And for the mothers who’s salary is that little bit more than the cost of childcare, enough to remove the choice to stop working as what’s left over is needed for the bills or they could be the bread winner of the household and need to go back to that role to provide for the family, again more of an necessity than ‘choice’.
What I am trying to state here is that there is no choice in the majority of the cases, that many women don’t ‘choose’ to stay at home and many women don’t ‘choose’ to go to work as they don’t have the option, the only choice that they made was to do the very, very best by their children and in both cases may it be working out of the home or working in the home, that’s exactly what they are doing, the very best for their children and their situation with the card they have been dealt.
Do women deserve a ‘badge of honour’ for leaving their kids to go work at a dead end job? I believe so.
Do women deserve a ‘badge of honour’ for going on ahead and continuing their career progression? I believe so.
Do women deserve a ‘badge of honour’ for staying at home and raising their kids? I believe so. Why? Because all of the above are blooming hard and I am pretty sure a badge of honour has been given for less.
Just as I believe that the women who choose not to have children or even dream about having the choice to have children deserve that badge of honour, and not forgetting the men that are the support system in so many of these cases.
If we are doing our best then I’m pretty sure we are allowed to unashamedidly recognise that but we just need to drop the judgemental tone or bitterness when talking about the other side of things and I will happily admit many times when I hear that someone’s baby has been up all night and they will be having a pj and tea day (and I know it’s far from as blissful as it sounds) I totally envy that I still need to trail myself into work and be full of energy just like I know someone would envy getting to get out of the house to go to work and into a different environment at times. But I am going to be more aware of this!
Work places are loosing so many extremely talented individuals with an excellent and unique skill set but we need better support from the government to support mothers get back to work and for the mothers that are working for there to be more of an incentive than feeling that they are mainly working to pay tax and for childcare.
The gender pay gap in companies so often can be down to women having to take a step back, side step or break in their careers meaning that there is a huge gender gap at senior level. I don’t know about you but if the man could bare the children I’d happily share but we do have a small responsibility of evolution too and that shouldn’t be used against us.
I believe (not biased at all) that so many companies would reap the rewards if they were to tap into, nurture and grow this talent pool after all Hilary Clinton stated this year that ‘women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world’ now I don’t agree with everything the woman says but I think she is on to something on this one.
Maybe someday we will all have more ‘choice’ after having children and as it is international woman’s day this week let’s all support one another no matter what they ‘choose’ to be best for them.