Tuesday, 10 May 2011
What They Say
When mothers ask me if I've gone back to work and I shake my head and mumble something about being a 'housewife' this is what they say:
"That must be lovely if you can afford it" and "I didn't have the choice."
And every time they say it I nod understandingly whilst feeling my smile stiffen ever so slightly and my soul start to squirm. I mutter some platitude about it being right thing 'for me', and I leave feeling pompous and privileged, indulged and slightly indignant.
Because to describe mothering as simply 'lovely' is not to tell the whole truth. It's to focus on the romance of the role and ignore the relentlessness, the loneliness, the thanklessness and the mind-numbing monotony of the job.
It's to see a mother out walking quietly with her child and forget that she's done it every day that week and will probably do it again tomorrow, and it's to look at long empty days with envy without stopping to wonder what it must be like to have an endless expanse of emptiness to fill.
Yes, it's a luxury that I can afford, and I'm forever mindful of and grateful for that fact.
But it's a luxury that I can afford because of the lifestyle that I've chosen and the sacrifices that I make, and it was a choice that I made knowing that our house would always be smaller, our clothes would always be shabbier, our holidays would always be more local and our choices would always be more limited than those of some of my friends.
We all have the choice to a greater or lesser extent and I'm incredibly happy with mine; except when mothers ask me about it and I'm suddenly made to feel spoilt.