My Father in Law thinks I should get a job. Any job. As long as I am contributing to the family income and not staying at home for an easy ride.
My Father in Law thinks that if a career doesn’t come with a salary and a pension it isn’t worth having.
My Father in Law told me that women who stay at home with their children are lazy. That there is nothing to looking after babies and what on earth did I find to do with myself all day? He says perhaps I could go to work when Finley is in bed.
My Father in Law is in deep deep trouble with me.
There is a teeny part of me- the part that doesn’t want to string him up– that says he is right: that as a modern women, a women who demands equality in all other areas of her life, I should be making an equal contribution to the family income: that staying at home with my Finley is an indulgence we can ill afford…
And then I remember. I remember how it feels to lift my son out of his cot after his afternoon nap. How warm and sweaty his little head is as he try's to remember where he is, and looks wide eyed at me for the reassurance only a parent can provide. I remember showing him how to use a fork and nearly screaming with sheer utter pride as a piece of carrot cake made its wibbly wobbily way into his mouth. I remember how long it takes to walk hand in hand round to the post office less than two minutes away: how much patience it requires to walk bent backed to reach his little hand, taking time to stare at every new puddle, stone and leaf along the way. I remember why I always want to be there to give him his milk at bedtime when his wet curls press on my face and halfway through he puts his bottle down to kiss his mommy before we go hunting for the bear who shares his dreams. I remember all of this and I know why I am at home.
But this is about personal choice. We could all talk forever about the social implications of Mothers caring for young children. We understand, acknowledge and empathise with women who do not have the luxury of choosing to stay at home. But if we can, we do, and we should never be asked to justify our decision either way.
The fact is Finley isn’t going to be this little forever. I want to be around to show him everything that was wonderful about my own childhood: to make all the sacrifices my Mother made for me and to understand the difference it made to who I am today.
I believe my Father in Law should see it the same way.