The Hours

1957 enge schwarze Röcke

Ok, That’s it. That’s enough. Look, I know that parenting is the spawning ground of a thousand ludicrous debates but there’s one argument that needs to be kicked in the bollocks and left for dead. No, it’s not whether Cbeebies’ Mr Bloom is shaggable, it’s whether there really are such creatures as part-time mothers, a label that’s so heinous that it resembles a bucket of confetti pissed in by terrified clowns.

What in the living frig is with the continual assertions in that mothers are either ‘part-time’ or ‘full-time’? You mean us mothers have a choice of the two? Well the midwife never told me that. When Kraken Junior burst from my vagina like a fire engine through a cat flap I was under the distinct impression that my responsibility to her was permanent and forever. No one said that I could flip my mental trip switch to off whenever I couldn’t be arsed with whipping out a milky tit.

That’s why the distinction between part-time and full-time mothering is really pissing me off. I know that these labels are short hand for how any given mater spends her days but from where I stand there is no such thing as a part-time mother. Believe me, if there was I would be one because, after five years of child rearing, my brain is begging for merciful release. Really, I don’t give a shit if a woman spends her days baking cookies with her personally conceived football team or if she skips from her single child at 8am to play the stock market for the next twelve hours. They’re still mothers so who cares how many hours chuck at the task of arse-wiping?

See, the term ‘part-time mother’ suggests that a woman stops being a mother when she is separated from her offspring. Well that’s a load of suppurating cock for a start. A mother never actually stops being a mother regardless of whether she goes to work. Do the people who believe in these labels think that when a woman gets onto that commuter train in the morning all memory of her children is somehow bleached from her mind until she takes the return journey? Really? So does that make stay-at-home parents part-time too, when they leave their kid to play at their mate’s house for the afternoon? No, thought not.

Which means the issue is really about mothers who work and the term ‘part-time’ is the stick with which society likes to irrationally, hysterically and ignorantly beat them.

In fact this faux-division reminds me of those parents who think that because they have more kids than you do, they know more about parenting. Well, if you’ve seen your nipple disappear into an infant’s gob, scraped toddler shit from your hands and broken the speed limit on the way to A&E at 3am it really doesn’t matter how much progeny you’ve produced. And the same applies to the whole hysteria about whether you do these tasks part or full-time. You do it. That’s all. End of.

Worse, these labels are so divisive that if they were applied to, say, black people (dependent on how black they were, for grim example) they’d quite rightly be decried as inciting racial hatred. So why in the frig do we not just accept the maternal part/ full time divisions but perpetuate them too? Are mothers really that desperate for one-upmanship?

So no, I’m not a part-time mother and I’m not a full-time mother. I’m just a mother, a mother who is doing whatever the fuck she can to get through the day without being hysterical/ panic-stricken/ arrested. You want to label me? Go ahead and try. No really, I dare you.

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4 Responses to The Hours

  1. Ericka Waller says:

    Ok, I love this, and I will ‘like’ and ‘tweet’ and all that shizzle. But if you beat me in the funny BIBS I shall be V cross,
    Best description of giving birth ever.
    Good one :)

  2. Shirls says:

    Come on Cath, what you are is a kraken good mother. All mothers are good – except those who shoot up and forget their kids in the park or collude in child abuse. The rest of us get on with it as best we can and love them to bits even when they drive us crazy. As you say, part-time parenting is a myth. I remember once asking my father when my kids were little, “When do you stop worrying about your children?” And he said “You never do.” It’s true – my eldest will be fifty next year and I still worry when she’s not well. I was in full time outside employment until I retired two years ago and all four turned out fine. My sister was at stay at home mom since her first child was born and they’ve also done well. Our mother died when we were young and we had no example, so we both had to wing it.
    I love your blog – please don’t ever stop!

  3. jemima101 says:

    Hmmm, you see in the past I have used the term full time mother, mainly out of anger at being told by other women that what I choose was unfeminist, a waste of my brain or the easy option. In a society where if you are not paid using the vocab of the work place was one way of saying this is my fecking job!

    I wouldnt do it now but still understand why some women do

  4. Jane says:

    Ahaaa! You have sunk your viscious teeth into one of my pet hates! I will show my hand now as I have been both with and without a paid job at various points of motherhood, and to be fair it got on my nerves both times. I hated part-time mother for the same reason you did (anyone use’part-time dad’ for any father with a job? Nope. Didn’t think so). But equally it’s impossible to find a term which doesn’t have some kind of loaded connotation for a right-wing journalist to spit about. You see we can’t have multiple roles/lives us women. We may be lauded for our alleged abilities to multitask but apparently that doesn’t extend to being able to see ourselves in more than one sodding dimension. So you get stay-at-home mums (who are never in the house), full-time mums (who didn’t get to opt out of the EWTD and work more hours than any full-time paid employee I’ve ever met), ‘just-a-mum’s who can sod straight off, housewives – just NO or the delightful ‘not working’. Of course we’re not working. It may be 110 hours a week, from the second you wake up to the last moment your kid calls you in again because the duvet has fallen off, but if you’re not drawing a wage at the end of each month it’s not ‘real work’.
    I’m going to stop now as this is getting longer than your actual post. You get my drift. ROAR.

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