I was watching TV yesterday. Actually I think he was watching , I was trying to ignore the Bingly Bongly Boo song and keep the rage that bubbles up inside me every time I hear the names B1 and B2, in check. Anyway, anyway, we had the telly on and an advert came on featuring Louise Redknapp. I only really paid any interest as I couldn’t work out what she was endorsing this time. Last time she’d just had a baby and was hopping up on the old Wii Fit to make herself ‘feel better’, but it couldn’t be that, cos really, who still uses their Wii fit? (not me guv’nr, its under the bed – I use the excuse that the lounge is too small). Anyway, she was going on and on about not having much time for herself, what with the kids and her demanding hubby (and the hired help but she never mentioned that), blah, blah, blah, and that she loves those moments when the kids have gone to school and she sits and takes a moment blah, blah, blah again. Turns out it was for a razor that also had soap in it – thus saving you time. What a segway!! Anyway, the point that made me really sit up was right at the end of the ad. She looks to camera, smiles and says she feels “guilty for about a minute, hehehe, but it doesn’t last” cheeky smile.
Vomit inducingly twee, yes – but it actually stopped me in my tracks. I was stunned. Why does she feel guilty at all? Are we being told, as parents, that we should feel guilty, even if just for ‘a minute’, when we do things for ourselves? Sod stunned – actually I was incensed! What a crappy ad, but what an even crappier message to be sending to all parents, but particularly mothers (sorry guys this ad was clearly aimed at women, unless you shave your legs too? Who am I to judge). While I absolutely understand father’s experience guilt too, this was so clearly aimed at the image of the perfect mummy, I’m going to concentrate on the girls today (please no hate mail!)
OK, I have a child, that makes me a mother. He is my priority – yes. I don’t work, other than the bits of freelancing I do from home. The energy and time I have, both mentally and physically, I give to him and to the rest of my family. That was the choice I took when deciding to have him. I have no problem with that at all. What I do have a problem with is being expected or in this case told, I should be feeling guilty when I choose to take some of that time or energy back for myself. Who the hell decided that was a good thing? I should make it clear that I’m not talking about the guilt a mummy might feel when leaving to go to work, for example or to engage in other serious pursuits. That’s completely different, heartbreakingly sad and completely understandable. No, I am talking about spending your time and your energy on you and you alone – often not “achieving” anything “useful” at all.
I can honestly say, hand on heart, I have never felt guilty taking the time to sit down to drink a cup of coffee or to do some writing or just veg out in front of the TV when the boy has been napping or in someone else’s (Daddy’s!) care (I mean, the first time we left him overnight I did get drunk and then a bit weepy for about 10 minutes, but like I said I was drunk, my power of reasoning was impeded, so please don’t count that!) I give so much, I am happy to occasionally take some back and I DON’T agree that mothers should feel guilty or be made to feel guilty for taking that time. By anyone, least of all shaving magnates!
Can you tell this has wound me right up?
So hey, OK, reasonable hat on, I know some women do get twinges of guilt when leaving their little ones and I guess that could be an old human survival technique. Back in the day if we didn’t feel bad about leaving our little ones, what was to stop us wandering out of the cave, leaving our little Igam Ogam’s to get eaten by wolves? I’m sure there is much written about this (not that I’ve had a look, but there is shit written about every other aspect of motherhood so why not this), by much more learned people than me so I’m not going to join in. I’m just saying that yes I can see there might be deep seated reasons for feeling this way. What I don’t see is that society, media, pressure from each other should be those reasons.
The work we do as mothers is relentless, I don’t need to tell you that. It’s the thing that knocked me the hardest after having him. It’s hard. Harder than anything else I’ve ever done in my entire whole life. I’m guessing you feel the same? So why add to this grind, by piling unnecessary guilt into the mix? You take care of your family, yes? You are part of your family just as much as anyone else, yes?. So take care of you. It’s not by accident that, in an emergency, air passengers are told to don their own masks before helping someone else with theirs. If you can’t breathe, you’re no use to anyone else. Same goes with life. If you don’t take the time or the energy to care for your own life, then how the hell are you supposed to be able to help anyone else with theirs?
Bollocks to lame shaving ads telling us perfect celeb mommies feel just as guilty as we do – hey Mr Wilkinson Sword guess what?