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how much quality time?

(26 Posts)
Croppy Wed 18-Apr-01 12:26:33

Grrrrr! Another annoying article in the Daily Telegraph. Written by a young(ish) Oxford graduate singing the praises of having babies young. Amongst the aspects of it that are irritating is the general thrust of it that we are all supposed to be amazed at their sacrifice because, gasp, the women referred to in the article all went to Oxford and so by having babies, they are all naturally foregone the most amazingly glittering careers... They are all in their mid - late 20's so are only doing what millions of women throughout the country are doing anyway. One says that working is a "soft option" compared to bringing up children. I wonder what doing both is then?.

Final line is "it is only with infinite sacrifice that women are able to combine a full time career and babies, two fundamentally incompatible parts of life".

They all seem to think they will have no trouble at all entering a profession at the age of 35 when their children are at school - fat chance!!.

Bugsy Wed 18-Apr-01 13:16:12

The article made me laugh. Clover came across as being rather smug and self-satisfied with her choices. I have no gripe with people who want to have their babies at whatever time of their life they so choose but there is no point deluding ourselves. Clover seems to think that by 35 (she is currently 25) she is going to leap back on the career step-ladder although she doubts she will ever be a "ball-breaking businesswoman". So those are the only two options then?
I'm delighted that Clover is happy with her choice of motherhood but the article was nauseating. I wonder if 25 yr old mums who didn't make it to Oxford and are stuck in run down estates in Glasgow with a couple of toddlers feel the same about their "career choice"?

Bells Wed 18-Apr-01 13:29:11

I thought it was a ridiculous article which I'm sure the author will be embarassed about when she is 35 (and apparently too old to cope with the exhaustion of motherhood!). Despite the media myth to the contrary, I know very few women in careers who deliberately postpone having children solely as a result of their job. Most people seem to end up having children simply when they meet the right partner.

Clover does indeed seem very smug and also very naive.

Tigermoth Wed 18-Apr-01 15:07:07

I havn't read the article, but from what you all say, I think it would elicit a grrrr from me, too. I wonder how many of these young Oxford mothers have partners with fledgling glittering careers to help support them? Anyway, mustn't sound chippy.

More to the point, how could any 25-year-old who has spent the best part of their life studying, know with any degree of certainty (perhaps that's what she graduated in!) that a full-time career and babies are 'fundamentally incompatible'. Difficult at times, OK, as with hundreds of choices and compromises in life.

It seems to me that she's victim of that easy mistake: making generalisations to justify her own personal situation.

Croppy Wed 18-Apr-01 15:32:54

Exactly Tigermoth!. It really annoys me when people resort to generalisations to justify their own decisions.. If she's happy great, but don't put down those of us who decide to have children later and / or work at the same time to elevate her own saintly position....

Hmonty Wed 18-Apr-01 15:59:12

So the author's mother was a debutant was she? Does this mean there's plenty of money lurking in the background so that she doesn't have to worry about earning....or am I being particularly cynical?

Be interesting to see how these women feel in a few years time when that initial baby glow has worn off a bit (notice all their children are very young) and their rich and influential college friends are having planned career breaks to have children....and they're then struggling to start up a career....

Obviously I should be far too tired to comment though being one of those (nearly) 35 years olds who are exhausted by motherhood and (gasp) a full time job....

Sml Thu 19-Apr-01 08:28:07

I haven't read the article, and it does sound as if this woman is lacking some experience of life, as well as being lucky enough not to have to work. But actually I think that is quite a good strategy, having babies young and then getting on the career ladder. The principle's the same for an Oxford graduate or someone from a run down Glasgow estate: when you decide to go back to work, do a course to update your skills/gain new ones and then it's possible to get your first serious job. The disadvantage is that you may never make up the pay gap, plus you missed all those years of having loads of money and no ties, but the big advantage is that when you're in your fifties you'll have ... loads of money and no ties! as well as being a young grandparent, which is an advantage often overlooked.

Croppy Fri 20-Apr-01 07:02:18

Maybe SML, but in my experience, most companies like their graduate trainees to be 22 rather than 35. Do you really think that 7 - 10 physical years makes such a difference to your age as grandparents - isn't mental attitude more important?. Also, I would far rather establish my career when I have no ties and can therefore happily work long hours and travel etc. I would hate to start when my children are 10 (as Clover is intending to) when they are just about to embark on those hormonal years. My strategy has always been to be in a financial position to give up work when my children are in their early teens. I have always thought that this is the time they really need you most.

In any case, I have absolutely no problem with people having children early - It was what she said about women in their 30's having children and working full time that aannoyed me!!.

Sml Fri 20-Apr-01 09:00:46

Croppy, I think yours is a good strategy too. I am thinking about the majority of people who wouldn't be able to save enough to stop working when their children are older. Also, remember, not every career is as cut-throat as the City - you don't have to work extraordinary hours in most jobs! I work quite long hours if you add the studying I do at home, but I rarely do overtime. (got to stay late tonight - blagghhh!)
I must admit that I am rather in favour of having children younger because my mother was rather older than most when I was born. I do think there is some truth in the theory that you cope better with starting a family when you are younger - 15-20 years in my mother's case as she had children in her forties. Agree that mental attitude has quite a lot to do with it though, also not meaning to cast aspersions at any older mothers out there, we all do the best we can manage in our particular circumstances in life, the background we come from, our early influences etc.
But, I disagree that it's just chance when you meet the right man. We influence our destiny far more than we realise, consciously and sub consciously. If your number one target from age 20 is to meet the right man and have children, it's going to happen a lot quicker than if your no 1 target at that age is to enjoy yourself, get started in a career and make some money. Must stress that I'm not saying that one is better than the other, or right or wrong - there are advantages and disadvantages to everything.
By the sound of it, this article would have annoyed me too! and I am sure that you are right that this woman will understand a whole lot more when she is 35 and working with teenage children.

Croppy Fri 20-Apr-01 09:43:18

You make a lot of good points SML. My mother was 36 when she had me and always had a very demanding career. Now in her 70's she is extraordinarily energetic and maintains a busier life than many women half her age. I did however get faintly embarassed about her grey hair when I was a teenager!!. As you say, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything.

I must say though that I do feel somewhat uneasy when friends marry someone because they decide they want to have a baby or because they have turned 30 or whatever. I am a great believer in waiting for the right man to come along rather than trying to make someone the right man because the timing or conditions are right. I thought my husband was utterly and completely ridiculous when I first met him and had absolutely no interest in having a serious relationship. It was only through his persistence, charm and humour that he won me over.

Sml Fri 20-Apr-01 13:00:02

I got embarrassed by my mother's grey hair too, especially when girls at school thought she was my grandmother! But that wasn't half so embarassing as the knee length, A line tweed skirts she used to run up for my sister and me... until we finally rebelled against them. However, I must say that a younger parent who wore flares would have been pretty shame-making in the eighties as well!
I agree a little about rushing into marriage because you are hitting 30, but I also think that if the timing and conditions are right, there are lots of "right" men about ... sorry if that sounds glib to any single women reading this!
Isn't it funny how our visions of our ideal man change when we meet him in the flesh though!

Tigermoth Fri 20-Apr-01 14:12:04

I must say that even though it was love at first sight when I saw my husband, it took years of marriage before I could be persuaded to have a baby.

In retrospect, I would have liked to have embarked on parenthood a bit sooner ( 32 -ish) - I gave birth to my first son at 36, but nothing would have changed my mind about the joys of childlessness when I was in my late 20's and early 30's. Then again it was easy for me to procrastinate and enjoy myself, because I was in a stable relationship.

Batters Fri 20-Apr-01 21:13:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Eulalia Sat 21-Apr-01 10:31:02

I also agree that mental attitude is more important. People are living longer and tending to extend their 'youth' into their thirties. And why not have a bit of fun first when you have got more money and then settle down?

I think very few people in their 50s have got loads of money and no ties Sml! Even if you have got kids they will always be a worry to you.

I've known people to have their kids early, early 20s say and they have all flown the nest by the time the parents are in their early 40s. Then they feel lost because they don't know what to do and they still have about 40 years of life ahead of them.

I had my child a month before my 34th birthday and have felt that this was the right time. I was extremely relaxed throughout the pregnancy. I'd spent 10 years working, studying, going on holiday and then yes I decided to yet married and have a child (but I had been with husband for 10 years already). This I think was a far better decision than getting married young to someone unsuitable, perhaps having a kid and then getting divorced with the consequent upset to the child. Also people who have kids young often resent their children for taking away their freedom. It is all very well to say you can go out again when you are 45 but that seems like a long way off at the time.

Generally speaking people know themselves much better in their 30s and make better decisions.

My mum was 36 when she had me and my sister and I can honestly say I hardly noticed her age. She is still a very active 72 year old.

Tish Sat 21-Apr-01 11:30:58

I was really interested in all of your comments about the Daily Telegraph article, but to go back to Elga's first message - help! how can you be a parent and not feel constantly guilty? If I do tell my kids off, don't play with them when they want me to, decide to sit down and have a cup of tea and refuse to move if they want something I feel like I should be done for child abuse.

These feelings really get me down and work in a viscious cycle. As soon as I feel guilty, I start beating myself up, get stressed, do more of the things I wish I didn't (shouting at the kids, being impatient, etc.) and then I get guilty again, more stressed... etc. Am I mad? If it was somebody else I could say "look you deserve time off and time to yourself", but as it's me I can't. My mum was always very patient and so I feel I should be like her and she does sometimes say things that make me feel bad about my parenting, but to be honest, most of the time she is a help emotionally and always practically. My husband says I'm doing a good job and that the kids are great and I should try and relax, but I still have this part of me that feels I should be perfect. I am mad aren't I? These feelings of negativity have led me to taking anti-depressants and when I take them I feel less negative, but when I stop the little doubts start gnawing at me again.

I think that the fact that my kids are adopted makes me feel much more that I should be extra-special and although I can rationalise this and say that I am being ridiculous, on an emotional level I can't stop my feelings.

Sorry to ramble on, but I would appreciate some advice. If I tell my mum or my husband all this then although they'll listen I'll feel even worse about it all.

By the way, in case you can't tell I am full of guilt all the time and although I come across to people who don't know me well as confident, in fact I am the opposite, always apologising and feeling at fault.


Twinsmum Sat 21-Apr-01 12:27:14

Tish, just because you're children are adopted doesn't mean that you don't have the same rights as every other parent to feel fed up / guilty / mixed up etc. My children were born after IVF treatment and I feel exactly the same (ie. should spend everyday in eternal gratitude.) We're all human adn I'm sure you're a fantastic mum to your kids.

Twinsmum2 Sat 21-Apr-01 13:06:14

Dear Twinsmum- I think that having twins, whether naturally or IVF keeps you permanently guilty!I have two sets of twins and obviously they have had to share from day one- not only toys etc. but our time as well. When they were younger I almost felt sorry for them, not having the latest toys, gameboys, Center Parc holidays etc, but have realised that they are very lucky young ladies[they are now 18ysr and 15yrs old] because they have had a lot of love from us and they have always got someone to have a giggle/moan/shout with. My problem is getting them to stand on their own two feet- life is too cosy for them to want to get out and do things on their own, although we have brought them up to be individuals. I almost feel sorry for their friends who have no siblings, or maybe just one younger sister/brother- they seem to need to be doing something the whole time,whereas my lot can just chill out with one of their sisters! Ah well, time to go and feel something else to be guilty about- I am a mother after all!

Numbat Sat 21-Apr-01 13:53:46

Tish - take a good look at your kids. Are they happy? If they are (and I expect they are)you must be doing OK. So you went on with your cup of tea instead of being grateful for the chance to do something for them? Good, you just gave them a lesson in give-and-take and respecting you as a person. So you lost your cool and snapped at them? You gave them a chance to learn about negative emotions in a safe and loving environment. I don't mean we shouldn't all try to be good parents, keep our tempers and all that, but I find it helpful to keep the big picture in sight.

Numbat Sat 21-Apr-01 13:56:07

Tish - take a good look at your kids. Are they happy? If they are (and I expect they are)you must be doing OK. So you went on with your cup of tea instead of being grateful for the chance to do something for them? Good, you just gave them a lesson in give-and-take and respecting you as a person. So you lost your cool and snapped at them? You gave them a chance to learn about negative emotions in a safe and loving environment. I don't mean we shouldn't all try to be good parents, keep our tempers and all that, but I find it helpful to keep the big picture in sight. Home is where your kids learn to deal with other people, and other people do get tired and cranky and do have their own interests!

Twinsmum Sun 22-Apr-01 11:27:01

Hi Twinsmum2....Hope you don't mind me asking but were your two sets via fertility treatment or natural?? Even with all the hard work I love having twins...but I don't know how I'd feel about two sets!!! I've got 2 lovely little boys but would like to have a little girl. To be honest don't think I'll even try because I was told after having having the boys that for various reasons IVF was highly unlikely to work again. (Its so lovely being able to write this in such a casual'd like to have another child, but talking from the point of view of someone who already has children...rather than someone who is absolutely desperate to have one. Never thought it would happen.)

Jac Sun 22-Apr-01 12:52:25

Twinsmum, if your not sure whether you want any more or not, be careful if you are not taking precautions! My first was IVF and I didn't bother with contraception as I naivly thought I could not get pregnant. After about 1 year I had a positive pregnancy test but I came on after I was only 4 or 5 days late. Still no precautions! Then when we did decide to have another I couldn't get pregnant, went to see IVF people to arrange it, then I had another positive test and same thing happened, then 1 month later another positive result which stuck and I had another girl! Needless to say I now bother with contraception!!

Debsb Mon 23-Apr-01 12:32:44

Tish - in our house we always have 'quiet time' after lunch. This lasts as long as it takes me to finish my cup of tea, and if I'm having a bad day I've got a very big cup! During quiet time the kids are allowed to play all they want, but the rule is Mummy & Daddy are left alone, it's Mummys' quiet time not theirs.. It doesn't always work, but is classed as sufficient reason NOT to do the playing, reading etc etc. I don't know how old your kids are, but mine are 3 & 5 & have been doing this for a couple of years now.
Oh, I have also read somewhere that PND is more common amongst people who have had fertility treatment, and is possibly linked to psychological feelings of 'having to be perfect' as this was such a wanted child, and then feeling guilty if you'd like them just to dissappear for a while. Perhaps you are suffering from something similar, after all you must have gone through a very stressful time before you had your children, especially as they are adopted? Have you read Libby Purves 'how not to be a perfect mother' - I found it really helped.

Tish Thu 26-Apr-01 05:41:49

Thanks ever so much for all of the helpful comments. I think that I was having a really down day. I was interested to hear from Twinsmum as a mother of IVF kids. I think it is a really big problem this feeling that if you have a child "with help", whether it be through aided fertility or by adoption that you can feel quite taken aback by any negative feelings when you get your dream. Does anyone know of any useful publications about this? Or perhaps I should write a book (ha ha). Thanks also to Numbat and Debsb for believing in me. I think that the problem with parenting is that you only really hear about when you do things wrong, not the other way round. Although on saying that, my 2 year old had an almighty tantrum in Somerfields on Tuesday and two people that I'd never met congratulated me on dealing with my son so well! Miracles do happen and since then and the other nice comments I have felt much better. Thank you.

Donna247 Wed 31-Oct-01 16:22:45

i spend all day with my little girl.
but my husband when get back from work all he does is play on the computer
he work 8 hours a day but has 2 day off a week.
and on his days off he still plays on the computer allday 12 hours plus:(

Jessi Wed 31-Oct-01 18:24:44

You must sort this out as its deeply unfair on you! Whay not try and compromise with him, say that after he's supervised feeding/bathing your daughter, you'll put her to bed and he can then go on the computer. For his days off I would compromise again on a slot during the day which is his time on the computer (ideally while your child is having their daytime nap - your time off!). Maybe then arrange a family outing in the afternoon so that when his time's up, your all off out doing something together? Good luck, it sounds like you must need a break!

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