Last week I wrote about not being sorry for having a nanny. Generally speaking I received an amazing reaction to that article and I got many messages from mums who related to what I wrote. But I also got some stick for it: some mums felt I was letting my children down, and they were not shy to tell me what they thought about my parenting choices. It made me sad. Not because I think they are right, or because I actually care what total strangers think about me, but rather because it made me think about how less fortunate we are these days for not having that 'sisterhood' bond women once used to have.
The way I see it, in a world where women are expected to do it all: be mums, be educated, work, look great, be smart, be sexy, wax EVERYTHING, cook, clean, play, read books, do the school run, help with the homework, carry babies in their tummies, give birth, breastfeed, OMG the list is far too long to complete! So in THAT world, is it really so wrong to have help?
My relationship with our nanny extended far beyond an employee and employer relationship - she was like a mother, like a sister and she helped me with the twins for the first two years of their lives. She did not raise them for me -- we did it together and I am not afraid, or ashamed, to give her the credit she deserves for that.
Yes, I went back to work, and yes -- I felt guilty about that. BUT in that decision I had to consider many other factors -- for one, I was going to earn more money than we were laying out on childcare and secondly, (and I am not afraid to admit this) -- I NEEDED to get out.
I love my children with all my heart. They are by far the most treasured people in my life and I want to spend as much time as I can with them. Having said that, I also need some time away from them, as awful as that may sound to some people, this is MY truth and how I feel, and I am not going to lie about it just to try and please everyone.
I also refuse to be defined just as a mother simply because I am one, (even though being a mother is something that gives me an enormous amount of pride and joy). I am also many other things and I don't see why it's wrong that I want to ALSO work and better myself professionally, or just 'have a life' that has nothing to do with the kids or with being a mum.
I refuse to believe that once I became a mother I should have given up every aspect of my life before kids, and completely dedicate myself to motherhood, as if nothing I did before then mattered, or as if nothing else I might still want to do is worth it.
What utter bollocks!
I have never, ever neglected my children, in fact I was very lucky to be able to find an amazing part time job that is also local which means that I work six hours a day and still make it in time for 'pick up' every day! But I refuse to use that as some sort of justification for working, because let's face it, many mums who have to/ or want to work, can't always get part time jobs, and some might not even want that if they could, and that is THEIR CHOICE and it is okay!
Whether a mum works or stays home, breastfeeds or bottle feeds, co-sleeps or sleep trains, how can anyone apart from that specific mum, truly know what led her to make that choice?
But what gets me more than anything, and this is the real reason I am posting this article, is the fact that there is still so much "mummy shaming" out there.
I saw a lady yesterday at my daughter's swimming class really struggling with her 3 year old. He did not want to wear his swimming costume and she just didn't know what to do with him, to the point that he totally lost it and had a complete meltdown crying and screaming on the floor.
My first thought was "why isn't she doing something" and I had many judgemental thoughts running in my head in that moment.
But then I looked at her. She looked beaten, and I felt so sorry for her. I didn't know what her day was like before that moment. I had no idea what happened earlier and why this three year old was so upset. How dare I judge this lady who I didn't even know?!
In the end she asked a NANNY who had two kids with her, if she would try to dress her kid. Even that choice seemed odd at the time but I know where she was coming from. You see as mums, we are ALL IN. our hearts, our souls, all of it. When our kid cries, even if we know it's nothing, it physically hurts us. And sometimes we just can't handle our own kids, right? We've all been there.
So when this lady could not help her son it broke her. In that moment I am sure she felt all those things we all feel from time to time: 'I am shit', 'I'm the worst mum ever', etc, etc. and I am sure that all she really needed was a cuddle and for someone to tell her it was okay and that she was doing a good job.
The nanny picked the boy up, calmed him down and dressed him despite the tears. She got on with it and soon all was forgotten. The mum took a few moments for herself. She left the room and came back with a big smile on her face. This is what mums do. We can be crying one minute all alone in a toilet cell and then we put on our brave face and return to what needs to be done. And I have no doubt she cried in that toilet for having to ask for help.
I asked her if she was okay and I was delighted to see that some of the other mums did the same. It felt good, like this is how it should be. None of those behind the back comments and backstabbing we do too often. This is sisterhood, women looking out for each other, and not judging each other.
The way I see t is that at the end of the day, each mum makes the choices she feels are the best for her family. We all make mistakes, even that mum who had so much to say about my choice to go back to work. Even she makes mistakes. Every day probably. But I hope that when that happens she doesn't have a whole bunch of people judging her for it. I hope no one calls her a bad mother when that happens. I hope she has someone in her life who tells her how wonderful she is and that she is doing an amazing job.
We all need to hear that more often.
So as I finish writing this little rant, I would like to ask you stunning mums (and dads) who read my blog -- please, PLEASE, enough with the mummy shaming, let's celebrate women, whether they are mothers or not and whatever their choices are. And most of all, let's bring back sisterhood.
I really miss it.
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