Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Modern Mother

If the modern mother suffers from anything, it is from low self-esteem. It is from the false idea that what she does in the home and for her children can be replicated in a child-care facility by a paid child-care worker; that the work she is trained for outside of the home is somehow far more important and a role in which she cannot be replaced.

The modern mother suffers from low self-esteem because for decades now she has been told that wiping noses, changing nappies and cooking meals are menial tasks that can be accomplished by anybody and are of so little value as to be almost meaningless.

Terms like ‘working mother’ and ‘working family’ have become synonymous with daycare. And the phrase ‘stay-at-home-mum’ is, for many full-time mothers, an embarrassing label that insinuates long hours in front of the television watching soap operas while the newborn sleeps and the toddler draws.

In subsidising paid childcare, the Australian Government has succeeded in raising the status of the so-called ‘working mother’ and lowering the status of the woman who chooses to raise her own children. It has created a favourable environment for successfully transferring the rearing of millions of children from within a family-based care environment to outside the home in state-run facilities manned by young women with university degrees who stand behind locked gates.

And what a paradox! That the work a stay-at-home-mother does is menial, and yet her tasks cannot be replicated but by a graduate of tertiary education. This alone should boost the confidence of a full-time mother.

Perhaps there is a need (real or perceived) for mothers to work outside the home. If this is the case, then the Government has abandoned its most valuable citizens to the office, the checkout, the factory. It has failed to support the most important career a woman could choose and fails to ensure that full-time motherhood continues to be a real option for thousands of women.

© Eva Whiteley 2009

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