Eight years ago, on this exact day, I became a mother. But the mother I was on that very first day is much different to who I am today. In the beginning, you go in ‘all guns blazing’, armed with your baby books and a heady sense of excitement mixed with equal measures of fear. But each day you learn, you grow. The fear sometimes lessen, and sometimes increases. You look at the books less, and you trust yourself more. So I thought I would share some of the things I have learned in the past eight years.
Friday was Inset Day for Moozles, who is halfway through Year Three. We wanted to give her a treat as she has memorised more than than half of her times table. Moozles recently had her report from school, and for the first time it wasn’t glowing. Although she is doing reasonably well, she has been having trouble concentrating, not wanting to do her homework and experiencing some issues with some of the alpha females in the class.
My daughter is six years old, and my son is two. I wish that I could say that I treated them equally. But recently, I have realised that I don’t. As I consider myself to be a strong woman, I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong woman too. I am determined that she grow up to be independent and resolute. And my son? Well, I want him to be a respectful man, a kind and happy person. Do you see the disparity?
Dubz is sweet and happy (who knows if he is clever, after all he is only two). He has all the potential of becoming prime minister or a rock star. Moozles is sweet and clever. So I do not want her working in a lowly post in an office, passed over for promotion because she is too bashful. So I am a bit tougher on her. But I don’t think this is right.
As a woman, you grow up with so much criticism. From yourself, and others. The way you look, dress, act. It is not fair to have to deal with that from your mother. I want my daughter to have a great life. I want her to be happy. But I also want her to be successful. I know how tough it is for women in the workplace. We have to deal with bosses who stare at our chests and colleagues who comment on our looks. And when we have children, the masses voice their loud comments on pregnancy sickness, maternity leave and any reduction of hours. And to top that off, we are paid 35% less than our male counterparts. Ouch.
There is some sense in wanting to prepare my girl for this world. But while I prepare her, I should not be critical of her. Moozles needs to know that her mother is in her corner, in this big bad world. That I am fair and kind, in a world that can be biased and cruel. She should not grow up seeing me encourage her brother’s cheekiness while expecting her to be serious and studious. Mother-Daughter relationships are complicated enough. I don’t want Moozles feeling like an outsider as she watches Dubz and I clown around. After all, there is room for all three of us to be silly.