|1950's Del Monte Ketchup Advert|
In that giant all-knowing child rearing manual that we are all given at the birth of our first child, selfishness is not one of the things they cover much is it? I mean parental selfishness. Obviously the kids are self-obsessed little bundles of desire. But once you’re a mother you are meant to become all selfless, suppress your needs, give up your own dreams and desires, live FOR your children - but not THROUGH them, that's BAD!
And how do you do that then?
After 3 years juggling a full-time job, I gave up working outside the family home when we had our second child. Mr Fox is a very involved parent, a GREAT dad, but I was the primary carer even with a full-time job. It was my career, being the one that contributed less to the family budget, that was always compromised by child care needs, last minute chaos, illness and the like. Mr Fox was quite happy to let me take the lead, as if through divine maternal knowledge I knew something he didn’t know when it came to raising a child.
There was no pressure to give up work from Mr Fox, or anyone else. Although the Old Man has since admitted to liking it. He has to be the least macho man you could come across, but he said that he likes knowing the kids and I are at home and safe while he's out there providing. Far be it for me to rain on his parade.
I try to run a small business with my best friend, the other Mrs Fox. We work from home and the business has to fit around our families. Someone asked me if it was a “hobby” the other day. And it made me think.
Is Mrs Fox's just me indulging my need to feel as if I am working?
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being at home. I liked my job, but I like this more. It's not that I'm terribly domestic in the traditional sense. I'm not house-proud, though I love my home. I clean as little as possible and find much of the mundane stuff frankly boring. I parent by trial and error, with errors probably winning on the score sheet of parenting. I most miss the adult company of a working life, but love to watch the kids growing and changing, that much used phrase; "the time passes so quickly" is so true with children.
Being at home is often harder, but infinitely more satisfying than my career was. I had good jobs; ones that other people probably thought were more exciting/interesting than they actually were, and good enough that I don't fancy doing jobs I hate, just so I can say that I'm a working mum. I ended my career a little disillusioned and ready to explore a new path in life.
Which I guess also reveals that Mr Fox's earnings are enough to support the family on a single income, while I follow this new path. And you have to factor in childcare costs, I am a pretty frugal housewife, there are fringe benefits to the re-cycling and vintage aesthetic.
Staying at home releases me from that need for butt clenching organisation, the military precision of the household with both parents working. I have IMMENSE admiration for the parents that pull that one off. But, I confess I cannot do it without feeling stressed beyond belief. And that is the reason in a nutshell, so complex but so not, I decided to stay at home - because going to work made me unhappy.
Deciding to stay at home and look after the kids was a selfish decision. While there are benefits for our whole family, I think I benefit most. I feel as if I should feel guilty. I’ve let the side down, the Women’s side I mean. But, wasn’t feminism all about giving women choices? My choice seems to be to become a bad 1950’s housewife that hates to clean and shouts at her children.
I just chucked the last of my personal savings into the (joint bank account) pot for the deposit on our new house. I am now in my 40‘s living in Hertfordshire, not working (and haven’t been for 5 years), entirely financially dependent on my husband. I sound like a 50’s housewife and yet I feel like a selfish little kid. And this blog is part of that selfishness, I want to record the new home we are going to build, the family life and the fun it entails. I'm looking forward to choosing tiles, raising bees and chickens, going to village events, digging the garden, growing and making food.
I've decided to accept my selfishness, get over the guilt and embrace the 1950's housewife in me. Still don't intend to do any more bloody cleaning tho!