Written in January 2010
Yesterday I wrote about one parent staying at home with the children and how that can help save money. Today I want to write about what often come up when that topic is featured - the lack of support for both SAHMs and working mums, or dads.
When I and my children were much younger, I worked. I was very fortunate in that I could always work from home as a writer. Hanno built an office at home and I would work there as a journalist, and alongside another women who I paid, we produced the town's newspaper and did various other writing jobs. I would start work early, then stop to make Hanno's breakfast and wake the kids for school. I'd do my housework, then return to work when the kids went off to school. They walked there, it was in the next street. I stopped work when they came home for lunch and we'd have lunch together, then worked again. I know I was a very lucky woman to have that working situation and I know it's not like that for most working women.
I am very rarely in groups of women where this subject is talked about but I've seen it featured on TV and it's usually portrayed in a very negative way. It's SAHMs versus working women, like it's a battle over who has the high ground. No one has the high ground, most of us are just doing what we have to do to get by. At that time, I had friends who worked and most of the time, they had to work. I also had friends who were SAHMs who wanted to work but couldn't find a job, as well as friends who were working who wanted to be at home.
You can never be sure of anyone else's circumstances. What looks black and white, often is not. None of us should stand in judgement and say what others are doing is wrong. What I would like to see is a return to the way women supported each other as I was growing up. In those days we all encouraged each other, we supported our friends and other women in their choices and if we could help them, we did.
Raising children is not an isolated process, our children grow not only within their family but also within their neighbourhood. They will come across all manner of people, some will be like us, some won't be, but being tolerant of the beliefs of others, makes the neighbourhood stronger and more resilient. It shows young children that not everyone is the same, or like us, but they're still good people. That builds confidence and children feel they can rely on the people they are growing up alongside - it makes them feel secure.
Life is not about possessions - it's about living and finding pleasure and goodness in our days. All of us can do that without demeaning the choices others make. I hope the next time you have the opportunity to join in a conversation where you could criticise, you'll decide against it. I hope we all move closer to support and encouragement rather than closer to disapproval and judgment. I hope that all of us together show our friends that there is no one right way. We all have to choose what is right for our family situation. Life is tough enough without having people in our family or neighbourhood criticise our choices. Living a more simple life isn't just about the practicalities of life, it is also about raising a fine family and building a community you feel proud to be a part of. This is one small step towards that.