The Great Mother/Non-Mother Divide...and Pyjamas

So someone took offence to this post.  That's fine but I have a few things to say here, because it irks me...irritates me to quote said reader.

I am not a mother. My mother is eager for some more grandkids, but I have other priorities in my life right now. Some of my best friends are parents and I think it is a wonderful thing. Truly beautiful. But...being a mother does not somehow make you better than me. If you are like this, then you are to quote the reader's description of me, superior, snotty and judgemental. I posted this entry because of women like this, who think that populating one's uterus is the key to all understanding. One day, God willing, I will be a mother and I hope to not be like this.

I do not appreciate women like this, who think that their problems are better or worse than a woman with no children. I make no apologies for loving fashion and fabulousity, for wanting to travel and enjoy all that life has to offer. Am I rich? No. Am I spoilt? Hardly. But just as some women love craft, cooking, writing etc, I also have my interests.

My parents, who did not have all the opportunities in the world that my brother and I had, worked hard and raised us so that we would be able to access all these things. My father especially wanted me to be able to access these things without falling into the dependency trap. I had the gift of having the main man ...MAN...in my life tell me that he wanted me to have access to education so I would never have to depend on a man for anything.

I went without a lot to get a lot - I am paying for my Masters degree - tuition of over 11,000quid - out of pocket. Add living expenses, in a very expensive city, and it's a big chunk of my savings - savings I accumulated over the years not from being spoilt or born with some kinda golden spoon, but from doing without. I did without a lot of things. I love fashion, yes, but I don't own a single item of clothing that has an expensive label on it. I buy shoes at Payless, and guess what? I am still frickin' awesome! If you don't think you're awesome enough to pull on a pair of jeans and a clean shirt to go out in public, more power to you.

I live a poor student's life at the moment, in a country that is not mine, away from everything I know and love. I joke about these things because being a bitch about it will get me nowhere and I chose this, just as I am sure you chose to be a mum.

I joke about not being able to afford cheese or buying eggs or sausages on offer. It's hilarious to me how long it takes me to decide whether I will splurge on frickin' sausages. I joke about the 3-4 days I sometimes go, without sleep, so I can finish assignments and do well. I joke about sitting in my room during the day in winter without the heater on because I am mindful that I am living in my cousin's house rent-free and heating is expensive. I joke and gripe about the weather in the UK, where I have been sick and in bed more times than I have been in the rest of my life combined. I have medical issues I don't mention cause that is not really anyone's business. I have commitments and frustrations like anyone else. Before I left my job, my days started at 3.30 every morning and ended at 10, 11 at night. I did this EVERY DAY!!! To get to work on time, to face the music for 8, sometimes 12, sometimes 14 hours.

So don't think because I don't have sick kids or shitty diapers to wash, that my life is perfect and moving along swimmingly. As Trinis would say, yuh farse and bright! I get depressed sometimes but only sometimes because guess what - someone else has it worse than I do. Much worse. I have great friends, great, amazing family and a damn good life. Should I apologise for this?

And because you have a child, like the millions of other women on the planet, somehow you are better than me or your issues more important than mine? I don't think so.

Let me just add something else here - my mother had 2 kids. My parents were both public servants in Trinidad, which means we were not rich. My brother and I got sick like other kids. We had things we wanted and needed like other kids. They had to find money to get these things. And yet, my mother was and is the most beautiful woman I know. She had a very demanding full time job, 2 kids, a house to run, a husband to look after (you know these husbands are the other child in the brood), always had dinner on the table even after a hard day at work, and yet, she was always beautiful. Sometimes she would have to do without so we would have but she was always sharp, well put together and a queen. I never saw my mother leave the house looking less than she was. So lady with a problem, if I think leaving the house without having a shower, walking through the supermarket at 5.30 in the afternoon in your bathrobe is annoying, it is because I saw even with all her frustrations, my mother always looking like class. She could not always go to the hairdresser - I soon learnt the art of applying relaxer to her hair. She could not always buy a new outfit. But she was always taking a moment for herself and keeping herself looking presentable.

My friend who has kids, posted this in response to my question regarding your opinion:
when the babies come, time gets ridulously short. those leisurely hours at the hairdresser, getting mani/pedis simply no longer exist. you get so wrapped up in your role it is easy to let it slip because nothing matters more to you than the... baby at that time. BUT that is all the more reason why you need to take time out and take care of yourself. Its an easy trap to fall in but you have to make yourself a priority too.
I agree that it is too easy a trap to fall into and too easy an excuse to use all the time. My girlfriends have kids. None were privileged, some of them are single mothers and still, they manage to show that being a mother - single or otherwise - does not preclude you from being fabulous. And being fabulous does not mean expensive clothes, heels or makeup. Please read my posts properly before making comments. I go out in jeans and baby tees most of the time but I still think I am the cat's meow. All women, mothers or not, need to make time for themselves.

I am not saying there are not times when mothers will jump out of bed to run out the door, to do whatever - but to use that as an excuse for all eternity is a cop out. If you describe your life as a mess, then maybe it will be a mess. That's the trap my friend is talking about and you have clearly fallen in it. There are so many other mommy bloggers out there, and I am sure they will also agree with you, and don't get me wrong, I know it is the truth. But don't use that as an excuse to get away from having some love for yourself either. Me time, for anybody, is vital. So if I don't agree with you that life is a mess, I am sorry. I prefer to aim higher, despite its challenges.

I imagine motherhood is both rewarding and challenging. So is the rest of life and we non-mums live it as well. Just remember that.

15 comments:

  1. I think you just expressed how I feel most of the time. Power to you. We all have problems kids or not.

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  2. You know, I agree with you. And I just might have to go on and post about this topic myself. Well done.

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  3. Sad when someone gets high and mighty giving all women a bad name. Who cares what that person says, you are doing what's right for you and the blog is your sound board. Some people are pretty pathetic.

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  4. I'm wondering where the time in my childless life for leisurely manis/pedis has been? I feel a lot of the same frustration as you. My work and my volunteerism are my baby. Just during this past week it's kept me up for 36 hours straight, prevented me from enjoying a real meal, interfered with my social life, yelled at me, cried to me (and made me cry), demanded my constant careful attention and caused profound clutter and chaos in my house. And, unfortunately, my job doesn't look to me adoringly from time to time and call me Mommy. I'm sure there are child-free women in this world who enjoy bon-bons and lounge by the pool with martinis, but it's a poor assumption that we're all that way, that life is easy for us. Kudos to you for standing up against this stereotype!

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  5. My friend who gave the soundbite in the entry also gave this stellar comment. Oh Gosh..it so good I wanna eat it.


    "ok, having read the blog post I have to say this. If you go out to the supermarket in pjs, it has nothing to do with your children. leave them out of this. you are the same person pre and post baby. it might be harder to do some of the stuff you used to do but hell, you will maintain your standards as best as possible.

    my point it, if looking decent (not like a runway model), just decent is important to you then you will keep it that way after having a baby."

    THANK YOU LADIES. You are the inspiration for fab mums-to-be everywhere.

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  6. Avi another superb post!! You have so well mentioned the hardships of a working woman. Certain things I realised only after coming here and managing so many things. The familiar thought - Gosh how did my mom manage this with job !. Must admit you have inspired me to develop my blog. Thanks a lot!!

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  7. great job, aviane. we, as mothers, do fall into the time trap sometimes. however there are limits to everything. i am not a 'make-up' person and usually the jeans and tee type. that does not mean i am going to the supermarket in pjs. i am also disgusted by the way some people dress to go to the malls. even if it is 'in your backyard', put on proper clothes!!

    power to you, i hope it helps some.

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  8. I'm a mom. I would NEVER EVER go to the supermarket in pajamas. Or not groomed. Didn't everyone Mama teach them too look presentable at all times? Sort of like the " don't go out in holey underwear" because you never know who might see?? It's just good grooming habits. And what are u teaching your kids if you go out without bathing and looking like you just rolled out of bed??

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  9. She is not Trini is she? My mother would never let me leave the house looking haphazard. It reflects badly on you. But then I think if it was a Trini, she would not have chance to write a post about loving to go to the grocery in PJs. She would be laughed out of town! That is seriously bordering on the ridiculous. Just thank God you don't have to see her in her funky pyjamas.

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  10. I don't think women should use their children as an excuse to look a hot damn mess in public. I'm a mother and I never go out of the house looking ragedy. Its just not something I do.

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  11. I definitely agree with you. No matter how many kids you've got or what's going on in your life, everyone can spare ten minutes to make themselves presentable.

    Even me. I just have to start getting up on time for work...

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  12. You defend your point well. :-)

    I really enjoy your blog and have awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award. Please stop by and pick up your award button. I hope you’ll also grab my button and Chase Joy with me. http://www.chasing-joy.com/2011/07/feel-good-friday-versatile-blogger.html

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  13. My grandmother had 12 kids, that's right 12! Yet stressed and overworked as she was, she never went out of her house looking like a vagabond or like she just rolled out of bed. It's a poor and shameful excuse some people use to blame their appearance and laziness on their innocent kids.

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  14. Oh gosh Avi...I reading this and is like you were reading my mind...I know exactly what you talking about. My mother was a public servant and my father was a preacher...and despite what people think the pastor don't get all the money from the collection plate...and even if he did most time is only dollar and coin in there. They emphasized the importance of education and that would be our ticket to enjoying greater opportunities than they did...I love nice clothes too but I cherish my Payless coupons like a fat kid with a ice cream cone... I can't be thinking about what I don't have I have to think about what I am working towards...I can't tell you how much I love your blog.

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  15. Hear, hear, Avi.
    No matter how hectic it gets whether single/married/kids/no kids JUST DO YOU!! If/when married life with or without kids come you will have many interesting stories to tell and to experience with your extended family, whilst LOOKING HOT and hearing "You have kids, you don't look it at all."

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