Sunday, 5 July 2009

Stay at home mom

"Yes, I know I have never run a business but let me tell you, Mr Goldschmidt, I have run a household of seven.

"Yes I know it is an unpaid and unappreciated position, but I defy you to do what I did for the past 40-odd years. I organised the schedules of five well-rounded children. I ran car pools and bake sales and bluebird groups. I negotiated, mandated and coddled all at the same time, not to mention what I had to do for my husband to keep him happy and productive and I did all of this without ever taking a sick day.

"The problem is that no one values the experience of a stay at home parent which is truly a shame because basically running a business enterprise, as you put it, would be a day at the beach to me."

Norah Walker, Brothers and Sisters

When I first noted down this speech, I had envisaged some worthy treatise on the way stay at home mothers are undervalued.

I had no idea how very relevant it was about to become.

I have paid the deposit to symbolise my commitment to renting my new home for the next six months.

I returned from the estate agents with a folder of forms and now I have to complete the paperwork that verifies my credit worthiness, my character and my reliability as a tenant.

In trying to supply supporting documentation, it brings home to me my lack of value in the eyes of the world. For over two decades, I have existed only as someone's wife and someone's mother.

Even though, for all that time, I was doing everything for everyone else and taking on the multiple roles of financial manager, tax advisor, accountant, project manager, estate manager, event organiser, arbitrator, judge, detective, product buyer, retail operative, computer technician, researcher, doctor, nurse, chauffeuse, comedian, entertainer, domestic engineer, butler, sommelier, gardener, valet, nanny, maid in both the nursery and scullery, housekeeper, waitress, cook and chief bottle washer, all this counts for nothing.

Only now will I actually become officially responsible for myself.

And there seem to be all sorts of bureaucratic question marks over whether I have the ability or the finances to manage that without a significant male in my life.


Cate said...

This is one of those things that really drives me insane! Mothers have a such an important role in society - they are the biggest influence on future generations - and yet the work that they do is so undervalued. I didn't have the option to stay at home but still took a significant paycut so I could juggle the school runs and everything else while still working. The loss in income and the impressive job title was a huge blow to me as I realised that I was no longer deemed important.

I recently read that women are more likely to start up a business than men - I believe this is why.

Cate xxx

Gorilla Bananas said...

God bless all mothers, although there must be a few you can vouch for you. Are you still in touch with The Bear?

Gorilla Bananas said...

God bless all mothers, although there must be a few you can vouch for you. Are you still in touch with The Bear?

Around My Kitchen Table said...

I don't, unfortunately, have any children and have always worked full time. I am, however, as an aunt to millions (well, it often feels like millions)occasionally left in charge of a house + ankle-biters. I don't know how any of you manage it. I always end the day feeling as if I've gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson - and the place still looks like a tip!

Helga Hansen said...

Ah, yes... that role we appear to take on the moment we say "I do", and one which we get no thanks for, until the wheels fall off, and suddenly we've let the side down, it's all our fault, we endlessly hear how hard our husbands have to work to keep a roof over our heads, while they forget how hard we have to work to ensure the roof doesn't fall down!

I work too, long hours, but you'd never think it. I think my job doesn't count because I don't bring home as much money... at least, that is the impression I am left with!!!

Go you, and good luck with the flat - it's about time you let them eat Cake!

Lady in red said...

I worked part time through most of my marriage as well as bringing up 4 children. when I became ill with cancer my husband suddenly realised he didn't want me to die. It wasn't because he loved me but he suddenly relised he would never be able to manage the things I did.

Towards the end of my marriage I was informed that I was not entitled to spend any of our money as my wages didn't count as contributing to our living costs (we had a joint a/c!!)even though my part time work was almost as many hours as his full time work.

One of the greatest things about being on my own was being able to make my own decisions without having to defer to him.

Kyra said...

You put this so well. I've never been in this exact position. But I have a glimpse of it every day. As women we are so much more responsible for our family's well-being.

You do have so very much value. I'm so sorry that society doesn't recognize that.