This blog I wrote about childcare is feeling particularly poignant for me today, on the eve of the kids going back to school and me going back to work. Twelve months on and those judgemental women still make me cross:
I was cleaning out the soiled newspaper from the chick cage yesterday when I noticed an opinion column about childcare. It made me so cross, I wanted the chicks to poo on it (but they crapped on the weather instead, which is understandable.) It was filled with moral outrage from readers. The most annoying stuff was written by women, which really, really, really got on my goat. I hate it when women start being judgemental about other women’s childcare choices. There were cliched comments like “why have them if you’re going to throw them into childcare?” and “If women are going to have babies, bloody stay home and look after them.” Hello? We’re not living in the 1950s. One look at the average mortgage is testament to that. It’s also been generally acknowledged that women have equal rights to men these days. Yes, really. So why is it solely a woman’s responsibility? How about hubby gives primary childcare a go? Mine did it for six months. He even appeared on 60 Minutes, singing its praises (well, the phrase “nail my balls to the letterbox so everyone can see I don’t have any” might have been mentioned, but he was generally positive about the experience.) I’ve been at home for seven months now, taking care of the kids. And I love it. Mostly. But I’m not going to flagellate myself if I get a job tomorrow. I’m a good mother, whether I work or not. Sharing a nanny, daycare, sending the Sprogs to after-school care – all of which I’ve done – doesn’t change that. My kids have simply had more people to love. When Sprog 1 was nine months old, a wonderful woman entered our lives: Nanny Catherine. Catherine helped care for my children for more than seven years, until I stopped work in July. The Sprogs adore her – we had lunch together last week. A woman came up to me in the park once, asking if I was the Sprogs’ mother. When I answered yes, she said, “I’ve watched your nanny with your children and she loves them like they are her own. I thought you’d like to hear that from a stranger who’s seen them together.” So don’t tell me my children have been disadvantaged by the choices I’ve made. Women work for many different reasons – often when they’d prefer to be with their children – and they deserve support, not bile.