March 10, 2013
Posted by glosswitch under Employment
| Tags: childcare
, gender stereotypes
, gender stereotyping
, Mother's Day
|  Comments
Until this week I had no idea that Hugo Chávez formally recognised the economic value of traditional “women’s work” . To be honest, I didn’t know much about Chávez. The one Venezuelan I know didn’t like him, but then none of us like our political leaders, do we? The most I’d assumed was that Chávez didn’t like women overly much, given the state of abortion law in Venezuela. Seems I was wrong, at least where a certain type of woman is concerned. It appears Chávez acknowledged that women who, to use the terminology of the average pay gap apologist, “don’t work because they’re raising children”, were bloody essential to a country’s welfare. Even if things were a bit more complex than that, as a basic principle that seems brilliant. Globally, we pay lip service to the devotion of mothers, yet so often stop short of saying you could actually put a price tag on it.
With Mother’s Day coming two days after International Women’s Day, I can’t help wishing it was more about that – genuine, heartfelt recognition – and less about a bunch of flowers, a pat on the head and yet another year of being horrendously undervalued. Don’t get me wrong, on a very personal level I love it. The card my five-year-old has written for me (“Thank you for all the love yoof givan me”) is just marvellous and I’ll treasure it forever. But as a cultural event, I wish Mother’s Day kicked a bit more arse. The commercial focus of it these days all feels rather KFC “Mum’s Night Off” in how it values what mothers do, bigging up inequality as a noble sacrifice in return for which you get, if not a bucket of chicken, then the only marginally better box of Thornton’s Continentals. It celebrates a particular type of motherhood – twee, self-effacing, repressed, waiting for that one day of the year when it can truly let rip with a half-bottle of rosé wine and a Lush bath bomb. It has got, let’s be honest, fuck all to do in appreciating what a wide range of mothers, all of different backgrounds and with different needs, do for their own children and society at large. If it did have, it would at least offer some form of meaningful response to all the things which piss us off. (more…)
February 19, 2013
This evening my eldest son and I had our worst ever fight. Or not even really a fight. A contretemps (me), or “Mummy being mean” (him). It ended with him sending me to my room because I wouldn’t get his cherry tomatoes - a sustitute for the lasagne being described as “poo” - out of the fridge. To be honest, I think he was surprised at how eagerly I accepted my punishment, but there had been worse moments than that and I was rather glad to retreat to my duvet and kindle while he stomped around downstairs throwing alphabet fridge magnets onto the floor.
February 17, 2013
Most people really don’t like mummy bloggers, do they? By this I don’t mean that the latter are facing intolerance on a daily basis. It’s not as though there are crowds lining up with pitchforks outside Mumsnet Towers (having said that, I’m not sure whether that’s even a real building). Anyhow, I just think that, if you asked most people what they thought of mummy bloggers, those who bothered to have opinions at all would not be expressing positive ones.
You could say it stands to reason. To the outside observer, mummy bloggers are like Private Eye’s Polly Filla, only with less successful writing careers. They’re whingey middle-class moaners, who think their children are the centre of the universe and that everyone else should be gripped by the trials and tribulations of parenthood. They write whiney posts about potty training, behaviour management, cake baking, childcare guilt and cleaning products. They even write whiney posts about whining. Narcissists of the hearth, they’re unable to see beyond the domestic sphere and engage with what really matters. What’s more, they’re so self-obsessed that they’re even aware that this is going on (in case you didn’t check – why ever not? – all of the above links lead to posts written by me. I’m so vain, I’m pretty damn certain this post is about me). (more…)
February 8, 2013
Top tip for partners: If you and your partner have children together and there’s one bit of parenting you don’t usually do – let’s say it’s getting everyone ready for the school and nursery run – and it just so happens that one day you get to do it – let’s say you’re setting off for work a bit later – and it turns out it’s really, really difficult, do you:
- think “crikey, this is stressful” and make a note that while your partner may not have to start work as early as you do, that doesn’t mean life’s necessarily much easier?
- stomp about wondering why no one has got a better routine established, intermittently asking the kids pointed questions that start with “but don’t you usually …” or “doesn’t Mummy get you to …”?
The correct answer is of course (1). The second one does NOT accurately describe the way my partner behaved this morning, but it just felt that way. Because I’m stressed and tired and so is he. We’re really, really tired and even though our children are lovely, they don’t half whine about irrelevant crap. (more…)
December 6, 2012
Author’s note: when reading this post, it’s important to imagine each word read out in as whiny, annoying a tone as possible. Plee-eee-eeease.
It starts first thing in the morning, at around 6:30am. The request could be anything – “can I go to the toilet / can I go downstairs / can I have a drink of water?” On cue I respond with “how do you ask nicely?”, thereby getting the required “please” .* I wouldn’t mind any of this. Okay, I would, a bit, but they are reasonable requests for little people to make. It’s just the tone that gets to me. I can’t stand the tone. Reader, my children whine. (more…)
November 19, 2012
“If working parents didn’t feel guilty enough about leaving their children at nursery, now new research has found …” starts the 1,00,695th Daily Mail article on the crapness of “working parents” (aka mothers in paid employment). Yes, fellow “working mums”, it’s our turn again. Just when you thought all eyes had been turned on stay-at-home mummy bloggers, it appears we’re back in the firing line. Bring it on! (more…)
November 4, 2012
As a parent, with five full years of parenting experience behind me, I’ve come to hate one thing in particular: people who refer to being a parent as though it offers them some divine insight into the meaning of life. “As a parent …”, they will begin, before going on to tell you how the arrival of Jake and Isabella totally changed their worldview, finally making them aware of what really matters. These people don’t mean to suggest that non-parents are inferior, but they do so anyhow. In addition to this, they make all other parents feel crap, since if we don’t agree with their “as a parent” positions, this somehow suggests we’re not doing enough to rise to the parenthood challenge. It drives me mad, this fake parental insight; just the sight of one Calpol “if you’ve got kids you’ll understand” slogan is enough to have me spitting feathers (as if non-parents are incapable of understanding that giving kids pain relief might mean they’ll be in less pain). Yes, I’m a sodding parent, but I don’t need this constant ego-stroking. Give me cheaper childcare and I’m happy. (more…)
October 16, 2012
Posted by glosswitch under Feminism
| Tags: childcare
|  Comments
I’m launching a new campaign to support much-maligned sector of society. Everyone, I give to you: Feminists For Yummy Mummies!
Now it might sound like I’m being sarcastic but actually, I’m not. I’m deadly serious. If there’s one group which suffers due to a very specific form of sexism which is rarely identified, let alone challenged, then it’s … Well, to be honest, there are many such groups. But well-kept upper-middle-class SAHMs definitely form one of them. It’s about time we did something about it. (more…)
September 14, 2012
Parents of small children! Have you been in paid employment today? Were you aware that this working “habit” of yours is something which, in years to come, you will deeply regret? In case you didn’t notice this – in case, for instance, you completely failed to take note of all the complete strangers around you saying, on a daily basis, “enjoy them while they’re young!” and “ooh, don’t they grow up fast!” – Huggies Little Swimmers have commissioned research in the top 20 regrets of parents today. (more…)
September 1, 2012
… working sets a good example. I spot that with my children. They imitate. I was sitting on the sofa the other day, reading some files – some quite secret stuff, actually – and I turned round and there was Florence, aged less than two. She’d got next to me, got a bit of paper and a pen and was copying me.
David Cameron, When Glamour met David..., Oct 2012
That was our wonderful Prime Minister, answering the question “David, are you able to come up with a twee anecdote in which you reveal yourself to be simultaneously an attentive father and a mega-important alpha male, and which at the same time gets in a quick dig at the workshy?” And is he? Of course he is! Only Glamour have somehow got the questions mixed up, meaning it looks like he’s responding to this instead: “My childcare fees are astronomical and tax credits have been cut. Could you tell me more about your new commission looking into this?” Ha ha! As if! (more…)
August 27, 2012
This morning I invented a new game! If you’re a parent of young children, why not give it a go? You might even get a full house (I managed it!).
Print out the list supplied below and wait for tantrum to occur (if impatient, break TV). Once tantrum is in full flow, go through list, ticking off each moment as it occurs. This can be in any order (although list is roughly chronological) (more…)
August 19, 2012
In response to some comments added to this post (see end) I’d like to add some clarification regarding the article under discussion. It was written by the Dating Divas in response to “a lot of emails from women who wanted ideas for after the baby came. They wanted to know how to make the father feel more included as well as creative sex ideas”. Evidently there is a demand for this and I am sorry for failing to acknowledge it (I nevertheless believe the response that was offered by the Divas still leaves much to be desired).
New mums! Have you noticed that, at the end of practically every guide to pregnancy and birth, you’ll find a section on “Daddy’s role” in all of this. This is because fatherhood is really important and needs, ooh, at least three pages of coverage to set against the four hundred that Mummy has had to wade through. Admittedly it’s still actually Mummy who’s meant to be reading the Daddy pages – after all, men are busy, aren’t they? So Mummy might as well read up on how to manage Daddy. She’s got sod all else to do.
I have always found these “Daddy’s role” sections profoundly irritating, for two main reasons:
- the author tends to assume that you are married to the father of your baby
- the author then assumes that your husband is in fact a self-centred knob
Time and again we are told that the arrival of a new baby can make Daddy feel “left out”. If you are anything like me, you will read this and think “sod off. I am too tired to deal with a grown adult feeling ‘left out’. We all feel ‘left out’. That’s because babies are really shit when it comes to empathy”. And then you will look at your partner and feel glad that he (or she) isn’t one of those self-centred knobs that the book describes. At least, that’s what you’ll think. But hey, you might be wrong. Daddy might just be hiding his true feelings from you. (more…)
August 9, 2012
Most mornings I trudge resentfully to work. Today, however, I skipped merrily through the August sunshine, eager to reach my desk, get my head down and perform my duties as a useful economic unit labouring away for The Man. Whence this joy? It’s not simply because my kids were being annoying, making the office seem a welcome break (let’s face it, that would be most days anyhow). It’s because I’d just read this, a piece that’s enough to make any sane woman think OFFICE! WOO-HOO! YEAH!
The piece I’ve uncovered (via @Scriptrix and @LynnCSchreiber) tells the story of a woman whose whole family turn up at her office to “liberate” her from the tyranny of work and celebrate the start of her new life as an “ever-present loving homemaker”. I don’t know if it is a spoof; I suspect it isn’t. Either way, it reminds me of the reasons why I became a feminist in the first place. (more…)
August 2, 2012
This evening my eldest threw a massive tantrum about the fact that it was my turn to put him to bed. His father and I do alternate nights, but Eldest always likes to claim it’s Daddy’s turn, every single time. Youngest is exactly the same. No one ever wants it to be Mummy’s turn. It’s a fate worse than having no Star Wars time.
You may wonder what can be so terribly lacking in my putting-to-bed skills. I wonder myself. I run Matey-filled baths, dole out beakers of tepid milk, read the same Horrid Henry stories again and again, but still it appears I’m useless. I’m just not the same as Daddy. Daddy is ace and I’m not. Daddy’s the favourite and Mummy – well, in a good mood, we’ll humour Mummy, but in a bad one we’ll just scream and scream and scream. (more…)
July 29, 2012
Ten years ago I had a twenty-a-day Mayfair Light habit. I’d wake up with a pack by the bed and lighting up was the first thing I’d do. To a non-smoker this may sound awful, but I loved my fags. It was the whole “being addicted” thing I couldn’t stand. So I booked in for some NHS group therapy – totally cringe but highly effective, and hence unlikely to be funded these days – and gave up completely. I still miss cigarettes, sometimes, but not how guilty and fearful the act of smoking used to make me feel.
Of course, now I find that, pregnancy-wise at least, I might as well have been at home chain-smoking in front of Deal or No Deal rather than venturing out for some honest toil. According to a study reported in the Guardian (and several other newspapers), “work after eight months of pregnancy can be as harmful as smoking”. Naturally this is a real kick in the teeth for those of us who were still at the photocopier at 36 weeks, swollen ankles be damned. (more…)
July 23, 2012
Way-hey! It’s the start of the holidays! School’s out, the sun’s shining, so let the fun begin! Well, it’s fun for the kids, anyhow, who’ll be at home all day, getting under everyone’s feet and turning the place into a complete and utter madhouse. To tell the truth, I don’t know how I’ll cope. Or rather, I don’t know how my partner will cope. Me, I’ll just be going to work as usual. And I hate to say it – and feel a tosser for doing so – but I’m feeling a bit left out.
One of the many reasons why my partner retrained as a primary teacher was so that he’d be around in the holidays for our kids. It was a good decision, but not one that I could have made (I am monumentally awful in front of a class of thirty). This summer is my partner’s first as a qualified teacher, and our eldest child’s first following a year at school. It’s a special summer for both of them. They deserve it – they’ve both done so well — but I can’t help thinking hang on – I want in! How can they be having an idyllic Cotswolds summer without me in it? (more…)
July 22, 2012
I’m in the middle of writing up my mid-year appraisal, a task which is of course harder than doing the actual work which is being appraised. It’s especially difficult if, like me, you fear that writing anything more positive than “I’m crap at my job” will make you sound like an arrogant knob. So you twist and turn and faff about, finding ever-more convoluted ways in which to say “I’m alright, really, I suppose”. And then you get to the question which asks you where you’d like to be in five years’ time.
In five years’ time I will be forty-two and five years’ closer to death. Obviously I’d prefer it if this wasn’t the case, but putting “I’d like to have discovered the secret of eternal youth” on your appraisal form is not the done thing. I know this because the form even suggests the criteria by which you should be assessing five-years-hence you: “career progression, training, aspirations, work-life balance”. Looking on the bright side, I can think of things to write for all of these, apart from the last one. (more…)
July 21, 2012
When we were kids, my brother and I would spend hours engaged in deep philosophical debates about why we were here. Or rather, why I was here (he was the eldest and for some reason or other, we never got on to discussing him). His line: ‘you were only born so I could have someone to play with’. My line: ‘I was only born because you were such a disappointment’. All very touching, I’m sure you will agree. Of course, we never got on to the real reason for my existence, which I will reveal to you now: I was born, as was my brother, so that our mother could get out of going to work, thereby screwing her employer and wasting an education that could have been given to a man. Forty years later, I imagine she’s still feeling smug about it. (more…)
July 13, 2012
Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, but right now, at this very moment, I am not at work! I got up this morning, overdosed on coffee, powered through the usual school-and-nursery nightmare run, arrived at the office, parked my car …. and scarpered off into town, fully intending to remain there until home time. Right now I’m in a café, with a peppermint tea and chunky chocolate biscuits. The music they’re playing is rubbish, but who cares? I’m not at work! And what’s more, nobody knows this but me!
Actually, that’s not strictly true. My boss knows this. Today has been officially signed off as annual leave (believe it or not, my idiocy does have some limits; skiving off work and then blogging about it is where I draw the lime). My partner and kids don’t know about it, though. As far as they’re concerned, Mummy’s in the office doing whatever it is Mummy does in there (my four-year-old once did an impression of me at work, which involved him waving his arms around to type and saying “I read email! Everyone annoying! I go home now!” The accuracy was astounding). This is not the first time I have taken a day off without telling my nearest and dearest. To be honest, I do it as often as possible, three or four times a year. I reckon everyone should, if they can. After all, what is a day off if everyone knows about it? They’ll just ask you to do stuff and the whole point of a day off is not doing anything. (more…)
July 12, 2012
Do you have one of those jobs that involves thinking outside the box? Do you indulge in blue-sky thinking on a daily, nay, hourly basis? Are you kicking those ideas around so hard that you’re wearing metaphorical football boots? If so, well done you. Perhaps you’re just the kind of person this country needs.
Of course, there are some who might feel “thinking outside the box” has become an excuse for people in senior positions to spout a succession of shit ideas without having to face the slightest consequence (It was just a bit of creative thinking. You didn’t think I meant it? Oh, and don’t forget your P45, which I’ve creatively tied to a purple balloon). Don’t believe the cynics, though. The UK needs its creatives. After all, we’ve got sod all proper industry left. Ours is meant to be a knowledge economy. We should all be sitting around having ideas (even if you’re getting minimum wage for cleaning toilets or working on the checkout at Asda. There’s gotta be a better way of doing everything, even the most boring jobs in the world, and if you haven’t found it, well, you’re not just letting down Wal-Mart – you’re letting yourself down). (more…)