Friday, 30 August 2019

Don't Blame Mothers for the System

There’s a lot of talk about equality, feminism, female brain power and the fact that more women should be in managerial and even political positions. There is even free nursery care for babies set up as of some years ago in order to facilitate working motherhood.

What the country doesn’t have enough of, it seems, is compassion, understanding, and adequate mental care.

It is assumed the new mother will dump her baby at childcare all day long, put in her work hours and then return to a baby as well as maybe other kids needing love and attention and also to household chores.

Some mothers might have worked hard for their career and want to face that, then so be it. However I find that is rarely the case, is it? Having been myself a mother for over nine years now, I can assure you that child-rearing takes a whole lot out of you, and that is even under ‘normal’ circumstances and discounting other complications such as post-natal depression, sleep deprivation and single parenthood among others.

Add to this, even most mothers who do want to further their career would probably prefer to spend a few hours less at work if it were possible in order to bond with their children and see them grow.

So before I hear yet another complaint from people outside the situation blaming ‘mothers nowadays’ for neglecting their children in favour of a day at the office, or wherever ‘work’ may be, let me share with you a little secret: Mothers aren’t purposely leaving children behind to ‘catch up with their career’ or to impress or because they are selfish and want to maintain their previous lifestyle.

Rather, they would like to keep their job and their sanity too, even if it means reducing work hours and making a few sacrifices in the spending department. However, our country is not exactly family friendly most of the time.

I remember very specifically a particular new mother. She was a first time mother like me and we shared the post-natal ward together with our little angels. Hers was only a few hours old and already, her mind turned to work whilst talking to me. Why? Her job was on the line. There she was looking at her new baby and telling me her boss had been adamant that she either return to work full time at the end of what was then only fourteen weeks of maternity leave or she could forget her job.

But that was a few years back, you might argue. So let me talk about a more recent similar case. A friend of mine got a job, loved the company, wasn’t satisfied with her particular job. So she strived to get a better position, got the desired post and excelled at it. Then she got pregnant, gave birth, and returned to said post. Needless to say, it takes being in a situation to fully understand what you have gotten yourself into so she ultimately decided to advise management that although she wanted to stay on, she required reduced hours now that the baby was here. The reduced hours were granted without complaint, but with them came… guess what? A demotion back to the previous post.

Now how fair have both these employees been treated? Imagine if either of them had swotted away till around age twenty-two to get a degree, climbed her way to the top, only to be told she was being pushed off the top of the stairs simply for choosing to make time for motherhood!

So is it really the mothers that are cruelly choosing to pursue full-time careers and leaving motherhood as a side-line job? Or is it the system? I rather think we should be addressing the real cause.

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