What to make of Cherie Blair’s recent remarks? Just another strike in the ‘mummy wars’ – stay at home mum versus working mum? Probably. But what stood out for me as being particularly idiotic was her reference to ‘yummy mummies’.
I’ve always been puzzled by that expression. What does it mean exactly? A recent thread in the Guardian asked this question and got varied answers ranging from women who manage to retain their sex appeal after having children (Gina Ford should approve), to women who look after their children full-time and don’t work (in line with Cherie Blair’s definition it seems) to women who are out to make other women feel guilty (not that one again!). Other comments and newspaper articles imply a well-groomed set of women living a life of luxury and leisure because they don’t have jobs to go to. That’s the one that really puzzles me.
Perhaps precisely because Ms Blair never tried being a stay at home mum she is unaware that there’s really nothing very luxurious or yummy about it, at least not in the sense implied. Dropping your child off at school wearing designer clothes and with hair and make up in tact? I’m lucky to throw something on over my PJs to make the trip, let alone even look in a mirror. Sitting around outside cafes in the sunshine with cappuccinos? Squatting in a cold church hall covered in snot, letting your cup of tea go cold while you negotiate yet another toddlers-not-sharing clash more like, before returning home to trudge play dough through a house that smells of poo. Attending pilates classes and hairdresser appointments? When exactly? Difficult enough to just grab a shower without your baby concluding that you’ve abandoned him forever or your toddler emptying the contents of the baking cupboard on the bath mat. Even basic functions like going to the toilet or eating often don’t happen until you’re desperate.
And we’re not just talking about women from lower-income families who can’t afford childcare costs. Ms Blair is talking about women with rich husbands. But babies with rich daddies still spew their milk back up on your designer label jeans, fresh out of the laundry (don’t even get me started on the laundry). Middle class toddlers still throw their food around and blow raspberries at you whilst eating yogurt. Private school children still wipe their hands on your sofa, miss the toilet bowl every time, produce quantities of mud and dirt from nowhere, and ensure that you have zero leisure time of your own. Money just doesn’t come into it – the fact is, being a stay at home mum just ain’t glamorous.
Personally, I don’t think yummy mummies exist. I think it’s just a term used by;
a) stay at home mums who are paranoid about their appearance and the state of their house
b) working mums who wish they were stay at home mums
Yet stay at home mums are accused by Cherie Blair of trashing feminism and choosing an easy life. So selfish. So lazy.
Give me a break.
Cherie Blair has, like so many others, missed the point entirely – she simply can’t allow that mothers can be motivated by what they believe to be best for their children.
“How can they even imagine that is the way to fulfil yourself?” Ms Blair asks. There’s the funny thing. Despite the unglamorous picture I’ve painted, none of it matters when you’re doing it for love of your child, and yes, love of being a mother. Experiencing to the full that unique relationship, that special bond that exists between a mother and child. Being there when your child utters their first words, takes their first steps. Being there to share with them their journey through childhood.
There is surely nothing more fulfilling, otherwise why do we put ourselves through it all?
Women have fought long and hard for the choice to continue with their careers after having children. But I wasn’t aware this made it compulsory. A key word here is choice. A word that implies there’s more than one option. Whilst working women demand to have their choices respected and protected, could we not possibly extend the same respect and support to women making other choices please?