I brought up 3 children after being divorced in the 1990s. I could only work once my youngest started school as there was no real provision for assistance. I had no family help nearby. I passed the children off to less than satisfactory pre-and after school childminders, raced back from work to pick them up for 5.30, then home, cook and help with homework, then time for bed so I could get up at 6am for work the next day and drop at childminder by 7.30am. Maybe I had one hour of interaction a day during the week.
It was a miserable existence for them and me. State assistance was not great and we were treated like low life by the Tory government for being a one parent family and reliant on state handouts which were virtually nothing.
It felt very hard to have time to nurture or provide for them and I cried often at night wondering what the next day would throw at us. We rented and lived in the South East of England and really struggled. We were moved on at least every year by unscrupulous landlords who always kept our deposit. The children were clothed from car boot sales and that’s often where their toys came from even for birthdays. When the washing machine broke I washed their clothes in the bath by hand for months and so on. Obviously I have quite a few stories.
Then a better welfare provision was provided by the Labour government, they were a little older and our lives improved immeasurably. Holiday clubs were heavily subsidised and we were happier, struggling but a better quality of life and the ability to actually enjoy parenting. I think they are better young men now for the opportunities this gave us.I managed to have a career and bring them up, it was very difficult. They are now in the mid twenties.
I’m now in the unique position of having remarried and have a 5 year old. I am much better off financially, no state aid and am a SAHM through choice. I’m often questioned and judged by those close to me for my decision not to work, i.e. I’m not setting a good example or I’m lazy. I cannot begin on here to explain how different my daughter’s upbringing is. It’s not the car boot toys and the personal struggle I had behind the scenes to hold things together but, it’s being able to properly mother and give my daughter a great start.
Being a full or part time SAHM should not be dependent on how well off you are. I also believe it is wrong for any government to judge and penalise a stay at home mother or father for wanting to give their children the nurturing environment and care that is the basis of humanity.
I’m desperately sad for families and parents who are not able to practice the basic right of parenting because they are having state assistance and support cut. There are families out there that don’t have basic provisions like hot water, heating in the winter, fitting shoes, breakfast and so on. It’s all around, I don’t have to go searching far from my leafy suburban street in Scotland to find those in total poverty. It looks like a return to the dark days of the 90s I’m ashamed for this government.
The government seems to want a big working machine of people and anyone that can’t keep up or falls off this big machine is discarded, trodden on and lost.
Where is the humanity in all of this?
9th July 2015