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’