Feeling a bit let down by 'the sisterhood'

(356 Posts)
Hopingitwillallbefine Mon 01-Jul-13 14:05:26

I am a new(ish) mum to a dd (11 months) and have just returned to work full time. This was not a decision I took lightly but made for a number of reasons, including the fact that we really need the money for a deposit for a new house and I love my job and have worked hard to get where I am, and would like to continue to progress in my career. My DH also works full time. We are fortunate enough to have reasonable working hours (him 9-5, me 8-4) which mean that between us we are at home with dd until about 8.15am in the morning and from 5pm in the evening. Between 8.30 and 5pm dd is at nursery. We chose her nursery because we loved it immediately and continue to be impressed and happy with the quality and standard of care it offers. Dd LOVES nursery, has made a great bond with her keyworker and seems to have such lovely, fun and full days.

Apologies for the boring details of our life - all pretty normal stuff. However the reason for my post and what has really upset me/pissed me off in the past few months has been the attitudes of other women towards the decisions we have made as a family about working hours and childcare arrangements. I have lost count of the occasions that I have been met with undisguised horror, disgust or pity when I've told female friends or colleagues I am back at work full time. Not all of them, but enough to make me feel like a dreadful mother. Responses like "is there nothing you can economise on so that you can drop a day or two?" Or "god you poor thing, that must be miserable". Even my manager has asked me if i want to consider going part time now I am a mum. Similarly, I have been treated to a variety of unhelpful and at times offensive remarks from friends and colleagues about our decision to use a nursery including suggestions that we are risking our dd developing attachment disorder or questions like "is there no way your family could help?" (No), "wouldn't you at least prefer a childminder?" (No), "have you thought about how damaging it could be if your dd's keyworker left?" Etc etc.

These comments are so frequent that I now have a pre-prepared mini speech when people ask about work or childcare to try and head off all the criticisms and 'helpful suggestions'. What annoys me is the implicit assumption that obviously I am only back at work FT out of absolute necessity and that if there were any alternatives at all I would of course be working part time or not at all as all good mothers should - and to admit that I have chosen to return full time partly because I still give a toss about my career and enjoy being at work is tantamount to declaring that I couldn't care less about my dd. Further, I wouldn't dream of questioning another woman's childcare choices and have been really upset and surprised by how many women seem to think that nursery is virtual child abuse and it is their responsibility to educate me on the reasons why. But finally, and the reason for my post in this section of MN is that all of this, without exception has come from other women. Not one man has made me feel bad about my choices or questioned them in any way. Similarly, my husband, who earns exactly the same as me, has never been made to feel bad about being at work FT. Nobody has ever suggested that he might want to go part time now we have a child.

So I just feel a bit let down by women at the moment. I know it is impossible to 'have it all' and I'm not pretending otherwise, but I would like to continue to pursue my career while providing as much care, love and attention to my dd as I can. I love her more than I knew possible and love spending time with her. I feel genuinely excited every day when I go to pick her up and we have a lovely two hours together every evening after work when I am totally and utterly focused on her. We have lovely weekends as a family and spending time together having fun is so important to me. But I also love being at work and enjoy my day and feel so fulfilled by it. Shouldn't other women be supporting me and encouraging me, isn't this equality and freedom what we have fought for for years?

CMOTDibbler Mon 01-Jul-13 14:11:24

Lots of people justify their own decisions by denigrating the decisions of others if the two don't match.
Plenty of men have made disparaging remarks to me about my work/life arrangements, as have women. The all encompassing answer of 'it works for us' is my solution.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 01-Jul-13 14:43:09

It is not your working arrangements. I am SAHM currently and I get comments.

Remember, a mother's place is in the wrong grin. If you and your family are happy, ignore ignore ignore.

AllSWornOut Mon 01-Jul-13 14:48:54

Ignore them all. I could have written your post except I went back when DC1 was 4.5mo.

I don't personally see the attraction of PT (4/5 days where I work) as you get less pay and holiday but are expected to manage a 5 day workload in the 4 days you actually work.

If it works for you as a family that's all that matters.

Ragwort Mon 01-Jul-13 14:49:33

Agree with Amanda - it is sad that other women put each other down (and you see it loads on Mumsnet grin) but I also get it as a SAHM:- 'don't you miss your career', 'how could you rely on a man financially', 'you're not a good role model to your child' etc etc etc. However I am 100% confident in my lifestyle choice and can just shrug off those sort of comments, and half the time people are just making idle chit chat.

What sort of situations are you in when people make these comments? Are you inviting comments by discussing the nursery? I think you have to learn to have a very thick skin and learn to change the subject or say, with a quizzical look on your face 'why do my family's choices seem to worry you?'.

Startail Mon 01-Jul-13 14:54:48

Women judge other women, they judge their working arrangements, they judge their clothes, they judge their hair, their make-up, how tidy their house is, etc etc.

I've even heard women judge a woman for a minor child behaviour incident years after she moved to France.

DH judges other men for being useless at their jobs and even then it's often more criticism of his management for putting the wrong person in the wrong job.

Startail Mon 01-Jul-13 14:56:32

I've even be criticised for being too short at a job interview by another woman.

Sisterhood like fuck is there a sisterhood.

SplitHeadGirl Mon 01-Jul-13 15:33:18

My mum sings the praises of my sister who works ft and puts her three children in nursery, whereas she says nothing about me who stays with them. My friend on the other hand always questions why she had children only for someone else to bring them up. So you see, no matter what choices you make, someone will always disagree. It isn't a woman thing, but a human thing - my husband for example hated the idea of using a nursery. You can't please all the people all the time, so do what suits your family and ignore the comments.

SigmundFraude Mon 01-Jul-13 17:02:54

'Sisterhood like fuck is there a sisterhood'

True. There aren't very many genuinely non-judgmental, non- competitive, supportive women out there. I only ever knew one, now very sadly passed away.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 01-Jul-13 17:05:31

'Sisterhood' in this context appears to be the old sexist idea of holding women to a higher standard than men and then knocking them for failing to reach it.

To me that's not what 'sisterhood' is about. Sisterhood is about the normal support women give each other, not some mythic idea that women should always be extra-lovely because they're female.

I agree with others saying best to ignore (or tell them to shove it).

sleepyhead Mon 01-Jul-13 17:08:19

It's so, so rude to comment on someone else's childcare arrangements like this.

Ignore them. Whatever their personal opinion, they should have the social grace to keep it to themselves. Thankfully not everyone is so ignorant.

scallopsrgreat Mon 01-Jul-13 17:27:02

Malenky is right. It isn't sisterhood, it is patriarchy. Children and childcare especially is always framed around the choices the woman makes. This naturally pits woman against woman as we know we are going to be judged for those choices. Men are left freer, to make the choices they want, with a lot less judgements.

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 17:52:05

I agree with scallops (except the part about scallops being great, but the rest, I'm down with)

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 01-Jul-13 17:53:37

I love scallops.

This is how I show my solidarity to the sisterhood.

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 17:55:40

I show solidarity by agreeing with scallops even though the thought of them as food makes me feel a bit retchy grin

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 17:57:21

...not a massive fan of the neckline, either.

<is in slightly silly mood, must be those hard core amoxycillins>

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 01-Jul-13 17:59:57

You're nuts. grin

But seriously OP ... they don't sound lovely at your work. sad

I think it's so crushing when you're hoping people will be in the same boat with you and it turns out they don't seem to care. I wonder if other women in your workplace secretly feel the same? I don't know what it's like having kids but I did find out a while ago that sometimes, when there's an unpleasant attitude, you find that other people felt the same as you but were too shy to break away from the herd. Which is crap, of course.

LesAnimaux Mon 01-Jul-13 18:08:10

For some women going back to work full time would be miserable.

I think the people you have spoken to are just putting their feelings into your situation.

I personally think it's great your boss offered you the option of part time. some mothers would kill for the option...an option women have fought for.

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 18:10:20

<serious, grown up face>

Sorry OP. I am ashamed to admit that 10 years ago I might have been one of those that was shocked at your choices. I remember my cousin doing something similar, and feeling surprised and sad for her. I was a bad feminist and a badder sista.

I was a newly minted SAHM at the time and actually, I would have been much happier if I had worked part time. If it helps at all, those judging you are probably either without personal experience, not very good with empathy or brainwashed by patriarchy into thinking a woman's place is in the home. Men aren't asking you about your choices because, in the most part, society tells them that what happens to small children during working hours isn't their problem. It's not because women are judgemental harpies and men are straightforward nice guys.

In summary, your choice works for your family, and you can never gain everyone's approval. accept that and polish up your brush off in preparation for the next comment.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 01-Jul-13 18:19:50

"Both my husband and I have made the adjustments we are happy with as a family. Why does this bother you?"

- how about that? Or

"Oh, would you Like to call my husband and ask him why he isn't part time too? Here's his number."

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 01-Jul-13 18:22:22

LesAnimaux, you know fathers can request flexible working too, right?

And bosses don't have to "offer" part time working, they have to have a business reason to decline a request for it.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Mon 01-Jul-13 18:25:26

I like doctrine's idea. grin

I think prom has a point, btw - I am sure I've said things that were unintentially the wrong thing to say, because I don't have those experiences.

In fact I know I have - I used (pre-MN) to think that if a woman was breastfeeding, she would probably want privacy, and so I know I've said to someone I saw getting ready to feed 'oh, I think there's a spare room in xxx building'. blush

As I recall the woman was quite polite back to me but I'm cringing to think now that she may have assumed I was judging her for feeding in public.

It might be the same sort of thing here ... though I do see that 'helpful' comments must be very grating.

scallopsrgreat Mon 01-Jul-13 18:26:05

Oh no! Sorry to have caused such controversy with my name. However, I reserve the right to name the foods I like wink grin

PromQueenWithin Mon 01-Jul-13 18:30:00

I dislike or can't eat most food. Makes it hard to menu plan grin

Viviennemary Mon 01-Jul-13 18:31:29

Well I think it is extremely hard to work full time with a baby. I have done it and wouldn't have through choice. But just say it works for us and I'm perfectly happy with the arrangments we've made.

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