I read an article last month about how women should adjust their lives after having children, how their work should incorporate their child. That women should be allowed the freedom to both work and be mothers at the same time, a sort of take your child to work kind of system to allow both mother and child to be together at all times.
The article then went on to say that it is society and the government that has created a terrible situation where mothers have to be at work all day and their children are left with strangers in childcare settings and nurseries. It discussed the damaging effects of such systems for both mother and child.
It discussed the role of the father and traditionally the father is seen as the one to work all day long and bring home the money. Then went on to say how this is also wrong, how the father for his own wellbeing should play a key role in family life and not be out working all day as this was detrimental to both himself and his family.
I can whole heartedly say that I agree with some of the points made by the author. However, the ideal that they seem to be portraying is so out of reach for some people.
The article meant well, it really did and maybe it was not written for people like me. Maybe the author had not taken the time to get to know their potential audience and had just published their writing with a specific type of person in mind, a person like themselves. However, the internet is a powerful thing and it did reach me, and probably lots of other people just like me and I found it to be damaging.
The way that Will and I parent is our style alone, it does not fit in with that of any particular group. We do what works best for us, we do not plan or make long term decisions, I learned a long time ago that my plans did not always materialise or work out, we go with the flow and take every day as it comes.
I suppose you might call it child led but then I have to go places and do things that might not necessarily fit in with this style. I have to go to work full time, I have no choice, if I don’t go to work we would have no home or food. It is my responsibility as a mother to work provide for my family. In an ideal world I would absolutely love to stay at home, I would want nothing more. People said to me that my ‘return to work would give me a break,’ firstly I do not think that these people fully understood what I do every day at work and secondly, I am really not that person. I do not want a break from Cass, I want nothing more than to be with him every day.
Will takes on most of the Cass care, I had the pleasure of a whole year of maternity leave and now Will and Cass get their time together. Will also has his own business, works all weekend and is in the final year of his masters. We are a busy family.
Cass goes to nursery for two days a week and in the beginning it was tough. It was out of necessity for many reasons but I cannot tell you how much of a positive effect nursery has had on Cass, he is confident and independent and it has only allowed him to grow even more.
We co-sleep, we have a gentle, child led parenting style, we both work full time, Cass goes to Nursery, I breast fed, we used formula too, Cass self weaned, we use a Sling, we use a pram, we have no family around us, we did traditional feeding, sometimes we use cloth nappies, most of the time we use disposables, some days I eat chocolate for breakfast, we eat meat, I gave birth in a hospital, I had no medication, I had post natal depression, Cass sometimes wears blue, he plays with prams, Cass sometimes wears pink, he plays with cars, we are fantastic parents raising a confident, independent, kind natured little boy. We are doing what we can in a society that requires us to have some form of financial income, however you may acquire it. We make decisions based on what we feel is the best way to support our entire family.
I am showing strength by doing all that I can in a system that does not allow me to necessarily do what I want. Placing unrealistic expectations on mothers is damaging and advertising one version of motherhood as the best version, or the version to aspire to is careless and blinkered.
Some parents choose to be stay at home parents, some parents choose to be work at home parents, some parents choose to go to work, but others do not have a choice either way. We are all different and this should be celebrated, women should be lifting each other up not tearing each other down.
So to the author of the article that I stumbled across last month. Open your eyes, go outside and learn to understand why others may choose to do things differently to you, and write about that.