I read your latest piece, called “Don’t let your career make you a bad mother“.
Firstly, I’m sorry to hear that your friend passed away. You say her children spoke at her funeral about what a great mother she was. I think this is to be expected, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what you do when your mum passes away. You speak of how you saw her, as a mother first, regardless of her career. That’s what I did, when my Mum passed.
Defined by her career.
Your friend was also a doctor, as well as a mother. Of course, at her funeral, you’d see she was defined there not primarily by her career but by her family. I’m guessing that her patients were not invited to speak at the funeral or perhaps you’d have left with a different impression. Not that her career defined her but that she was a woman who had both; a family and a career.
From the few words you’ve devoted to your friend in this column, I can see that her children impressed upon you that she was a great mum. You also describe her as “a doctor of great skill and dedication”. Whether or not you’ve intended to, you’ve also defined her by her career. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. As a doctor, she’d have devoted thousands of dollars and many years to study. She’d have worked long hours under enormous pressures. Doctors can and do hold lives in their hands. Their skill, knowledge and dedication have saved countless lives and it’s likely your friend did exactly that. It’d almost be a disservice not to mention your friend’s profession; I have no doubt that being a doctor is a career that forms a big part of who you are.
That’s an insight worth remembering, Miranda.
A career doesn’t make you a bad parent.
Women can and should follow their passions, much like your friend would have pursued medicine. Or even like you pursued journalism. It doesn’t mean they’re bad parents.
It wasn’t that long ago that you decided that welfare payments were partly to blame for domestic violence (a leap of logic that baffled many) but think about it. If women don’t have careers of their own, are they not more likely to end up on welfare? You wouldn’t want women to end up in that cycle, based on your advice, would you? The other (actual) reason for women to have careers is a simple one. We should be able to support ourselves and our families, whatever shape they take. We never know what life will throw at us. Repeat after me, Miranda: A man is not a financial plan!
Some family units don’t have a father, through circumstance or design. It’s ridiculous to avoid having a career based on gender. Having a career doesn’t make women bad parents, as evidenced by your friend. In fact, some families thrive when mum has the career and dad takes on more of the caring role. Isn’t it great that it is more accepted now for men to be active parents? You can thank the so-called “feminist warriors” for that.
What about the men?!
Perhaps that’s because they’re on the right side of the gender wage gap? I don’t know if you’re aware, but the subsidies on childcare aren’t aimed at women alone to entice them into the workforce. They are aimed at families, to allow them to survive, financially.
I don’t know anyone in my circle of close friends who can afford to live off one income, even if they wanted to. The cost of living is bloody high. Housing prices (both for buyers and renters) alone are through the roof. Australian cities are among the most expensive places to live in the world.
Career means an “occupation that takes up a significant portion of a person’s life with the opportunity for progression”.
It turns out, by that definition, that I actually have a career. Who knew?
Miranda, you refer to surveys showing that stay at home mums are happier than those working. I looked up the one you mentioned, by LV, a British insurance company. They surveyed just over 3000 people on their happiness and stay at home parents came in at 87.2% in the happiness ratings. Less than a percentage point away from that? People who work in hospitality and event management at 86.3%. It’s entirely possible to be working, a parent and happy. One of the happiest parts, for me, is being able to afford to live. Not something we could do on one wage.
Even if we could live well on one wage, I’d still choose to work. I’m not going to list the reasons why, because I don’t have to. It isn’t the 1950s any more. It’s 2017; this may come as a shock but women– even women with children– can work if they choose to.
The rest of your column is interesting. You take a swipe at older mums who use IVF, saying they’ve been “fooled” into thinking IVF can “beat nature’s clock”. The fact is, IVF can help older women conceive. It becomes less likely as woman age but it is still more likely with IVF than without. I would also hazard a guess that women in, say, their forties seeking to conceive via IVF will be pretty well-read on the subject before they decide to try it. Why would you assume they’ve been fooled? I’d say it’s much more likely, these days, that women are making informed decisions.
You also hit on inclusive language guidelines you say is to be used by doctors in Britain. This isn’t actually the case; the guidelines are for the promotion of an inclusive workplace for staff at the British Medical Association. Not directed at doctors in their dealings with patients. I guess you don’t know or care much about transgender issues, which is disappointing with so much information available, but also, unsurprising.
Then there’s the bit about us “mum bloggers” encouraging women to stop putting everyone else first. As a “mum blogger” and a “mum with a career”, here’s my official thoughts on that:
Mums, there will be times when you must put the needs of others above yours. Hundreds of them. When you have a chance to put yourself first with no harm done to anyone, take it. Remember that you are you first, before you are someone’s mum. You must take care of you to allow you to keep taking care of others, whether it’s a home or work situation.
Sorry, (not sorry), Miranda, I’m sure you’ll disagree.
Then you take aim at Bad Moms, saying it “celebrates selfishness”. Maybe it does! What has that got to do with anything? It’s a comedy movie not an in-depth look at the lived experiences of mothers. That’s like referencing Kindergarten Cop as evidence that men aren’t naturally good with kids.
Your latest column? Not helpful. Short-sighted, narrow minded and written from the point of view of a very privileged woman. A woman who is, ironically, very well-known for her career in political journalism, writing opinion pieces and even hosting her own radio show. I’m sure that when you pass away one day, your sons will remember you for the mother you were to them. You must know that, to the public, your legacy will also be in your work. I hope you consider making it a good one.