The value of motherhood

When it comes to writing any kind of scheduled editorial – be it a magazine, or even a blog – it helps if your content is both timely and relevant. And with this particular scheduled editorial falling between International Women’s Day (yesterday, 8th March) and Mothering Sunday here in the UK (next Sunday, 15th March), what else could I write about but women?

Much of what I’ve read in support of International Women’s Day this year seems to fall into two camps: 1) to promote empowerment in young women (such as the #DearMe campaign) and 2) to maintain the traction of the pay parity argument by celebrating the successes of working women. While I totally applaud both of these strategies (as a feminist of course I want to promote strength in women and believe that our gender should get equal pay for equal work), I can’t help but feel that we have been missing a trick in terms of celebrating women as mothers.

Although Patricia Arquette’s Oscar’s speech became newsworthy the moment she uttered the impassioned words “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen…”, the ‘pay equality’ message completely overshadowed the celebration of motherhood that she began with. With this in mind it’s no surprise that the new minority (the stay-at-home-mum) was not recognised by the International Women’s Day commemorations.

All of this, along with the ‘to work or not to work’ debate got me thinking about how we measure success as women:

  • Am I successful only if I am a career woman or employed in a paid job?
  • Does the stay-at-home-mum’s ability to nurture, protect, love and educate the next generation so that they can go on to contribute positively to our global community not constitute success?

After many years of being a working mother, I chose to stay-at-home because it was best for my family. I don’t apologise for it and I don’t think it makes me any more or less valuable than any other woman on the planet. And the fact that this status is something that I chose rather than had imposed on me isn’t lost on me either. But I worry that while we are busy fighting for choice, challenging discrimination, empowering our daughters and educating our sons to accept gender equality, we are losing sight of the value of motherhood, surely one of the fundamental experiences of being a woman.

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2 thoughts on “The value of motherhood

  1. timeforparenting says:

    Absolutely thank you for that – much appreciated. 🙂 Our group stands up for mothers at the time in life when they are caring for family (and we don’t see it as either/or or working women versus women at home – it’s often the SAME women at different points in the family life cycle) . It’s a privilege – it’s an honour – it’s fun. We’re all equal. Equality is about far more than paid work status. It’s about valuing other human beings in all their valuable roles. Thanks for this piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sally Littlefair says:

      I’m really pleased that my musings resonated! It’s great that groups such as yours exist – women (or men for that matter) shouldn’t feel inferior because they have chosen to take time out of work to care for their family. Nor should they have to justify themselves for their choice – the number of times that I’ve been asked “what do you do all day?” beggars belief.

      I hope that employers begin to appreciate the effort, skill and sacrifice it takes to be a stay-at-home parent so that when the time is right for us to return to work, we are not penalised for the ‘gap’ in our CVs.

      Like

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