There is an article currently doing the rounds on Twitter, generating lots of discussion. The headline: 'Is motherhood a form of oppression - thanks to breastfeeding, organic purees and eco nappies, the baby has become a tyrant, says a bestselling book in France'. Piqued your interest? You can read the article here.
French philosopher, Elisabeth Badinter, has written a book which is basically summarised in this article as being about how French women are happier because they are not slaves to their children. Things like formula, disposable nappies and childcare are there to free women; their opposites are oppressors to women.
Of course, these type of statements generate a lot of controversy, but where do you stand on this?
Me? Well, to be perfectly honest, I could relate to it.
It sums up how I thought I would be as a mother, before I had Abbey. I did not want to breastfeed, I wanted to continue my corporate career and ladder-climbing, and was perfectly happy at the thought of putting my baby into childcare to do so. After all, everyone knows that a happy mother equals a happy baby - and those were the things that would make me happy.
What actually happened was this: I breastfed Abbey for nine months (she had an aversion to bottles), I gave up my career because of circumstances at work that made me unhappy to be there any longer. Feeling guilty about seeking other full-time employment for what I viewed as selfish reasons, and with no quality part-time roles available, I became a stay-at-home-mum.
And I'm lucky to be able to be home with my little girl, to be involved in every aspect of her life and to see her learn new things all the time. I love that. Spending my days breastfeeding and washing nappies? Not so much.
Over the last eighteen months, I have needed more. That is not something that women feel they can say. Being a mother should be enough, right? For me, no. All of a sudden I had so much time on my hands. There are daytime naps, for example. And evenings, many of which I spend alone once Abbey is asleep, as Steve has lots of commitments and hobbies. All this time, for someone who was used to being busy, having lists upon lists of things she needed to achieve each day, and a mind as non-stop as mine, is a form of torture.
In the search for something to feed my mind, I began writing. And then I stumbled across some work that I do from home. These things made me happy - especially the writing.
Now, I'm grateful that I have had the time to take (and make) opportunities to work towards a lifelong dream. And I can be here for Abbey at the same time. Yes, a happy mother equals a happy toddler, and I am at my happiest when I can use my sense of ambition. And being a mother who does some work rather than crying every day is a much better example to set for my daughter.
Every decision I have made since Abbey was born has been made with her at the forefront of my mind. And as her mother, I feel I should end this post by saying how much I love her and value the time we spend together, and every sacrifice is worthwhile. But that should go without saying. Of course, being a mother is worth more than anything to me, seeing her grow and learn is the best thing in my life.
But in reality, there is a 'me' as well. And lately I have been wondering - is it possible that I gave up too much for her? Is a woman, as the article suggests, entitled to not give all of herself to her children? What I do know is that I have done the best I can, but now there is more balance to our lives, and we are all happier for it.