Friday, 10 February 2017

The working mother

So last night I posted a video on Instagram regarding the fact that I have to justify my absence from work as my son was sick. I didn't want it to seem as if I was blaming my husband. The blame for the unequal care-sharing in couples doesn't come from the father it comes from the system. A system that doesn't work for working mothers (or main carers) or working fathers. For the last 10 years since we've had kids my husband and I have faced crisis after crisis of ill children and the problematic of work (having no family close by to help out). And despite my cries (and often actual tears) about how disastrous it would be for me not to go to work, being a university professor with over 80 students and over 10 different classes a week, taking just one day off was a logistical, stressful disaster. Despite my situation the answer would always be the same my husband working in Industrial sales would say... "I can't take the day off, work wouldn't understand, It would be looked upon negatively, It would be badly seen". This is not equality as much as I was forced to take a day off, he was forced not to. Despite his willing, society doesn't see him as the carer of kids, he must work and I must stay at home.

It seems like societies' excuse - well you wanted to work women, so now you're equal. But life is a bit more complicated than that. Women are supposed to perform as well as men (because we said we could) but we are still viewed as the sole care giver. This results in enormous amounts of pressure, stress, fatigue and guilt, as yes we can perform as well as or outperform men but we also need support. Yes we have wombs, but does make us less capable, worthwhile employees? NO! Intelligent, creative, interesting, strong and important members of the workforce are getting burnt because the system fails to support them, or to allow fathers to share the caring of children.

It fails to appreciate the value us mothers can give.

For me this is what happened after ten years of building my career it crashed around me - not work I kept up my professional responsibilities, but me physically me I was destroyed I had been balancing all these roles and I had NO time left, I was as the doctor said clinically "in burn out". I was exhausted, depressed and broken. I felt that i'd let down women-kind, that I had let down myself, that I was weak. What I realise now was that no one can do it alone and society didn't protect me or my family by allowing my husband to be the same as me an equal, a true partner and parent along by my side and I know I am not alone in this.

So I quit, it was my only answer rather than not achieve at anything, I would concentrate on my children they didn't decide to be born, they deserved better than being left at 8 in the morning and being picked up at 19h in the evening by a burnt out, frazzled shell of a mother.
I tried to play the system but the system failed me, the system wasn't flexible, so I was forced for my own welfare and that of my kids to remove myself from the workforce... (even though my students loved me, I loved my job, I was valued and needed by my colleagues...I had to walk away).

And now because I know I have something to give, I am returning to work, because I have spent time putting myself back together stronger(I hope!) to continue to fight to be able to work and be a mother.

I want my daughter to have the right to shine and excel in whatever she wants to do, let her talent come first and her gender come second. I want my son to want to, and be able to be an equal parent.
It's not easy but we need to keep talking, supporting each other and valuing each other for our individual merit. #weareoneandoneforall

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