Today, I wish women hadn’t burned bras for us and that Emmelline Pankhurst had just piped down and done the ironing. Clearly that’s a big statement to make, given I count myself as a semi-feminist and have had many opportunities available to me, regardless of my sex, thanks to these brave women from history. But today is different. Today the world expects me to leave my precious first born in the arms of another, so I can resume my place in the workforce and contribute my part to society, as an equal – as men are expected to do. As my husband was expected to do after two weeks of paternity leave. No thanks. Today, I would rather return to the days of old where the man’s role was to be the provider and the woman stayed at home to look after their children.
I’m one of the lucky ones – I received a maternity package that meant I could be at home with my daughter for twelve months and now only have to return part time. Many mothers and families don’t have this luxury and it’s only fairly recently that working mothers were allowed any more than 3 months of maternity leave. However, none of that matters as I leave my dependant child sobbing in her nursery key worker’s embrace and head off to resume my employee role and I’m not alone. The majority of mums I have met since doing the baby group circuit are returning to work. Admittedly, most are reducing their hours, but we live in an era where we rely on dual wages to fund our lifestyles and have strong career aspirations. I question whether I am doing the right thing returning to work – as many parents do.
Fast forward three months and I’m thinking more rationally. My daughter has had her first nursery parents’ night and has settled well and is benefitting from time with other children. I am enjoying the challenge of paid employment and a flick through the weekend newspapers is a healthy reminder of the influence of feminism – Nicola Sturgeon has just become the first female First minister in Scotland. I am grateful that my daughter will grow up in a country where she can aspire to be an equal and follow her dreams. Sadly, there are many places in the world where this is still not the case.
I recognise my thinking back then was extreme – probably due to fear and sleep deprivation.
So on reflection, perhaps we ladies can have it all – family and career – or at least a bit of it all, should we want it.