Archive for July, 2011

A Mother’s Place…

When I was at home with my four children, I comforted myself with the fact that they would probably prefer to have me at home, than out at work all day. Now I’m not so sure. Just being a stay at home mother doesn’t automatically make a good mother, just as being a working mum doesn’t make a bad one.

I had visions of a Waltonesque family life, meals round a big table, making do and mend, all the children being helpful and caring and no-one complaining, being happy just to be able to run free in the countryside. Some of it was like that some of the time, though I don’t suppose ‘mommy’ Walton would have snatched a plastic recorder from one of her offspring and jumped up and down on it until it was in splinters, after having to endure listening to it being played tunelessly for what seemed like hours? No wonder none of mine are musical!

Staying at home meant sacrifices and while I was prepared to make them, I sometimes think the children weren’t too
impressed. As we didn’t have a second car all their activities had either to be within walking distance, or reliant on lifts from mums who did have their own transport. Trips to places like the cinema, or skating, or bowling had to be kept for special occasions, usually a weekend when my husband was home with the car. Although this proved costly with four of them and difficult to fit them all in the car anyway. And although I was at home when they came home from
school and cooked a meal for them every evening, I think they envied their friends when they went to McDonalds’s or KFC (the nearest to us was 13 miles away).

Holidays were taken in a caravan in Cornwall and though I, and they, enjoyed long days spent on the beach and a barbecue every evening, I think they would have enjoyed something more exotic.

When I see young families now, blogging or tweeting about How they are going to go out for cakes after school, going to see a film, visiting Lego Land, swimming, paint balling or even going clothes shopping or buying new toys, I wonder how they afford it. If I had gone out to work, my children could have enjoyed those things. I would have come home from work, not having seen them all day and enjoyed spending time with them. As it was, after being with them all day, I wanted them in bed by 7.30pm so I could watch Corrie or Eastenders and have some time to myself.

The reality was, I could only get a job in town (no car), would have had to pay extortionate amounts for childcare (no local family, and all working full time) and, as I left school at sixteen and married at twenty, no career to speak of. My husband was away all week and only back at weekends, so I couldn’t even work nights.

Looking back, I think I should have found a way round these obstacles, I could found something surely? I could have worked my way to getting a career? My children deserved more from me. Then again, I thought if we can manage, why should I take a job from someone who really needed that income? Is it patronising to even think that? I bought clothes from charity shops and accepted hand me downs from family and friends. I baked and cleaned and did all the decorating and gardening myself.(Not to mention ALL the childcare!) But who am I kidding? And why am I even going over all this now that my children have all left home?

Because, like all women everywhere, I’m convinced that we never get the balance right and my place is in the wrong!