This is a contribution from Kerry, one of our mums. She’s recently undergone some terrible bullying in an online ‘mummy group” around her choice to go back to work after having her babies. We hear a lot of stories about discrimination against working mothers, so we thought it important to share her story.
I’m a working mother… actually that’s not entirely true, I’m a mother and I have a career. I value my career. I am passionate about it. I am good at it. I’ll take whatever labels you want to stick on me. You should know that I stick those mental labels on you too, dear Sanctimummy. Rant away in Facebook groups and share your carefully staged Insta pics with passive aggressive hashtags. I am OK with how you raise your babies. It’s your choice. Just like my career is mine.
While we’re talking labels, I am somewhat of a tiger mum too – at least, how I like to define it. I like my kids to be passionate about their interests. I want them to have access to all kinds of cultural, sporting and academic pursuits. And I want them to apply themselves and achieve their goals in the areas that interest them. For this, I am the most vilified mum on social media.
Stop assuming you know why I went back to work
“He mustn’t earn enough.”
“She must have had post-natal depression.”
“She’s a feminist.”
Actually, we’re fine mentally and financially and even if we weren’t, how we deal with that is our business. I will proudly wear the badge of feminism and I thank you very much to not use it as a derogatory term. Feminism is about equality between the genders. If you wouldn’t make the same assumption or judgement about my husband, don’t make it about me. It is about choices for all women. I made a choice to go back to work. You made a choice to stay at home. You have that choice because of feminism. You can choose what to do next. You have access to work, to education, to equality in the eyes of the law. It might not be perfect just yet, but you benefit from the struggles of our mothers, just as I do.
But think of the children!
I do. In fact, everything I do is for my children – I love those two little humans so much it hurts. Their needs, the human beings that they are and the humans they will become all shape my choices every day. Including my choice to go back to work. My choice to constantly feel exhausted and stressed and spread too thin. They’re the reasons I push myself so hard.
So I rise in the wee hours, do some work and then get two children up, dressed and off to childcare. Like everything I do, I scrutinised the childcare system and centres until I found one that would enrich my children, extend my children, stimulate their minds and develop their creative sides. In short, my childcare choice is an extension of my parenting choices and I feel no guilt about placing my kids in their capable hands. It’s not a sacrifice. My kids need more than “just me” to draw out their potential. It’s not about me. It’s about them. It’s about them interacting with other kids. It’s about them being excited to learn new things. It’s about their pride when they show me what they made at childcare today. I will not pretend to be crafty. I will not pretend to be an amazing cook. I don’t speak a foreign language to teach them. I don’t pretend to be as good at child enrichment as a qualified, dedicated early educator. That is their career. It’s their passion. It’s what is best for my children.
That’s not to say we don’t enjoy quality time. In fact, we adore reading together and we do it every day. We love getting out into the bush and trekking to beautiful places. We love bike rides. Most of all, we love to talk. We talk about everything, and nothing. Every day. Stop assuming I ignore my kids just because I work.
How I claw back some time makes all the difference
What I don’t do is clean my house. I don’t cook gourmet meals. I don’t iron. Not even once. My whole life I will never iron a shirt. My time is valuable and so I choose to spend it with my kids. Everything else can be done by a helpful lady (her name is Cath, she’s a working mum with her own business, for the record) or a good quality meal delivery service (and my childcare centre does this, and also provides me with my best friend - morning coffee. Sorry Alli, I know we’ve been besties since high school but you’re still not as close to my heart as coffee).
I choose my career, for my son
No, it’s not so I can keep him knee-deep in Playstation Games. Stop making assumptions about my motivations, please. I am raising a man. I wish for him to be strong, independent, confident, respectful to women, to see women as his equal and if he chooses to marry a woman, then to partner with a woman who he respects and who respects him back. If he chooses to have children, I want him to raise strong women and strong men. Equally. By excelling in my career while nurturing his mind and emotional wellbeing, I am demonstrating that I am just as capable as his father. I am empowered. I am both independent and a dedicated part of our little family.
I choose my career, for my daughter
I am raising a strong, independent and confident woman who instinctually knows that she’s equal to the boys and men around her. She gives and demands respect. She’s not fearful. She’ll never be forced into poor choices through lack of means, education or confidence. If she chooses to have children, I want her to know that she can make any choice she wishes when it comes to parenting. She can choose to stay at home with them, she can choose to further her career – my daughter will understand choice and know how to choose well. She’ll likely never learn how to iron a shirt, but I’m OK with that too.
If you're a working mother, or thinking about returning to work, Little Scholars provides the facilities to make your life easier
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