Isn't it enough to "just" be a mum

Posted Friday 23rd November 2012   By Ericka Waller

So I got invited onto the Lorraine show on ITV this week to talk about being a stay at home mum. A woman had written an article warning mums to get back to work as soon as they could, so they did not end up sad and unfulfilled as she has...

I was asked to give my opinion on an article written by Elizabeth Mcfarlane. In it, she suggests that staying at home is “frankly, boring” and that mums should get back to work as soon as possible so they don’t end up “unfulfilled” as she has.

I’ll be honest, it got right up my nose. Maybe she found staying at home unfulfilling, but that does not mean we all do/will. Staying at home is as unfulfilling as you make it, surely?

I tried to say as much, but it was hard to get a word in edgeways. I mentioned that mums are under enough pressure as it is.

I mentioned that when I tried to go back to work after having Thing-one, I was swiftly and sharply made redundant, along with all other part-time mums. I said how I found this a relief as it meant I could “just” be a mum.

What a shame that for some people “just” being a mum is no longer enough. People used to ask “Do you work” and “No, I am at home with my children” was enough of an answer. This is no longer the case.  Now they ask “Haven’t you at least started up your own business selling organic hand-made bibs or amber teething necklaces for left-handed breastfed babies?”
“NO? (APPALLED GASP) “You mean, you are just a mum, nothing else?”

Seems so. Sorry about that.

What with articles suggesting maternity leave could be a great opportunity to boost your income, and mums like my mate Liz (the one I was on TV with, not her Royal Highness) saying that if you don’t get back to work ASAP you will regret it, is it any wonder that more and more women are suffering from pre-natal depression?

Can’t we all just take a step back? Why is it so wrong to want to focus all your energy on your children and worry about the future, in the future?

I know that for some people going back to work is not a choice. And yes, it would be nice if we could “keep a hand in” our careers while we are at home, but it’s not always that simple, and almost impossible to balance. I am at home with my children all day, and I still go to bed thinking like Oscar Schindler (“I could have done more”.)

I fully intend to have a career again one day (probably not in TV), but I’m not going to spend the next five years worrying about it. Who knows where we will be in five years?

I’m going to spend the next five years finger-painting and going to playgroups in my pyjamas. And that is what I would have said to Liz, if she’d given me the time to do so.