It dawned on me that my eldest child probably thought that cows are purple and bunnies a pale blue colour, based on a number of children’s books he has read. I felt it was time for him to see some animals close up in real life.
All four of us spent an excellent day at Bocketts Farm in Surrey. I was really amazed how well set up it was – rain or shine, there was plenty to see and do. From animal petting / feeding, through to a variety of tractor rides and soft play.
Despite how busy the car park seemed, there were no queues anywhere and plenty to do to fill up a whole day. Granted that the main attraction / takeaway from the visit for my eldest was the sit on tractor, but I feel better that my child now knows the true colours of animals and I for one can’t wait to go back!
All of us who live in the UK and watch TV or read newspapers, or look at newspaper headlines as we walk by newspaper stands, know that Cherie Blair has recently attacked ‘yummy mummies’ who she apparently classifies as unfulfilled women, completely reliant on their husbands who raise totally dependent leaches unable to enter the world alone, give or take.
My first thought when reading this was, ‘I guess she’s not running for office.’ And maybe, for just a moment, I thought that she was a tiny bit inferior to her US counterpart because Cherie really has not striven as far or hard as Hillary. But of course, we all have different goals and maybe Cherie just doesn’t want to be the Secretary of State (or its equivalent) or run for president (or its equivalent) like Hillary. Hell, maybe Cherie only wants to be a QC.
Cherie has alienated herself from a huge portion of women. Not only from those of us lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay home with our children, but from those moms who work because they need the income to make a better life for their own children, not because their jobs are particularly fulfilling.
I was contemplating all this today as I hurriedly walked the FO (furry one) down my street on the way to pick up my LO from her always exciting afternoon at nursery. I waved to my new Greek neighbour as he drove by (his LO is 21 months but a bit leery of dogs as I’ve recently learned and yes life is better here). Another neighbour stopped at the corner and called out his window to ask about how his daughter’s babysitting has been going (she’s great and he knows this full well as she is the apple of his eye – or one of three apples of his eye). Then the plumber neighbour who has done some work for us drove by and waved.
If I weren’t home during the day, walking the dog, going to the playground and chatting with passers-by, I would not know any of these people. I enjoy knowing my neighbours. Not only that, but I believe that the neighbourhood is a better place because I do say hello to passers-by, chat with the teenagers who stop to pet FO, and know the kids on our street. Those of us who are present take a leading role in creating the community that I want to live in and want my child to grow up in just by being here and being a part of what is going on.
When I was in law school ten years ago, I never would have believed that I would be a stay at home mom. I had worked full or part time since I was 14 years old, generally enjoyed working and certainly enjoyed making my own money and the opportunities that it afforded me.
Even two and a half years ago, before my LO was born I didn’t envision being a stay at home mom. But now, a baby, a closed employer and resulting redundancy, and umpteen other experiences later, I enjoy being home with my LO. I enjoy being part of an active part of the community in a way that I was not able when I was working and commuting to London.
I also miss working and the fulfilment it brings (along with the pay check). But, contrary to Cherie’s broad brush thesis, I do feel reasonably fulfilled by raising my child and confident that (God forbid) if my husband were to drop dead as Cherie postulates, I could support myself.
In a world where all adults went to work full time, using a home as a place to stop for evenings and weekends, we would have neither the time nor inclination to build a community where we live. Particularly as fewer of us make religion a central part of our lives, building networks in our neighbourhood may be the best way to build community for ourselves and our families.
Those of us who stay home, whether for a long or short time, add value, not just to the lives of our family (according to at least one study my stay-at-home services are worth almost £113,000 – although my husband would surly fire me if I were a paid house cleaner) but to the community as a whole. We take the lead role in creating a place for our children and every working mom’s child to grow up in a safe and supportive community. As Hillary will tell you, it takes a village to raise a child.
Yes Cherie, the moms who use their talents and skills as professionals add value to our community. Likewise, the moms who go out to work because they have to support their children and the moms who stay at home both add value that should not be overlooked. In every case we are doing what we believe is necessary or best for our children and our community. While the division of work is different now than in the past, roles both on the work and home front still need to be fulfilled.
So, I continue to ponder why this debate rages on. In the words of the recently late if not particularly great Rodney King, ‘Why can’t we all just get along?’
By Guest Blogger ‘US Sarah’
As a number of people have looked at my two sons and said they are the spitting image of each other, the age old question of nature or nurture struck me. I was convinced that my second child would look very different. Why? Not because I had changed partner as I was often asked during prenatal checks, but because my husband and I have very different colouring and nearly two years had passed since the birth of my first child. However, it seems that certain genes are winning through based on the very similar eye, hair colour and overall build of my children.
I had always been amazed that my niece and nephew (similar age gap as my own two) were extreme in their girl and boy respective preferences. My sister and her husband did not influence them in any way with room / clothes colour choices or toys – decorating in neutral colours when they were very young and the second child having a lot of the hand-me-down toys to play with. However, my nephew wanted building kits, action men and brown or blue clothes whilst my niece LOVES pink, princesses and pretty dresses. They are wonderful children and get on together like a house on fire, but they do fall into the ‘typical’ boy / girl characters.
So are we ruled by our genes and hormones? While I hate to admit that we are all a bag of hormones and chemicals, this is the basis of our biological make up. However, I do truly believe that the environments we grow up in do influence us in our expectations and approach to life.
Whether a child is cared for by one parent, same sex parents, guardians, carers or any other possibility, it is hard to know whether it is genes or external influences that guide what makes us who we are. Like the chicken or egg question I have a feeling this one will keep conversations and debates going for some time. I’d love to hear your thoughts / experiences.