Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Working mothers/working sisters.

I want you to read the following transcript. I made it after a heated phone conversation with my sister this morning... See if you can make heads or tails of it. Oh, and it is based on the fact that one of Etheline's co-workers called in sick today because her baby of nine months has a terrible fever and Etheline-who is engaged to be married and currently childless-can't get her fat head around it. There was much more to the conversation but that would take all day to type, so here, the main course.

Me: 'Well I think babies should be with their mothers for at least the first two years of their lives-if they can afford it. Poor little things, it's terrible plonking them in a creche when they're six months old, what's the point of having them if you see them for two hours a day. I think if a mother can afford it she should stay home with them until they're a little bit older.'

Etheline: 'You are a complete idiot, you must hate women or something, you want to go back to the fucking fifties, don't you? What do you know about it any way, Oh sure, they should stay home and fucking cook and clean and let the men do what they fucking like. Right, right?'

'Etheline I never-'
'Shut up. When I have my babies I'm going back to work the second my maternity is up.'
'Okay then.'
'Oh what now? Why are you saying that like that? You obviously don't approve.'
'Like you say, what would I know?'
'Exactly. I- hey, I know that ploy.'
'What ploy? I no ploy-ing anything, I just think it's better if women spend some time with their kids when they're tiny.'
'We had a stay at home fucking mother and look at the state of us.'
'She's not the best example. Look at Carly, she's staying at home with her babies and she's loving it.'
'Carly's an idiot.'
'Why? Because she wants to spend time with her children? Jesus Etheline, get a bloody grip. If you're so sure of rights, then surely her right to stay at home is important too.'
'Carly's husband is making enough money for her to swan around the house.'
'She's- she has two babies under three, she's hardly swanning. And that's what I fucking said, if they CAN AFFORD IT!'
'Yeah, but what about Carly's career?'
'She can always pick up where she left it when the kids are in school.'
'Oh fucking school. You've no idea Cat, the amount of work I have to do to cover for fucking mothers and their bloody 'emergencies.' "SORRY GOTTA PICK THE KIDS UP EARLY TODAY", yeah, right, what about my emergencies? Who can I blame?'
'What emergencies?'
'That's not the fucking point.'
'Look I know that too, but really what are you saying? Women who have kids shouldn't make them a priority?'
'Not if it effects my work and my time.
'So what are you saying then, they should just stay home with their kids and let non kid having people have their jobs?'
'No, I'm saying there should be no special preferences. So what, you have kids, deal with it.'
'Hum, tell me again how much you think I hate women.'
'I don't hate women.'
'Right, but you lose the plot if I say mothers should spend time with babies and then you lose the plot if mothers put their kids first, you don't hate women Etheline, you just hate mothers. Want to come over and lie on my couch? We can analyze why that is.'
'I-no I don't. Look I have to go, there are calls coming in here.'
And she hung up on me.

So, any clues?


Blogger Twenty Major said...

She's clearly on the blob.

11:08 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Are you trying to grow into that title bestowed upon you?

11:19 a.m.  
Blogger F said...

It'll change when she has children. Or not. Either way you're right. She hates women, or she's jealous of women who have children. Either way, bet she'll deny the conversation when she has her own.

11:26 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Oh to be sure Fiona, then it will be some other assualt on her personal reserve of things to gripe about. I don't think she is jealous mind, and I do see her point about covering for co-workers, although I'm not sure what a working mother can do in that situation.

11:45 a.m.  
Blogger finn said...

sounds like etheline doesn't know WTF she wants -- and you got the brunt of her frustration.

what gets on my tits at the office is when the breeders assume that the people who're single don't mind working long hours because "they've got nothing better to do."

FMC, if you were to stay at home with a child for two years, don't you think you'd go nutters??

2:17 p.m.  
Blogger Kim Ayres said...

Well I can't help but agree with your other commenters. Pregnant was my first thought, and then I thought she'll change her tune completely if/when she has kids of her own. Then she'll be really annoyed with all those smug women who don't have sick on their shoulders and idiots that park half up on the pavement so you can't get your pushchair past.

On the other hand maybe she's just found out she can't have kids. That could be enough to launch a tirade against all those who dare to flaunt their fertility by breeeding

2:20 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I don't know what I'd do Finn, really. I think if I did decide to have children then I would want them with me, not popped into a creche at six months. It makes me very sad to think of very small babies in a creche. I'm not knocking parents that must work due to financial pressure either, but surely if you make a choice to have children-and you can afford it- then one of your obligations is to raise them? No? Am I wrong?
On the other hand, when I worked with 'other people' there were some women who refused to work weekends, period, because they had children, but expected other people to cover them, as if our lives were not so important, and that's hardly fair either.

It's an emotive issue really. I have to say I don't particularly want children, not being the most maternal of women. But if the paramour and I got married and he did, then I wouldn't deny him that basic right. And if I did have them, like I already said, I would look after them, at least until they were old enough to go to school.

2:36 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

I have this friend with a one year old, who works 40 hours a week, and both she and her husband take responsibility for picking up the baby and spending time with it when it's out of daycare. Most of HER wages go to the daycare costs, which always prompts the question: well, why doesn't she just stay home then. Well...not as easy as all that, when you consider the insurance plan and other benefits she gets from working, not to mention being around other adults during her working days, and the child getting to be with other children while at daycare. Everyone is getting socialized within their age group, which I think is a good thing. They spend time with the baby in the evenings and weekends, and they each take a day off from time to time, to have a day with baby. But it's planned, so that no one has to take on their work for them.

But there are many, many ways to handle working with children. I don't know if I would resent having extra work piled on to accommodate a working mother...but I bet I'd get pretty fucking annoyed if it happened all the time.

Still...having said all that, I think your sister's out of her mind.

3:03 p.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

A very emotive issue indeed. I find kids of working mothers more independent and less clingy. A bit of healthy neglect seems to produce nicer kids. Or maybe the stay at home mums I meet are just so into living and competing madly within their kids lives that it makes the kids neurotic.

3:52 p.m.  
Blogger SheBah said...

BTW - I adore kids, plan to have at least four, and will continue to work if I can juggle it.

4:06 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I've seen both end of the spectrum I've got one friend who thrives on being at home, my eldest sister is also a stay at home mother and likes it just fine, but when her youngest starts at full time school next september she's looking forward to going back to work part time. Another friend of mine cries when she drops her little one off with her mother some days. So there you have it, Etheline my dear, damned if ya do damned is ya don't. You're correct Andraste, she's off her bloody head today. On the rampage for some reason. I've just come back from the gym and somehow I've managed to miss another two calls from her. I plan to miss plenty more before this evening is out.
Eeeeek four SB, that seems like a hand full. Try have them all around the same time, or one straight after another, my friend with the three kids says you might as well have three as have one. I'm sure she's off her head too- she didn't have an epidural on the last two because she says it takes so much longer to recover after- but she swears it is true.
Finn I'm coming over there to ask you questions about running.

5:32 p.m.  
Anonymous lauranen said...

Hehee, I had the exact conversation this time last year with my older sister when I'd found out that I was pregnant but hadn't told anyone yet :) "I'm definitely not staying home, that's degrading to women" and so forth. Look at me now, I just resigned from my job to stay at home with the baby indefinitely.

6:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you sister really understands what she's talking about. If or when she has kids she will definitely feel differently.

You're right, parents should put their children first, but that doesn't always mean staying home to look after them. I worked part-time until my son was two, because I knew I'd go mad if I stayed home with him. Having small children is VERY isolating, so a lot of people need the social contact of work. Others need the money. Personally I was no better off financially from working for the first few years.

As for childless people having to work harder, I must admit I've left people in the lurch sometimes, but that's down to priorities. I'm pretty sure no-one has ever resented me for pissing off out of work to go be mammy. My last parenting emergency involved my son vomiting all over himself in school. When you get a call like that, you just have to go. However I did have the decency to take a job which doesn't require me to work evenings or weekends, so the only thing that will get me out of work is his illness. It's all about balancing I guess.

6:50 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Welcome Laurenen, I hope your enjoying the new little one.
I know Miss Ann, I know, she's just ranting and raving today because she's fed up of this one woman, and it seems this lady is taking a bit of an advantage. It's one day after the bank holiday and she didn't turn up to work and called late to let Etheline know she wouldn't be in. This woman's kids are -according to Etheline- only ever sick on Fridays or Mondays.
I atually don't see Etheline ever having kids, she talks a good talk, but she's not maternal either and she likes her life the way it is, but I suppose people change or the biological clock starts or something.
I blame our mother, she spent most of our childhood bemoaning children and loudly complaining about the sacrfices she made to have us and so on. No wonder we're all stalling.

7:17 p.m.  
Anonymous eviltwinsister said...

I have to agree with you FMC, i don't understand why people have children if they are not prepared to actually care for them rather than throwing them in a creche for someboby else to mind. I know of one woman who has had her child in a creche since it was one, yet she herself doesn't work!! It doesn't make sense to me. I myself have no maternal feelings but feel that if I were to have children then they deserve 100% and if the family can afford it it is better for the children to be cared for by it's immediate family for those first years. I have nothing against working mothers but it's they way some people seem to have no time for, or spend little time with their children that annoys me. I know of a good few women who cried and cried for a baby only to moan and groan about the loss of independence/ freedom etc when the little bundle of joy arrived. On the other hand I also know women who haven't beeen happier since becoming a mother; my point being, that a lot of women (it seems to me ) don't actually sit down and think realistically about how a baby will change their life - forever- the idea of a baby doesn't match up to the reality of a baby. And of course it's the children who suffer. Shame

7:58 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I don't understand why anyone would put their baby in a creche if they don't work.
Every mother I know needs a break from time to time, my sister regularly arrives here with my nieces and nephew and says 'Here enjoy, I'm getting my hair done/going shopping/going for dinner.' And I'm always delighted to oblige. But I couldn't imagine having my sproglet in creche while I hang around my home.

8:14 p.m.  
Blogger John Mc said...

Hey FMC. Interesting topic.
I I have three kids, and all have spent time in daycare from when they were between six months and a year. Luckily my wife is self employed and works from home so we have flexibility in the hours that they spend in day care i.e they go in a little later and come home earlier. My older kids, 2 and 4, hate leaving their pre school it's way too much fun! . Andraste hit the nail on the head when she wrote, " Everyone is getting socialized within their age group". Every parent will tell you if their kids are in a caring safe environment with kids of a similar age, they develop much faster than at home and they learn valuable social skills. Agreed, infants are a different ball game, but infant hood lasts a very short time. Non parents often have the little tiny helpless baby image in their heads. They don't stay that way for very long. Kids very quickly develop into social beings
Only people who don't have kids tack to the extremes of "I'll never put them in day case" or "How could you not go back to work". (I certainly did and my mother ran a creche for 30 years so I should know better !). Most parents live in the vast gray area in between, and you simply cannot understand that until you have kids of your own. The change from no kids to having kids is so drastic as to be incomprehensible until it happens.... or ever! . Most people miss the point. Kids need routine to make them feel secure and loved. As long as parents spend quality time with them before and after school, and they are in a good loving engaging environment when they are away from their parents, they thrive. Of course it's not good if you leave your kid in daycare from 7:30am to 6pm and then ignore them at home while you catch up on work or whatever, but that is another extreme

Regarding parents vs non parents in the work environment. I have worked in technical and management positions in high tech in Silicon Valley for 13 years, not exactly an environment that forgives slaking off, and I can safely say the following opinion is shared by almost all managers I know:
Parents, (of any age), are more reliable than marrieds without kids or single people. They tend to need some flexibility and understanding but they tend to be much more focused in the hours that they are in work because they don't have the flexibility to piss around all day and then work late to catch up, AND they can't afford to do badly at work, they have too much on the line. More to the point show greater maturity and patience in dealing with customers and colleagues. Of course that is a generalisation to which I have seen many exceptions, but overall I find it to be true.

All that said. Your sister is nuts!

8:34 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Thanks John, good to have another parent on board for this. Everyone has very different opinions on it and I think you're probably right about it being a grey area. I guess parents just try muddle along as best they can-same as the rest of us.

9:16 p.m.  
Blogger Angie said...

I meant to comment earlier in the day and completely forgot --- being a working parent myself I'm one of those that would rarely have to leave to tend to a sick child. I can say tho no one has ever had to pick up my slack. And for those that claim they do, they are full of themselves if they think they are that important. Or that good.

If that was the case, they would have been promoted long ago. Seeing how they aren't, that tells you something huh?

I'm one of the lucky ones in that when my boys were younger, their dad worked swing shift so he did the day duty with them and I had evenings.

OT have I mentioned I'm really enjoying your blog. :)

4:34 a.m.  
Blogger LindyK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:13 a.m.  
Blogger LindyK said...

Having stay-at-home parents doesn't ensure that they're good parents, and therein lies the problem. You can be a fantastic parent and have your child in daycare for part of the day while you work, or you can be a shite parent and be at home with your kid all the livelong day...

6:15 a.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

Well I clearly missed the fun & games yesterday while I stayed home with my sick child eh? John Mc answered the whole post beautifully, there's not much I can say that would add to his message.

Except one quickie to Finn; calling people with children 'breeders' really doesn't help a rational discussion, it's insulting.

I stayed home yesterday, I had to, I was as sick as my son was, luckily my workmates are mostely parents as well so they understand that you can't do anything else, and they don't want you coming to work to spread whatever nastiness is in your house. I came in today to a pile on work on my desk, y'see there's nobody who can do what I do, I'm the only one here that does my job so when I miss work I have to catch up myself as well as do 24 extra loads of laundry full of pukey sheets and pooey clothes, deal with a child who won't let me put him down for 5 seconds, go puke myself a few times and rinse and repeat.

My life did change when I became a motherm, my priorities shifted profoundly, when I'm at work I work, excpet for right now when I'm having a coffee and browsing blogs, when I'm at home I Mammy, that's what I do, there's no time for anything else, no time to be me, but thems the breaks I understood that when I chose to have a child, what I didn't understand was the animosity some people have towards parents. To those people I ask you, who will be cleaning up your shit when you're old and incontinent? Who will be paying taxes to cover your medical needs? My child will that's who. Children, whether you like it or not are the future, my child, other peoples children are the adults who will govern your old age, parents like me are the people shaping these future adults, it's important work.

Rant mode off.

5:16 p.m.  
Blogger EmmaK said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:28 a.m.  
Blogger EmmaK said...

I think Etheline's right - people with kids do get special treatment from work. And people who don't have kids resent it.

I think working while you have small kids is very tricky. You are constantly in conflict. I certainly wouldn't be able to pull it off but admire those that do. I am at home with my two small kids, but when I go to the pre-school my five year old is at, which is also a daycare, you often see kids dropped off in the mornings with fevers etc. It is not fair to do this because it infects the other kids. On the other hand, often mothers have a lot of pressure to not take time off work to stay home with their kids when they get sick.

I can see both sides of the argument, and I don't think that a fair work/childcare mix exists for most of today's mothers.

1:30 a.m.  
Anonymous tawdreyaudreyy said...

I never had a choice. When I did my sums of being at home or working they just didn't add up. I had to work. I pay £500 sterling to look after 2 children 3 days a week while I teach. I get support(from family) one day and that is it. I think choice must be the voice of this arguement. I had none. But I do believe my position as carer and worker is sacred

2:44 a.m.  
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