Janey’s March Letter: We Should Love Our Children, but NOT Make them Our All

I was interested to read a report recently saying how many modern parents feel a disconnect from their families due to being too busy.

mother and son

Struggling to get it all done, they refer to themselves as ‘auto parents’, confessing to being on autopilot most days, juggling the duties to get through.

It made me think back to the days when my kids were at school; remembering uniforms and sports kits, and at one-time lunch boxes too – I remember feeling pretty frazzled myself.

The end of this daily grind seemed remote, and although I loved my kids, the constant carting around to ballet, swimming and all the extracurricular activities their London school couldn’t provide on-site was similar to a military operation – and often times a pretty dull one at that.

The big difference I think is that I never went out and worked.

My duties were children, all housework and admin.  Paying the bills, getting the car serviced, sorting the dry cleaning and arranging our social life seemed at the time an endless task.

He earned it and I used it…and at the end of the day just having a grown-up meal on the table was enough for me to manage.

‘Oh I love your house, it always smells of boiled vegetables’!

This was the deal, the arrangement and it worked well for our family but it always left me feeling like I was missing out on something. I really envied my husband’s female colleagues.

I  saw grown-up lunches with stimulating conversations.  Financial independence (so no hiding the shoes I bought last week ),  as well as a lot more to contribute to the dinner table… I always felt I  had missed out.

I know the grass is always greener – but I can’t tell you how nauseating it was when our very glamorous next door neighbour popped in to borrow something and said: ‘Oh I love your house, it always smells of boiled vegetables’!

Anyway, I digress.  There is a happy medium I think, and it seems to me from watching the modern daily school ‘run’ (40% of the parents are fathers, which would never have been the case back in the day) I admire these do’ers.

The kids may feel upset when the nighttime story gets missed – but I honestly believe that it’s so much better having two fulfilled if exhausted parents.

They ‘spy’ on them from a distance and retain a rather worrying interest in their life.

I’m assuming the reason these families are so busy is that the mother is working. This could be for reasons of finance, or maybe that these new women are educated to work ( unlike me and my peer group back then, when being marriage and a housewife was the obvious path ) and choose to do that.

Making the sacrifices is worth it to them and I say jolly good luck to them.  They’re lives and the juggling they must do is also fraught, and it takes a great deal of effort to run a career and home.

At the same time, I read that many mothers now are struggling to let their daughters go when they leave home…  They ‘spy’ on them from a distance and retain a rather worrying interest in their life.

Annoying for the kids – but also rather sad for the mother.  When you make your entire life about your family, then at the end of the day there’s often not too much left and you can end up feeling lonely and without a use.

Sharing the load makes for a much more fulfilled life in my opinion. Everyone equal, there will be no resentment even if there’s plenty of lists and occasional ‘days off sick!’.

As we move towards a new era of equality, I hope to continue to see more men on the school run and more women bringing home the bacon, whilst both handle the domestic duties, setting the example for the children that whilst they are important, they should never be the ‘only’ thing in a mother’s life, unless they want her on their backs forever!


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