If You Ask Me...Stay-at-home mums and working mums: lay off!

The Government plans to offer working mothers up to £1,200 per year towards child care. And did the stay-at-homes take this quietly? They did not

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, just when you were beginning to think it’s safe out there, along comes the Government to set working mothers and stay-at-home mothers at each others’ throats yet again. In fact, a pair were scrapping on our street just now, and would probably still be there, if I hadn’t stuck my head out and threatened them with a bucket of water. I admit it’s not often you witness such brawling in broad daylight as it generally takes place in more clandestine arenas, like deserted, underground car-parks in the middle of the night, where bets may even be laid.

However, you can tell how seriously the mothers on each side take such fights, and the winning of them, by the training they put in. Every time you see a mother attacking a tree, hanging from a branch, or biting at the bark? She’s strengthening her jaws in preparation for tearing out a throat and shouting: “Me, me, me! I’m doing the best for my children and society! I’m the one doing the right thing here! I’m the one who should be getting the pats on the back!”

You know, the council planted a row of saplings down our road and by the following morning? Gnawed to stumps. I understood the problem at once: it’s the working mums and stay-at-home mums gearing up for a major fight. Again.

So, what’s set the cat among the pigeons this time? It’s the Government’s plan to offer working mothers up to £1,200 per year towards childcare. And did the stay-at-homes take this quietly? They did not. It’s an insult, they are saying. Aren’t we important ? Don’t we deserve state support?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Don’t know, don’t care. Does one person’s gain always have to be another’s loss? Or, as I shouted out the window: “Sisters, sisters, can’t we just cut each other some slack every now and then?” And: “Why can’t motherhood be a safe house in which civility and mutual respect rule at all times, whatever our choices, to the extent they even are choices.” And, “Stop exploiting each other’s flashpoints for envy and guilt and resentment, or see this bucket of water...?”

But mostly I’m so very sad about the saplings – they were cherry and would have blossomed for the first time this Spring, I think – and the amount of collateral damage caused by these fights generally. Plus, what kind of dim-wit judges any mother by whether she has a job or not anyway? Is she cool? Do I like her? What else do you ever need to know?