Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Parents and babies are not the most important people in the country....
Recently Eastenders has got into a bit of bother about a storyline involving cot death and child napping, a plot line too far it is said. Funny that the sad but real condition of cot death and the thankfully rare baby napping are unacceptable yet peadophilic grooming, violence against women and rape are. It seems to me that discussions of things that make a certain kind of mum uncomfortable are becoming demonised. I’m not sure it is about children (no one doubts that children need good health, protection and education) but their parents. It seems that there is this push to persuade us that the small child, and notably their parent are the most sacrosanct and important members of our society. That Bonoism ‘the children are our future’ is hurled at us. The children are in fact their future, and their parents and friends future but not necessarily mine. A child or its parent is not more important than anyone else. A child is vulnerable and needs care, but so do the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill and the teenage girl. But that is related to extra care, a five year old is not societally more important than me. In fact we need less children, not more. Having several children is selfish and irresponsible to the nth.
As a woman, and one without children I risk being accused of a lack of awareness, I have not understood the special pressures of caring for children. True, but I do not thankfully understand the pressures of several situations, such as being the victim of homophobia or suffering from a chronic disease. More worrying would be an accusation of lacking sisterhood, but my sympathies lie with human beings as a whole and I regard motherhood as a voluntary chosen situation. Fortunately I am in a profession which can support and nurture women with children and my colleagues mothers or not are mutually supportive. However in other professional fields I would (and have) been furious to have to work harder to support another woman’s lifestyle choice. Additionally I do not feel that you can have a child and expect to advance as far as those that don’t in certain fields. Abilities all being equal, the childless woman or man who works longer deserves that higher professional achievement. The sticking point is the married man who gets the babies and the job, but a mother/wife who accepts this situation has to take some responsibility for it.
At present a disproportionate amount of effort and time is expended on infants, whilst the elderly who have still got lives to live are sidelined, receive less support and worse health care. A small child who has five years to live receives more investment and attention than an elderly person who may have fifteen years left and has contributed to the country for decades. The reasons for this are a combination of ‘cuteness’, sentiment and the media savviness of the family lobby. Why are families getting child benefit? Why are tax breaks even considered when we are cutting all public services. Shouldn’t pensions be more important? People chose to have children, an 85 year old man with arthritis chose neither to be born or to be ill. Then there is the NHS money wasted on fertility treatment, not having children is not a disease, there are always people who haven’t procreated. Any woman so obsessed with herself as a womb has got to be a bit of a nutjob really.
I’m sick of bloody great prams dislodging paying travelers from buses and trains. I find the company of toddlers for more than five minutes extremely tedious, they don’t really provide much in the way of intellectual stimulation do they? As for Mumsnet? They sound like Skynet the nasty corporation from the Terminator films and you know, they are really beginning to irritate me. Biscuitgate was bad enough (who cares what biscuit Gordon Brown likes best?) but recently organisations like this are getting on my goat. All the whinging about how hard motherhood is, is it really? Has always seemed fairly simple to me, very stupid people manage it, people with hardly any money manage it, criminals manage it. A child may impinge on every aspect of a parent’s life but surely they knew that before they threw the contraception away?
No doubt someone will be angry with me… I do like children and was a teacher for a long period (not a job you can do if you dislike them). I’m happy to be without kids because I know I would get bored and frustrated. Many of my friends are happy parents who do not whinge. I’m happy to support mothers in desperate straits. However parenthood is a lifestyle choice, have children when you want to, can afford to and adapt to them . Don’t expect to suddenly become a special case, get extra spending money, take up double space for free on buses or have your grade at work protected so you can have a couple of years off with the kids. And don’t try and ring fence storylines on soap operas to fit your precious sensibilities.
This is an opinion piece, please feel welcome to add alternative or personal views but any personal vitriol will have no effect whatsoever! xx