So there has been yet another report released to pile more guilt onto the working mother. It’s a bit like shooting a sitting duck, no? Can the media not give parents just a teeny break once in a while?
Apparently, detrimental long-term effects on your child’s health can be caused by sending them to nursery or to the child-minder. Awesome. So added to the list of separation anxiety, guilt, worrying whether you’re a good enough mum/wife/partner/employee, and general emotional upset that many working mums struggle with, is the knowledge that you have probably successfully inflicted some awful medical condition on your child, just by choosing to earn money in order to keep a roof over the heads of the family and food on the table.
I have problems with this for two reasons.
1. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!! ENOUGH with the constant reminder that mothers are terrible beings, that we pay too much attention to our children/don’t pay them enough attention; that we are too child-centred/we are too self-centred; all we talk about is our off-spring/we never converse with our off-spring; we are too attached to our children/we don’t care enough about our children. Just, enough.
2. Although it wouldn’t make for salacious headlines or juicy stories or, indeed, interesting scientific reports (in fact, this would render them utterly redundant), but what about the balanced view? You know, the view that goes something like, everyone is different, each child is different, each family is different, each circumstance is different?
I knew I had to go back to work from the moment I started to plan my maternity leave. There was no question. I’m lucky enough to work part-time, and with The Boyfriend working shifts, between us we get to spend a decent-ish amount of time with The Baby. We are also lucky to have family close-by on whom we could count on for child-care. But we decided early on that we wanted The Baby to go to nursery for a little time each week. She is a sociable creature, she loves being around other children, always makes a bee-line for other kids if we are out shopping or at the park (all of whom are referred to as “Beeby!!” now) and likes to be constantly entertained and stimulated. For us, the arrangement of a half day or a day at nursery each week works. At first it was very difficult, but now she is used to the nursery and the staff and the children she is very comfortable there. Comfortable enough to slap other children, apparently, but that’s another story.
For other children, nursery would not work. For some, only family will do. For some, dad stays at home to be the main child-carer, for some it’s mum, for others it’s full-time nursery. The point is, whatever the situation, surely there has been enough discussion, enough thought and care taken to ensure that it’s the right choice for everyone involved? Can someone not comment on this for once? Can the media just leave the mother-bashing alone for a while, not pour guilt over every difficult decison we have to make, and just let us be? Can someone just say well done, mums and dads of the world, you are all doing your best and actually, your best is good enough? And can someone tell me how to stop a 13 month old from slapping all the other kids in nursery?