Why we need to feel guilty in order to feel happy

I don’t cook, I don’t iron, I don’t clean, I don’t wash, I don’t scrub, I don’t sew, I don’t change sheets, I don’t do washing up, I don’t babysit. And that’s because I am on maternity leave. I look after my baby and I feel extremely guilty about it.

When I had my first child I had no idea what maternity leave really meant. I didn’t know that I couldn’t get any sleep after a sleepless night, because there was no one else to look after my baby. I didn’t know that after I’d spent an hour cooking the most organically delicious made-from-the-scratch meal, it would end up on the floor and my child would be wailing from hunger. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to look at my iPhone whilst walking and (I admit) pushing a stroller with a baby inside on the street  because I would be intimidated by disapproving looks; I didn’t know I would never again have a cheeky relaxed boozy lunch with a friend on a Friday. I didn’t know that for hours I’d need to pretend I was twice of my size and sit at a child’s table and sip an empty tiny cup of tea! that I would need to clean, wash, tidy, sweep, scrub (and whatever other verbs there are) not just my baby but the whole two floors of our flat. The added challenge was to be as quiet as not to wake up a strugglingly fallen asleep child, and to do it during the precious 2 hours I got to myself when the baby was asleep.

I wish I had read Esther Walker‘s Bad Mother, or Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn A $115,000 Salary so that I’d felt more confident saying no to the things that left me exhausted, tired and with a feeling of never wanting to have a baby again.

It took years to figure out that I actually earned a lot as a stay at home mum. And a lot more than what I got paid at my job.

I added the cost of ironing,  washing and tiding, cooking and babysitting and decided to “slash” some of the costs and outsource the other duties. As no one actually paid me £100K a year it was rather easy to do.

I hired an au pair who cooked for the baby and us, I hired a cleaner to scrub our very precious wooden floors, I took sheets and shirts to a laundrette, I signed up for Monkey Music Classes and a local singing group (they do the same but the difference in price is £130).  And I still “virtually” earned for looking after my baby, reading and playing with her, picking up my other child from school, helping her with homework and taking them to bed. But the difference is that now I can enjoy it all and also allow myself to have an odd boozy lunch, shop for myself, and carve out some time to write blogs.

The only disadvantage is the constant felling of guilt! But I hear that comes with motherhood.

I am not an academic Feminist!

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I am not an academic feminist. I haven’t read Feminine Mystique, The Beauty Myth or The Female Eunuch. I’ve tried to, once I first discovered them few years ago but without much success. It’s not because I don’t think they are seminal works or because I don’t absolutely agree with what they say, but the truth is, I find them difficult to read.

Here is a sentence from The Beauty Myth as an example:  “ It is inconceivable to the dominant culture that it should respect as a political allegiance, as deep as any ethnic or racial pride, a woman’s determination to show her loyalty – in the face of a beauty myth as powerful as myths about white supremacy – to her age, her shape, her self, her life.”  There are so many beautifully written books in the world  I could be reading instead…

I am a feminist and I’d like to call myself so. I’d like to say to a person I meet, “Hey, I am a feminist!”, instead of “Hey, I am not an academic feminist!”, but the problem is when I do say that, they respond “Hi, have you read the new Caitlin Moran book?!”. And the answer is “no, I haven’t! I already have a very long pile of must–read feminist books next to my bed, which I’ve been planning to read for the last 5 years. I can’t add another 500 pages, however funny…

The other day I was hiking with some friends and discussing the lack of women in Parliament and how we need to have a proportional representation, and the next question I am asked is whether I think punctuation is essentially a masculine addition to the English syntax. Hell yeah. There is a massive correlation between the masculinity of punctuation and women in Parliament.

But that basically sums up my dilemma. There are so many things I’d like to fulminate against (without discussing grammar) that I’ve decided to start a blog. Please read and feel free to contribute.