In response to a reader comment after a recent interview in The Guardian, Kirstie Allsopp remarked: "I think for someone to use the word housewife pejoratively is rude."
I agree with her completely. The early suffragettes fought for the right to vote, which is inherently about having a choice. To claim that women choosing to stay at home are undermining the feminist movement is nonsensical. Women (and indeed men!) have a right to have their choices respected, whether they choose "mothers' work", housewifery - whatever you want to call it - or a professional career.
But my real bone of contention isn't with the reader who criticised Kirstie Allsopp. It is the fact that our government and so many in our country seem firm in their belief that parents (usually mothers) who stay at home with their children are somehow less important and less worthy than those who are back in the workplace as soon as the cord is cut.
Of course, there are women out there who do not have the luxury of choosing to stay at home with their children. Times are tough, and I know that I'm lucky to be able to be at home with my son to spend this precious time with him. I'm not criticising these women at all - nor am I suggesting that it's wrong for mothers who are financially able to stay at home to go to work. If that's what they want to do. A happy mother is much more likely to raise a happy child.
In the first three years of life, a baby's brain doubles in size. It is in these years that their capacity to learn language; to understand their environment; to develop a sense of right and wrong; and to gain confidence and security are formed. Parents who stay at home with their children have a unique chance to help grow their children into human beings who are kind, thoughtful, literate adults.
That's assuming that SAHM are actually doing these things with their children and not just parked in front of Jeremy Kyle while their child screeches away in the background. Days are surely filled with a bit of laundry folding, followed by a lengthy lunch with the girls over chilled pinot, an invigorating stroll around the park and a quick nap with the baby before dear old hubby returns from a hard day's toil.
That's a huge misconception. I have worked in both the public and private sector in demanding jobs and I can tell you honestly that I never worked as hard as I do now. And yet I speak to so many people who say that I must be 'bored' at home with my child; that I'm 'wasting' my intelligence and that my mind 'must be in need of a challenge'.
This patronising attitude just screams ignorance and hypocrisy. I defy anyone to say they have never been bored in their career. That they have never stood at the photocopier and thought there must be more to life; rubber-stamped the 50th document to pass through their hands in a week or reviewed the same patient with athletes foot over and over again. How fulfilling. Yes, sometimes life as a full time mother is boring; but that doesn't undermine its value.
We are raising the next generation of adults. Adults who will lead our nation into the future, who will be responsible for pioneering discoveries; new inventions; cures for cancer. Adults who will represent us in sporting events, politics, literature, medicine. They will teach generations of children to come, they will become part of our history and the legacy we leave behind.
If you get rid of our army of mothers, we'll be left with a very sorry future indeed.
I'm Katie and I'm a parent, new home-educator, teacher, writer, wife, learner..... I could go on. I'm just a bit of everything really, just like we all are.
Blogs at: Happiness in Learning
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