Women face a big enough struggle for equality without facing discrimination from their ‘sisters’. The global campaign for gender parity includes respecting and valuing difference; after all, the world would be a very boring place if we were all a bunch of Stepford Wives!
There is a segment of society, committed stay-at-home mums, who vilify working mothers for not putting their families first. Likewise, there are professional women [with children] who scorn the stay-at-home mum using terms such as Earth Mother or Yummy Mummy as if they were dirty words.
The truth of the matter is that women make these parental choices for a whole raft of reasons: it may be financially motivated, it may be a simple case of emotional survival or that career pressure leaves them no option.
You can rest assured that neither set of women escape feelings of guilt. Guilt that they are not spending enough quality time with their children versus guilt that they are not able to indulge their children with the luxuries a working mother might, and unless you have walked in their shoes you should not judge them.
Who amongst us has the right to say which is the better or correct path? Whichever path an individual chooses – and let’s not forget that there often is no alternative – they have the right to make that decision without fear of condemnation from others, male or female.
Last summer I met a lady who had recently taken the plunge and given up her secure university post to not only start her own business, but to do this in a new country too. Like me this woman was in her fifties, and like me she was appalled at the idea that she could end her working life facing the same dreary commute, the same staff room politics, the same work-life struggles that she had endured for decades.
I started out with such high aspirations – no rat race for me, my life was going to be different. This notion doesn’t make me special: for us baby boomers this was going to be our time, coming of age in a post flower-power world, the sixties behind us and glam rock and punk beckoning.
I vividly remember the pride I felt to be part of a generation that created Live Aid, which as it happens was on my son’s first birthday and I can still see him wearing nothing but a nappy as he rocked out to Queen and David Bowie in front of our tiny black and white TV. It seems fitting therefore that this blog launches in a month that saw Bowie (that master of reinvention who provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives) take his final curtain call.
Yet somehow here I am hurtling towards my own golden years with the realisation that resist as I might, the rat race got me – life has this habit of getting in the way for the best of us – but with the absolute conviction that it is not too late! Like my new friend, I can embrace change, chuck in the soul-destroying monotony and take control of my future. This blog is one small step on that journey…