As a stay at home mum I sometimes find that it can be easy to lose myself amongst the laundry, nose-wiping and toddler wrangling. Let me put it in another way, the way my five-year-old daughter did over dinner just the other day.
Mummy, you're just like our servant really, aren't you?
She must have seen my incredulous look of despair as she then tried to prove her point by further saying,
"No, but you are, when we want a drink you get it, you cook for us and tidy our toys. That is just what a servant does, isn't it?"
As I wept into a glass of Pinot that night I wondered what it was that I was actually teaching my children. On the one hand I am a complete card carrying feminist. As a girl I would shout down anyone, who even sniffed in a way that implied sexism especially the wannabe macho boys from the boys' school who shared our school bus. I don't know what they were teaching those boys at that school but their warped view of women and their role in society would have been enough to turn any stomach. I'm sure, well I hope, this isn't indicative of all male Catholic schools! Anyway I digress, back to my own role in my household.
My life however displays a different picture to the one my 18-year-old self envisioned. I am in effect a 50s housewife. It kills me when I watch Mad Men and see Betty Draper. I'm supposed to be Peggy not Betty.
I'm in my twenties I should have a big, inspirational career, I wanted that life. I never considered that it wouldn't be my life, after all I am a feminist. I don't conform to old fashioned views of women and their role, do I? Yet here I am.
I'm sat in a house where the mortgage is paid by my career driven husband. I have two young children and no career. This was not the plan.
How can I esteem and preach feminist ideals when I am effectively a kept woman - I die a little inside even writing those words! I admit I am often jealous of the life my husband leads, he has the busy career, and ultimately he has a persona that doesn't solely revolve around being a parent.
Don't get me wrong I do have the power of choice, my husband doesn't chain me to the kitchen sink each day! We both decided in the aftermath of being made redundant when my maternity leave ended nearly two years ago that I would stay at home with the girls.
Childcare was ridiculously expensive for a baby and toddler and being a social worker my hours aren't 9-5 and job shares or part time posts are like gold dust – not something for someone newly qualified like myself.
My husband owns his own business, working long hours and is often away on business trips. We have no family nearby so would have to get a nanny to make our lives work. There is no way on this earth we could afford a nanny! So in a sense the decision was made for me by our circumstances and it was something I struggled with for quite a while.
Where was I in all of this?
What was my identity?
How can I be a positive, feminist role model to my children with flour on my face and playdough in my nails?
I know that I can.
I will bring my girls up telling them that they should reach for the stars, that they are strong, confident, beautiful girls who can achieve anything they put their mind to. The caveat to this is that the 'stars' they reach for may not be the 'stars' they capture, in fact they may turn out to be even brighter ones.
I don't regret the fact I don't have a 'career' by society's standards; instead I look at where I am and look at the opportunities I have. I will admit that there are days when I still question what I'm doing, wondering whether I've made the right choices. But do you know what? This works for us, for now.
Feminism is about the freedom to choose to be who we want to be without the confines of male oppression. I choose to put aside my stereotyped notions of what success looks like for a woman. I choose to give myself a break and not constantly compare myself to others. I choose to live my life and to embrace what it is now. I choose to do whatever it is I do to the best of my ability.
So yes, at the moment my five-year-old may compare me to a servant in a Disney film but really she also thinks that she can control traffic lights and the television by blinking so what does she know anyway?!
In all seriousness, I believe that I am a feminist and I am a stay at home mum. They don't cancel each other out, feminism and my life just look a little different to me now than they did to the 18 year old me.
Morgana is a 20 something mum to a five-year-old wanna be princess/fairy/musketeer & a cheeky toddler. I'm also partial to a bit of vintage styling & thrifty living.
Blogs at: But Why Mummy Why?
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