This is a very good question. We have been writing here for a month a half, and we’re both pretty happy with the project so far. Maybe Lucila will want to write about this at some point too, but for my part these are the things that I like about writing in this blog:
I write about things that preoccupy me that I can’t share with other people, except Lucila. My partner listens to me from time as we share similar views, but I don’t think he’s as worried about gender, mothering or feminism parenting as I am. Apart from Lucila my friends aren’t really concerned with feminism and they get very suspicious about my comments on parenting or gender. The other day a close friend asked me: “Was your mum a feminist?” As if this is the only explanation for my feminism. So it’s a relief to be able to express myself on all these matters.
Secondly, there are people outside – you guys – who are reading and commenting on this blog. This is even more amazing. We have readers in the UK, Australia, the United States and Germany, and through their comments I’m getting to know about other blogs on similar topics. Most of all, it’s a good feeling to see how people from all over the place share similar experiences of mothering. It’s also amazingly rewarding to read about the ways in which women reinvent their lives after having children.
Lucila and I are very industrious. Every week we try to write at least one academic review of an article or book on mothering and feminism. Sometimes it’s not easy ( ditto, this week), due to lack of time, sickness, childcare catastrophes and viruses attacking the whole family, but by doing this we’re building up our knowledge and resources for future projects in the field. At the same time we also get the benefit of other people’s comments, and ideas about similar topics. It’s really enriching.
However, after this month and I half I’ve realised that I don’t have clear ideas about my mothering and my feminism . Sometimes I feel that I don’t know how to frame them in a way that doesn’t look “politically incorrect”. For example, my being able to spend the first years with E. is very important, and although I want to share that time and the responsibilities that go with it with my partner, I still want to be the one who’s spending the most time with E. It might be because I’m still breastfeeding, because my mum worked crazy hours when I was little or because it’s difficult to change the social and cultural constructions that are ingrained in my mind.
Having said this, I still want to keep on working, to be in the world, to renegotiate the housework with my partner and to find other ways of parenting that challenge current gender constructions. But the whole question of gender equality puzzles me. Different feminist writers point out that unless we reach equality in the household, women will never be free from discrimination in the workplace. I do understand this position from a logical, rational, and purely feminist analysis of how to reach equality, but the problem is, I don’t want that model in my life. At this point in my life (and maybe this will change later) I want to be the person spending most time at home with E. and making most of the decisions concerning his schooling, parenting and feeding. On top of that I still want to work (I love my tiny part-time job) but I know I need to slow down if I want to be with E. and keep on publishing and teaching.
What I find awful is that there is no avenue for those in the slow track. I have the feeling that in our society the message is that either you’re fully productive or you stay at home, because people half here and half there are not wanted. This doesn’t mean that I don’t support women who want to work full time and have their children. I don’t want to sound like a fundamentalist stay-at-home mum who thinks that the best thing is to stay with your children and give up your job. I would go nuts if I stayed with E. 24 hours a day. The problem for me is the difficulty of capturing women’s’ expectations when these expectations are so changeable.
For example, a woman in her twenties might want to study maths, get a PhD and work at a university, but after having children she might want to stop working for three years and return to her full-time career five years later; whereas another woman in the same position might want to keep on with her career despite having children. So, how can all these expectations can be recognised and respected?
I‘m also aware that this is very much the speech of a white, heterosexual middle-class woman whose partner earns enough to for her to maintain her sugar-coated feminist mothering fantasies. I’m just writing from my own experience, and I don’t intend to argue that this experience is universal to all women. So please take this as a disclaimer.
Knowing all these facts, how can all these diverse situations and preferences be accommodated in our society? This is what I want to investigate. It’s why writing here is a joy: this blog, for me, is about experimenting with all these questions.