I work in an office with a lot of childless women – childless through choice.
There are no yearnings, bewildered missed moments and achings to be mothers. Nope, they don’t want them and can’t really see the appeal. Absolutely their choice but there’s an undercurrent. A wave of dismissive banter that’s creeping in and rocking my boat a little more than I’d like.
Yesterday in the office I was talking about leaving Arthur with my mum Saturday night for the first time in months and months and how I was looking forward to it. One of the staunchly childless women said: “Can you even remember what it was like before he came along? I can’t imagine not having time to myself.” Another added: “But then I can’t imagine wanting to wipe bums and play with lego all day either.” They laughed. A wittering sort of smug, we’re only joking kind of laugh. To be fair most people are fantastic, supportive, interested in him and absolutely get it. But the ones that don’t, the ones that can’t see beyond their coupled existence, seem to think it’s fine to pass judgement – as long as you’re laughing.
I was surprised how upset I felt. I don’t care if they don’t want children, it’s none of my business but I would never turn round and say: “My god, I can’t believe you don’t want children. What’s wrong with you?”
It would be insulting and imply I knew best and, I don’t. Well not all the time. Yet their seemingly harmless banter felt like it was a direct attack on me as a mother, my choices, my role and inevitably my ability to do my job. Now granted, there are moments I arrive with breakfast on my shirt or hair a little crispy to the touch. But I’ve never missed a deadline, never created something that didn’t get praised. Never walked around with my top on back to front…nope sorry, I have done that one.
I never want to be an evangelical mother who exhaults the virtues of motherhood at all turns and poo poos other choices – we all walk our own path. But bloody hell I’m not going to stand for that again. I’m good at my job, I’ve made it through five restructures still standing because of it. I’m a good mum and I guess their comments hurt because that’s who I am. My job is just what I do sometimes.
So next time they decide to comment, hilariously on my boy and me, here’s my – equally hilarious – response:
“But I love playing lego, bringing up a new generation, wiping bottoms, creating a well-rounded interesting and interested person, baking buns and helping a little boy develop into a kind, intelligent and good man. The kind that will be running the country and possibly your care home once you’re in it. It puts writing some crap about finance into perspective doesn’t it.”
I do hope they find it as funny as I do.