I’ve never been one to become riled up easily, however there is one thing that has annoyed me more than pretty much anything else since becoming a mum. Being a self –certified ‘Facebook Junkie’, I’ve noticed this ‘thing’ more and more during my daily browsing, and each time I see it a silent scream races to leap out from my mouth. It is something that seems to have no purpose but to demean career minded women, and has little true meaning in its entirety. As a woman who has clear goals and holds them unashamedly, I can’t help but view this ‘thing’ as a personal attack on both myself and fellow women of my ilk.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, I’m talking about the façade also known as a ‘Full time Mummy’ (FTM).

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Over the past few months I’ve seen a number of articles chastising women for going out to work and leaving their kids in the care of others. Correct me if I’m wrong, but being a ‘full time mummy’ is a biological status, not a job title! Unless I’m missing something, once a child has decided to enter the world through you (in the most painful way possible), and leave you with the stretch marks to prove it, you most definitely qualify. But even this doesn’t have to be the case. There are those that have adopted, fostered, grandmothers, aunties, and the ones who have taken on the maternal role others have been unable to fulfill. Once you assume parental responsibility for a child, by definition you are a FTM, and that doesn’t stop by you going to work. Right?

 

Advocates for the FTM brigade would tell me that I’m mistaken, that unless you spend every minute God sends with your child, then you don’t have the right to identify with them. After speaking with a friend who sees nothing wrong with the FTM label, I was informed that mums who go out to work don’t experience the full strain of motherhood. She told me I couldn’t possibly comprehend the trials and torment of finding distractions to occupy your little ones whilst you constantly washing, cooking, and tidying up after them. For me, this illustrated the archetypal narrow-minded view of the reality of being a working mum. Receiving a monthly payslip doesn’t make you any less of a parent.

 

In actual fact, the only difference I can identify between a FTM and a working mum is the element of time. A working mum goes home to the same heaving washing pile a FTM contends with, the only contrast being the time frame within which each woman has to manage it. Whilst at work I had to be ready at any moment for the nursery phone-call asking me to pick my son up, or bring him medication, to the point where eyes would roll as soon as my phone rang. I’d cautiously ring my manager first thing in the morning, making apologies for my son’s fever and promising to make up the time. My evenings consisted of lumbering through the door, dropping our bags and heading straight to the kitchen, in hopes of finding some viable leftovers to warm for dinner. Usually this was in vain, and so I’d have to start from scratch to cook something halfway decent. Add into the mix I’d also be washing dishes from the previous evening whilst trying to prevent my son from climbing into the oven, so by bedtime I had less energy than a dead battery.

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Being a working mum meant other parts of my life suffered too, my relationship with my partner, social interaction with my friends, my house upkeep, in fact pretty much everything experienced repurcussions from my work. Weekends were for playing catch-up, and the to-do list was endless.

That’s not to say that once you are actually at work you can transform into a part-time mum for the 9-5. I found that there were constant reminders that I had children. Not being able to offer the flexibility of my colleagues and being overlooked for promotion because of it, unavoidable lateness due to morning tantrums, unpaid parental leave, it all added up.

 

But ladies (and gents), this is not a competition. I’m not trying to belittle any woman who does not work through choice or necessity. All I ask is for the same respect in return. The women I know who go to work do so for the most positive reasons, to keep a roof over their heads, and to better themselves in order to provide a better life for those to come. Working or not, we are all mothers who want the best for their children and we are free to achieve this in any way we see fit. There are enough barriers and misogynous social constructs out there for us women without us building more amongst ourselves.

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So work hard, play hard and love harder. Compliment your fellow woman. You’ll never know the difference it can make.

Published by Olivia May