Wednesday, 3 February 2016

To work or not to work? Don't fret, Nicole Kidman has the answer

I am not a feminist. Well, perhaps I am in the sense that I do think the infinite superiority of the female of the species is illustrated by our natural ability to find lost items by employing such innovative tactics as looking for them and the fact that, in general, we can hold more than one piece of information in our minds at a time.

That said, my thesis is somewhat undermined by the fact that I never remember when the bins need to go out and I dissolve into a whimpering mess at the sight of a spider in the bath.

Perhaps indeed this is what I mean by stating that I am not a feminist. I think both genders have much to commend them, and much to disparage.

As a working mother in a house full of boys the idea blazing a trial for the sisterhood isn't something that plays on my mind too much, apart from trying to prepare my sons to be amongst the less repellent versions of their gender, by learning the importance of cuddles, putting the towels back on the rail and making a damn fine cup of tea.

But the example I set as a mother working or not is not something that keeps me awake at night.

I think that whether a mum works or not is probably down to two simple factors.

1. Does she need the money, and if she does will her wages be enough, post childcare, to make it worth the bother of wearing lipstick every day

2. Will she go bat shit crazy if she stays at home with the kids all day?

I know that my friends with daughters would add a third point to this as they do think it is important to set an example for their offspring, by showing women can succeed at work as well as being mums.

Well after a fashion anyway. I rather feel that motherhood and career are pretty incompatible activities, as both demand a full time commitment, which is hard to achieve simultaneously.

My advice to any daughter would probably be to hook up with someone who is loaded, employ a nanny to deal with any pesky kids and spend your time getting lovely facials. But I realise this path does come with its own pitfalls, as this type of sugar daddy almost invariably expects you to stay young and beautiful in return for his cash, and this becomes increasingly difficult as you eat chocolate and get older.

But you don't need my thoughts on the vexed question of to work or not to work as film star and ex-Mrs Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, has solved the dilemma for us all. The answer is that if you work you are a better mum.

Wells that depends. If you swan off to make a smash hit movie, come home with bags of cash and can make up for your absence by scoring them tickets to the Oscars, then perhaps working as a mother is a no brainer.

If you clean toilets for 12 hours a day and spend your spare time rushing between a patchwork of childcare that eats up 90% of your hard earned wages, perhaps the idea of living vicariously through your kids as a stay at home mother wouldn't be quite so unappealing.

Contrary to Nicole's certainly, like most things parenting, there is no right answer to these questions. It's all down you the parent, the children, the family set up and the various constraints and opportunities that are brought to bear on that situation.

Just as I rather despised those smug mummies who would lay down the law vis a vis breastfeeding, I also think that the best way to be a real member of the sisterhood is to keep schtum about each other's life choices. After all we all feel ridiculously guilty all the time, no matter what we do, so there is no vacancy for someone else to help us regret our choices.


  1. I read that article too, and I thought how silly of her to wade into that one. I seem to remember Gwyneth Paltrow being pilloried for saying something similar (?). I agree with some of what she was trying to say (that women should try and be happy, and if working makes them happy, then that is probably good for the family.) But that is not true for everyone.

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  3. The introduction refers to her daughters Faith and Margaret, but the body of the article has them down as Faith and Sunday. So being busy at work obviously hasn't helped her short-term memory. I'm all for being a working mum, but not at the expense of knowing your own children's names. (To be fair,it was probably the Daily Mail's mistake, and not our Nicole's.)

    I share all your sentiments - you put it exactly right.

    One caveat, though. That "towel back on a rail" thing... I have boys aged 18 and 15, and it's just about coming to them now. You have many years ahead of you... And I also have to add, when they can do the "towel back on a rail", it means that the brain space required for "picking up dirty underwear off bedroom floor and putting it in laundry basket" has been reallocated.

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