Warning: I am completely aware that this comes from a place of absolute privilege. That’s what an educated white woman, living in a western, first world country in the 21st Century is. Privileged. I know this. I am eternally grateful for this. If you don’t want to read about my female first world problems, then you’d better opt out right now. I’ll be talking about why I’m so outrageously uncoordinated on skis later in the week which is marginally better. Come back then.
This is a serious one. I wrote it last year. Still applies.
30 July 2015
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE being a woman and a mother in an age where there is choice available to me. I can breast or bottle feed. I can have a husband or a partner of either sex or none. I can go aitkens or vegan. I can wear a skirt or shorts. I can buy an Apple or a Samsung. I can eat the greater part of this block of chocolate or do my diet a favour and not eat most of it. I can work or stay at home.
I’ve been thinking about my choices since last Saturday, when at a 6th birthday party myself and some other mothers stood around and idly chit chatted about what we were doing whilst the kids overfed themselves on party pies and biscuits. One had just landed a job in a field wildly different to the three others she’d been in previously. Another was slowly reintegrating herself back into a work role a few days a week, whilst a third was ‘thinking’ about what the next step was since the kids were now all at school. And the comment “I suppose we have to do something” was trotted out.
Yes, I suppose we do.
There we were. Four women with tertiary educations and /or specific skill sets under their belts who’d cut themselves out of the workforce to have children and were now trying to force those baby-ruined bodies and minds back in. Oh, and it needs to fit in between school pickup and dropoff. And the inability to do meetings. Ever.
One of my best friends, Peckerhead, had said (once her maternity leave had finished after the birth of her first child) that she was looking forward to going back to work because it would “be nice to have purpose in the morning again”. At the time I was affronted and got up on my MummyHorse- was being a full-time Mum not having ‘purpose’? Was I lazy because I had chosen to stay at home and look after my kids, not my career?? (Insert frumpy angry face).
And now I think perhaps she was so, SO right. Because now I am rudderless. I think back to that smug little woman I was, wrapped in her cocoon of hormones and adrenaline with my day-old flannelette swaddled baby and I think “You twat. Did you really think you’d be doing this forever!?”
I have left myself too long out of ‘the game’ of work and now I have no idea in which direction to move to get back to ‘work’. Making it harder is the fact that, financially, I don’t need to go back to work. I’ve still got children at home with me (except for two glorious six hour stretches per week) who make it pretty impossible to do much beyond ‘play rockets’ or lego during waking hours. But I now know that beautifully indulgent time is not going to last forever. These kids will be at school and I will need to do something beyond housework every day and elaborate dinners the little buggers won’t eat every night.
So here are my choices as I see them:
1. Return to teaching (or slowly insert bamboo shoots into my toenails)
2. Continue to be an ‘uber’ stay-at-home mum (that should say ‘Aspire’ rather than ‘Continue’ because I don’t think making a panicky run to the shops due to a sudden shortage in the kids’ diet staple (baked beans) can really be considered ‘uber’)
3. Sell my eggs off to the highest bidder (which would no doubt be very low as I’m almost 40 and certainly no Miranda Kerr lookalike)
4. Give my soul to GoogleAdwords on this blog thing which would be counterproductive since who takes any notice of Adwords and more to the bloody point: who’s reading this drivel anyway? (Hi Mum. We finished the fruitcake)
5. Become an invaluable member of the school volunteer squad and put my hand up for the work of 20 parents. Perhaps they’ll make a shrine to me between the Year 1 and 2 classrooms.
6. Have Global Tourism enlist me as their official caffe latte ambassador and fly me around the world, all expenses paid, tasting coffee and unleashing my wit on those who do and don’t get it right.
7. Stop whinging and just get a job.
All of these choices involve a fairly high degree of privilege and I am so thankful and grateful that I am in a position to sit at my computer in my secure house with a full belly and feeling of general health, safety and well being and have this conundrum.
What’s your Female First World Problem today (beyond mummybloggers clogging up your Inbox and Facebook feed I mean)?? And what does being a woman in the 21st Century mean to you?