I read an article in The Guardian Online today called “Are You A Dummy Mummy” which was nearly enough to prevent me from reading it in the first place because of course the answer to that question is DUH
However, I do vaguely recall that if you put a string of alphabets (as Four calls them) together, they make words, and those in turn make sentences and enough of those in sequence might make up something intelligible.
Rachel Cooke, who is the 39 year old childless-by-choice author of this somewhat dubious piece of op-ed, rambled over a good few of her own personal prejudices (some more risible than others) but ultimately the people who came under the hammer with the harshest judgement are women who have chosen to focus primarily on child rearing (her personal friends carefully excluded).
Her main beef, apart from the fact that she finds these women excruciatingly boring, was the premise that these mothers are somehow single-handedly responsible for the downfall of feminism and society’s retrenchment to the 1950’s because they want to focus on their family rather than trying to juggle it with a job.
That’s funny. I am around the same age as her and would consider myself a card carrying feminist, but I was under the impression that it was all about choice for women, not an obligation to go back to work as soon as possible so as not to let the side down.
She’s free to choose to stay child-free, stay at her job, read lots of books (I am so very curious as to know what she regards as a great read), watch lots of films and continue to feel superior to those people who have been taken by surprise by the usurpment of their lives by small personages.
And women who want to stay at home and nurture their infants and toddlers (I note no mention of Dummy Daddies though I know loads of blokes who love a good chat about nap routines) are also free to do so, and if they want to chat online about how cute their toddler is, so fucking what? Is it really any less edifying than a bunch of middle aged people talking about Slumdog Millionaire?
She particularly focuses on the older, middle-class affluent SAHM mother as a point of dislike and contempt and it’s pretty obvious, whatever her protests (and there are many, too many) that these are women from her precise social demographic – just like her, only with really small kids who are currently in the baby and toddler all-consuming stage of parenthood.
It must be disconcerting and somewhat painful to realise that you are being slowly left behind, even if it is your choice to be left there.
What she must sense, but can never truly understand is that there exists a club that she will never belong to. It’s the club that levels the playing field in a way that politics and policies never will. It transcends all nationalities, religions, races, ages, political persuasions, parenting styles, menu selections and zip codes.
Membership requirement: Child.
Dues: Love helplessly for the rest of your life
She is, of course, perfectly free not to join. I do not judge her for her choice of lifestyle.
I can see that it’s too much to ask that she not judge any of us for ours. Tolerance is not something that improves with age, I note, unless (choke, gasp, snigger) you are forced into it by having a child.
One last point, though, that will console Rachel in her rage: She did mention, somewhat heroically, that she did not mind taking on more workload than those with children in the workplace (even as she said she would not list the ways that this happens.)
It will be our kids who are paying for and delivering her meals on wheels when she’s too decrepit to look after herself in lonely old age, so there’s some kind of karma there, isn’t there?