Monday, April 5, 2010

My Feminist High Horse

Weight: ??

Who gives a toss?  It was Easter weekend!  Nom nom nom nom...

On to some more interesting stuff.  There was a very interesting article on The F Word last week called Fertile Feminism, all about being both a mother and a feminist.  It raises issues such as finding yourself excluded from demonstrations because they are un-child-friendly, or ending up being a stay-at-home parent (read: Mother) because someone's career had to give, and your's was the lesser-paid of the two.  Hmm.  I think I've felt that somewhere before...

Once again, let me say: I KNOW I am extremely fortunate to be able to stay at home with my son every day and watch him grow up.  I acknowledge that there must be millions of parents who want to have exactly what I have.  HOWEVER... the reality of raising him myself 80% of the time is something quite different to the rose-tinted image working parents have of staying at home. My life is basically all about nappies, sleep, appointments and the dreaded, ugly, frustrating feeds.  Yes, Owen makes me laugh, and yes, I love to watch him learn something new (currently it's bouncing in his exer-saucer... he's had it for the last six months and only just figured out the thing can mooooove), but at some point, every single flipping day for the last ten months, I have had a meltdown.  Usually it's crying, but it might also be some mild violence (doors are good for slamming and cushions just deserve to be thumped), or even me just putting my screaming baby in his cot and walking into another room for ten minutes to get a grip.  In short: staying at home for me every day has never been a choice; it's never felt like a choice; and I resent the "choice" my partner gets to make in my place.

Because I was made redundant when I was six months pregnant (once again: WHO DOES THAT?) and I wanted to pursue a different career anyway, it seemed logical that it should be my responsibility to take care of our child when he arrived.  Well, ten months down the line and nothing has changed.  Okay, my third book is being published at the end of the year, and I've been able to make a limited means doing something I enjoy, but essentially my career was over before it even began.  I've been trying to figure out how to get a part-time job in retail, but as Mike would have to look after Owen while I'm out, the only real hours I have free are evenings/nights and weekends, which mean I'd either get no sleep or have no free time with Mike.  Or both.  So once again, I am unable to bring in any sort of meaningful contribution to the household finances and I cannot tell you how much I HATE THAT.

I wish Owen were healthier for so many, many reasons.  I mourn the loss of the Owen I didn't get to know: the one who developed normally and is already starting to toddle around.  My Owen, my beautiful, sweet, stubborn Owen, has so many struggles and set-backs and yet he has the kindest, nicest temperament of any baby I currently know.  He only cries when he's very tired or if he's refluxing, and the rest of the time he's all smiles and cuddles and wriggly-bottoms.  I just wish that this lovely little boy were around all the time, because I know that in forty minutes I have to feed him again, and out will come the confused, in-pain baby I have to force to eat.  It's torture for both of us.  I wish he were healthier so he could enjoy his food and spend more time learning how to crawl, or stand, or play with blocks like other babies.  I also wish he were healthier so he didn't have to have his fourth surgery two days after his first birthday, and his fifth a month after that.  I wish he didn't have to adhere to such a tight schedule and he could just tell me when he was hungry, and again when he was full.  And I also wish he were healthier so I could let him play at a daycare centre once in a while and I could work.

I try so hard not to wish for things I cannot have, because it doesn't help me and it certainly doesn't help Owen, but...

I still do.



  1. I know these are simply your personal circumstances, but once again, it's the man's job that seems completely inflexible, while your needs and desires and plans have to give way. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and you seems to be yet another person whose career has to take a back seat merely because you happen to be the woman/mother.

    You BOTH chose to have children, but it's you that's really paid for it. I know you'll say it just made sense for things to go that way but the price seems to be your mental health. You should definitely go for a part-time job, even just on a Saturday, for your own self-esteem and social circle, not to mention the money. It will do all three of you good to have Mike look after Owen for a bit, and you could still have Sundays and evenings, or something.

    It should not be you that makes all the sacrifices, just for being the female parent.


  2. You're right. Of course you're right. I think I will apply for some Saturday jobs.

    I was going to quote Naomi Wolf but I forgot. :)


  3. I agree with Anthea! She put it much better than I ever could x