All over the country, and indeed the world, there are mothers. They come in all colours and in all shapes and sizes: some are tall and thin, some short and fat, some mothers are young, and some mothers are… well, less young.
Some mothers live in the sprawling metropolis, high up in tower blocks, others inhabit spacious country homes and then there is everything else in between. A family’s home might be quite minimalist, clutter-free and spotlessly clean. So tidy in fact that you might not even guess children live there. Other homes exude the presence of children in every single room. In these types of family home, you can spot fridge doors literally hanging off under the weight of children’s art’ work.
Just as their homes differ, so do the skills of each individual mother. Some mums are incredibly creative and artistic. I’ve known mothers who have created beautiful mosaics for their children’s bedroom wall using fragments of coloured glass. Then there’s the amazing 3D models they create for their children’s homework, sorry of course I mean models their children create! But please don’t think that is all mums, some of us can’t even create a homemade soft toy from a John Lewis everything you need to make a soft toy kit!
Mothers can be disciplined, kind, caring and empathic. But they can also be opinionated, over critical, foul-mouthed and stubborn. Mothers have can have very different characters. My Mum for example has never said the F word in her entire life, wow can you even imagine that.
When it comes to lifestyles again, we can see a vast array of different set ups. There are mothers who stay at home looking after the children while their husbands go out to work. In these modern times, it is also quite possible for the woman to be the main breadwinner. Although I hear women are still earning less than in some jobs, it seems they are just not working hard enough!
Alternatively, mothers might single-handedly support themselves and their kids on their paycheck alone. After they’ve paid all the bills, they may even have some money left over to treat themselves. One month they might get themselves a Wispa Gold, the next a bottle of hair conditioner.
Then there is the delightful benefit system which provides a safety net for those without an income. Not a comfortable, well-crafted net, but a net, nonetheless. There are all kinds of reasons why a mother might need to claim benefit. I mean for starters it’s not like there are loads of jobs about right now. The few that are, well take a look at the hours, I bet they don’t say 10.00 am until 3.00 pm Monday to Thursday, with Friday off to catch up on all the bloody washing.
Now I feel it is important to look at the subject of income in slightly more detail, perhaps for two or three more pages, after all the role and lifestyles of mothers in society has changed a great deal over the years. Also, this will pad my introduction out a little, which I feel at present is just a bit sketchy.
Mothers now do all sorts of jobs. They are cashiers, police officers, careers, teachers, doctors, nurses, architects, bus drivers, cleaners, dentists, prison wardens, and even strippers. These days the world of work is literally full of working mothers, it’s not like those old Richard Scarry books anymore you know.
Some mothers have demanding jobs as well as looking after their children, that is. There are mothers who have positions where they manage large teams of people, make conference calls, and organise important meetings. Then there are mothers employed in jobs which are demanding in a different way. Perhaps they must answer like 1000 phone calls every bloody day. If that was not challenging enough, they also have to make sure they don’t swear or hang up on any of these callers. Then they must go home and be the epitome of patience with their children.
As well as mothers who go out to work there are also, of course, stay at home mums. This type of mum brings up the children while their husbands or partners go out to work. But don’t be fooled: this role requires a great many skills too. An important talent these women must possess is the ability to hold their tongue in the face of adversity and provocation. A stay-at-home mum will spend her entire day on her feet, working her arse off while simultaneously being told she doesn’t have a job as such. She will also be subject to such comments as:
“You’re so lucky!”
(I tell myself that every morning.)
“What do you find to do all day?”
(You don’t need to look, the housework finds you.)
“You must really love your kids.”
(As opposed to working mothers who obviously don’t love their kids quite as much.)
“Can’t you afford a Nanny?”
(A nanny? I can’t even afford a nursery place).
In reality, the stay-at-home mum is a cook, a negotiator, a cleaner, an event’s organiser, a doctor, a talk partner and a playmate.
There are also mothers out there who survive on benefits and have to sign on at the jobcentre. These women are highly skilled too as they support their children on a finite budget of three shillings a week. They also attend lots of meetings which the jobcentre staff tell them are important.
But that is not their only talent. The financially challenged mother has a mind like an encyclopaedia. She knows every free museum, gallery, and exhibition in the local area. Not only this, she will have an up-to-date knowledge of every two for one offer. At any one time, she is able to tell you who is doing a ‘kids go free’ promotion and which supermarket is selling Rice Krispies half price.