I read an article that caused me to be saddened recently, about a mother who gave birth to her baby prematurely, then was seen out working at an event only five days later. According to the article, she was overheard claiming how wonderful the neonatal unit was that was caring for her baby, not least because it was like having a built in babysitter in the times when she should’ve been suffering sleepless nights. The article portrayed her as thinking how marvellous it was that she was able to still work, without the constrains of having a newborn to care for. The article stated that apparently not only was she not breastfeeding, but she wasn’t expressing breast milk either, at a time when this is truly the best nutrition a premature baby can have for it’s optimal development.
We all know how the newspapers are not always, how shall we say it, truthful in their adaptations of real life stores, and have been known not to want to spoil a story for the telling. However, it really did leave me feeling slightly uneasy as it got me thinking about how our society seems to have our values at times, just a little inverted.
It really does seem increasingly that the role of mother is being undermined by social pressures, and the way in which society views women who choose to stay at home with their family has taken an altogether negative turn. Mothers play a paramount role in the formative years of their children’s lives, yet we find ourselves and our roles being “de-professionalised” as Jai Breitnauer, a mother and journalist, so eloquently put it in her recent article in the Huffington Post.
Breitnauer also went on to say that “Statistics show that 86% of UK families name mum as the primary carer, and a 2008 study demonstrated that most important family decisions – finances, schools, leisure time – are taken by women. Parenting expert Dr Sears notes that “the first six years (of childhood) is a window of opportunity when a child unquestionably accepts the virtues modelled by parents” – and as mums seem to be at the forefront of child-rearing it is mums’ values that are being internalised by children, mum who is providing that vital role model.”
It got me thinking about a previous blog of mine where I shared that my husband believes that it is his job to earn the money, and my job to do everything else. Not only this, but he believes on some level that his earning the money buys him right to do whatever he pleases. Does this belief then mean that he has to work extra hard to provide extra money, so that I can parent in the way that I see fit? Do I then have the same right of passage on the other side, if I am responsible for 99% of the parenting? Why should I work my ass off every day, trying to earn extra money to ensure that my children have what I believe to have the very best education? Is this not then his job?
Breitnauer states in her article: “Until we can accept the value of motherhood, until those in a position of authority such as celeb mums and leading female figures are prepared to say that being a mum is worthwhile in its own right, we won’t see any progress. All the evidence shows that well-rounded, educated mums lead to well-rounded educated children – a generation who will contribute to society at every level. Yet women who want to feel valid are still pushed to define themselves by their career, and those who chose to look after children – either as a job or a lifestyle choice – continue to be sidelined.”
Why does money equal power? It is my belief that the mothers in our society should be supported, cared for and upheld for it is these mothers who are raising the next generation of society.
What are your views on motherhood and how we are supported or not, by society?