Feeling a bit let down by 'the sisterhood'

(356 Posts)
Hopingitwillallbefine Mon 01-Jul-13 14:05:26

I am a new(ish) mum to a dd (11 months) and have just returned to work full time. This was not a decision I took lightly but made for a number of reasons, including the fact that we really need the money for a deposit for a new house and I love my job and have worked hard to get where I am, and would like to continue to progress in my career. My DH also works full time. We are fortunate enough to have reasonable working hours (him 9-5, me 8-4) which mean that between us we are at home with dd until about 8.15am in the morning and from 5pm in the evening. Between 8.30 and 5pm dd is at nursery. We chose her nursery because we loved it immediately and continue to be impressed and happy with the quality and standard of care it offers. Dd LOVES nursery, has made a great bond with her keyworker and seems to have such lovely, fun and full days.

Apologies for the boring details of our life - all pretty normal stuff. However the reason for my post and what has really upset me/pissed me off in the past few months has been the attitudes of other women towards the decisions we have made as a family about working hours and childcare arrangements. I have lost count of the occasions that I have been met with undisguised horror, disgust or pity when I've told female friends or colleagues I am back at work full time. Not all of them, but enough to make me feel like a dreadful mother. Responses like "is there nothing you can economise on so that you can drop a day or two?" Or "god you poor thing, that must be miserable". Even my manager has asked me if i want to consider going part time now I am a mum. Similarly, I have been treated to a variety of unhelpful and at times offensive remarks from friends and colleagues about our decision to use a nursery including suggestions that we are risking our dd developing attachment disorder or questions like "is there no way your family could help?" (No), "wouldn't you at least prefer a childminder?" (No), "have you thought about how damaging it could be if your dd's keyworker left?" Etc etc.

These comments are so frequent that I now have a pre-prepared mini speech when people ask about work or childcare to try and head off all the criticisms and 'helpful suggestions'. What annoys me is the implicit assumption that obviously I am only back at work FT out of absolute necessity and that if there were any alternatives at all I would of course be working part time or not at all as all good mothers should - and to admit that I have chosen to return full time partly because I still give a toss about my career and enjoy being at work is tantamount to declaring that I couldn't care less about my dd. Further, I wouldn't dream of questioning another woman's childcare choices and have been really upset and surprised by how many women seem to think that nursery is virtual child abuse and it is their responsibility to educate me on the reasons why. But finally, and the reason for my post in this section of MN is that all of this, without exception has come from other women. Not one man has made me feel bad about my choices or questioned them in any way. Similarly, my husband, who earns exactly the same as me, has never been made to feel bad about being at work FT. Nobody has ever suggested that he might want to go part time now we have a child.

So I just feel a bit let down by women at the moment. I know it is impossible to 'have it all' and I'm not pretending otherwise, but I would like to continue to pursue my career while providing as much care, love and attention to my dd as I can. I love her more than I knew possible and love spending time with her. I feel genuinely excited every day when I go to pick her up and we have a lovely two hours together every evening after work when I am totally and utterly focused on her. We have lovely weekends as a family and spending time together having fun is so important to me. But I also love being at work and enjoy my day and feel so fulfilled by it. Shouldn't other women be supporting me and encouraging me, isn't this equality and freedom what we have fought for for years?

Xenia Thu 11-Jul-13 11:53:04

Good, hoping. I always have done for nearly 30 years now. I want that message out there that being a full time working woman who adores her work and children is for many of us the very best of choices and can make everyone happy and children thrive. Too many press stories, presumably because the journalists are inadequates who cannot manage work and home and who have been silly enough to marry or tolerate sexist men and live in unequal marriages, go on about how impossible it is to work full time as a woman (but never as a man) whilst having children.

I always try in a positive way to put my point of view. If people say it must be hard I say it is much easier than being at home, that many people find 24/7 childcare very dull and that being a work provides a nice balance as well as feeding the children. I remember being invited on Woman's Hour about 20 years ago to talk about these same issues and it is a pity that now my daughters are in their 20s it is still necessary to discuss it although it much better now. Most men accept they need to do as much cleaning and child care at home particularly when their wives often out earn them these days.

Hopingitwillallbefine Thu 11-Jul-13 11:32:49

But without teetering's remarks the debate may never have developed as it did so I'm grateful for that at least! Every debate needs an opposing side... I have learnt a lot from this one and have come away armed with extra confidence and lots to think about and reply with when challenged. Yesterday for the first time I found myself talking confidently and unapologetically about my work and childcare choices which was such a refreshing change to the way I have felt and acted over the last few months - thanks mnetters smile

teetering13 Wed 10-Jul-13 12:36:31

Thank you

teetering seriously those are some of the most passive-aggressive, goading posts masquerading as humour and insoucience that I have ever read on MN.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Wed 10-Jul-13 09:51:38

biscuit

teetering13 Mon 08-Jul-13 16:21:44

Well, if we're being picky ... OP actually said she had a mini speech prepared, so she wasn't looking for advice on how to handle comments ... She was actually wondering why women didn't encourage and support her ...

Which to me leaves it open for people to express their opinions ..

but we aren't going to be THAT picky are we? ... I really cba going through posts looking for the odd word here or there that I could bash the poster with :/

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 08-Jul-13 15:37:13

Yes, of course everyone has their own opinions and is allowed to express them. But this thread wasn't meant to be abut people's opinions on childcare v work. The OP had made and was happy with her decision and wanted advice on how to handle the comments she was getting that were making her unhappy.

Xenia Mon 08-Jul-13 15:20:05

I think we are all free to express our views. I am allowed to say housewives are not giving their child the best start and they should consider full time work and the housewives are saying a mother who puts her child in a nursery is not giving their child the best start. There - both sides are quits.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 08-Jul-13 15:12:06

Well, you accused me of getting your words wrong and I was pointing out that the phrase I was objecting to didn't involve 'child' or 'baby' but was the statement where you said the OP wasn't giving her child the 'best start'. Which were in fact a direct quote from you.

teetering13 Mon 08-Jul-13 10:01:39

ermm not being picky there are we grin

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 08-Jul-13 09:59:14

Well, you said 'I think your Husband and you aren't giving your child the best start', which is what I took you up on.

teetering13 Mon 08-Jul-13 09:54:37

I said babies in full time childcare .. I see a difference between a baby who can't communicate and a child that can.

I'm not in an argumentative mood today though so that's all I can be bothered to type smile

LadyClariceCannockMonty Mon 08-Jul-13 09:42:23

teetering, you said 'Having a baby in childcare from 8.30am till 5pm is a long time. I think your Husband and you aren't giving your child the best start, but if it's the way it has to be then it's the way it has to be ...'

from which I extracted 'best start'. So, not wrong but a direct quote from you.

'Is it pissing you off?' No, I said 'people' as in lots of people on the thread, not me personally or solely.

'assuming any shit you want just so you can go on the attack ..' I don't know what you think I assumed and I'm not sure why you say I'm on the attack. I thought I was 'on the debate/conversation'.

'you pissed off again now? ... Good.' Um. No. Do I disappoint?

'helps with your anger issues'. I don't have them and it's quite amusing that you assume I do, when you've accused me of making assumptions about you.

'By the way, you got my words wrong ... but I wouldn't expect you to read what I type properly while being so enraged' Addressed at the top of my post.

garlicsmutty Sun 07-Jul-13 13:30:28

Victims of sexual violence or harassment are routinely blamed from the minute they speak up. There is also much support for perpetrators, even when found guilty (and not infrequently from the sentencing judges.) We need to get rid of the idea that It's How Men Are. It's obviously not true; it's a myth put about and believed by the 6% (iirc) who are perpetrators. Soon as everybody else stops going along with them, they'll stand out more for identification & appropriate shaming.

I hope no one condemns anyone victim or alleged rapist until a conviction.

Agreed, but from what I see around me, this is what happens. Check out the Everyday Victim Blaming campaign, you will see what I mean.

I also agree that we are far from equality in marriage, in many cases. Not all, but many.

Xenia Sun 07-Jul-13 12:03:52

I hope no one condemns anyone victim or alleged rapist until a conviction. There is certainly much work to be done to improve the balance of power within relationships and ensure women earn more than men or the same or have the chance to and not be foisted into home making when plenty would rather out earn their man and rise to the top in a range of careers within equal marriages.

I agree with you Xenia that most men and women, if asked that question in that way, would agree with shaming men who rape. But why in practice do they only shame men who are convicted of violent rape of strangers? And often come out in support of men who are accused of rape, instead shaming those that claim to be the victims?

Xenia Sun 07-Jul-13 10:03:08

Most men and women would agree with shaming men who rape. I would like men to feel inadequate and useless if they don't do half the housework and childcare too as is the case plenty of feminist homes int he UK and has been for 30 or more years but some women still don't seem able to achieve.

Yes.

Hopingitwillallbefine Sun 07-Jul-13 07:50:37

Chris Brown is a prime example

It sounds like you're strong enough to shrug off attempts to shame you teetering <bumps fist>

As for shaming men for violence, rape and shouting sexually explicit remarks ... well yes, that happens

Not nearly as much or often as it ought to.

teetering13 Sat 06-Jul-13 17:39:43

Saying that ^^ .. society has changed, I couldn't have lived my lifestyle 50 years ago

teetering13 Sat 06-Jul-13 17:38:21

Well .. I am a single parent, I haven't been shamed by that, I support myself financially, I haven't been shamed by that .. people haven't said anything, I've not been made to feel awful ... is that because I just don't? .. Maybe the odd thing has been said and it's gone totally over my head because I'm not buying into it?

As for shaming men for violence, rape and shouting sexually explicit remarks ... well yes, that happens

garlicsmutty Sat 06-Jul-13 17:34:28

I am not sure it is really at all extreme - shame on you, walk down the street embarrassed at the awfulness that you work (or that you don't work) in the way of other kinds of shame.

Not at the moment. It was that bad in the Sixties (also, men were shamed if their wife "had to work". Where a woman pursued her career, both partners needed balls.) And things can go backwards very fast - who'd have thought wheelchair users would suffer barrages of verbal & physical abuse? - so we need to be alert.

I like your plan, Buffy!

What is clear is that women have often been controlled by societal shaming which is rarely applied to men.

How about we balance it up a bit? Less shaming for women about things like whether they conform to cultural stereotypes of nurturing, self-sacrificing earth mothers supported by a male partner, and more shaming of men who do things like rape, commit violence and shout sexually harassing remarks from their cars.

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