Should there be a need to define or separate my roles – Mother or carer? Protester or advocate?
Melissa Benn recently wrote in The Guardian about the potential power of the older woman and the lack of middle-aged women in politics. “Women make up the vast majority of carers of elderly relatives, with millions dashing between growing children and frail parents …….So why is there not more collective or popular protest? CLR James once famously described the working class as being “shy” in defending their own interests. But middle-aged women are far, far worse. Yes, some are now finding a voice, refusing to go “beige” into old age, many of them feminists of the second wave. Far more boil with fury round a kitchen table but stay resolutely silent in public. See the full article
Where are the women with the self-confidence to protest and advocate? I multi-task as an everyday carer but I prioritize advocacy within my daily agenda just as highly as blogging or morning care routines.
Every parent can relate to the multiple roles managed within our daily routines. Depending on the ages of our children; we are stocking the pantry, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, driving or instructing learner drivers, funding on multiple levels, teaching and being taught. As a parent the demands are varied and constant, every age group needs special considerations. Babies and toddlers are physically demanding and sleep depriving, school age children’s homework and sports activities take a team approach especially on Saturdays which can necessitate complex car pooling rosters. The HSC can be a peak in family stress levels and at University there are the added anxieties re: your child’s exposure to sex, drugs and rock and roll. So now as I address life as an everyday carer, does that change my role or redefine me, should I protest, advocate, be shy or beige ?
I think I remain a constant in a changing world because as a mother I aim to be there for my children, be there as an adviser, be there as a comforter, be their backup, be a facilitator, a motivator and a listener! Emily has to address a new physical world but she continues to live within social expectations, she needs to be independent, she needs to be able to support herself financially and physically care for herself. We are all on a journey to facilitate our children’s independence, it would be dreadfully wrong to smother any child and mollycoddle them into reliance on us. A state of reliance is an unfair existence for anyone and calls to mind the slogan used at present by NSW “Don’t DIS my ABILITY” read more. There is nothing more sustaining than independence, it consolidates confidence and instills a sense of self that perpetuates endurance and encourages unique individualism.
As a mother I tell all my children regularly “I’m kicking you from the nest!” Not literally now, this instant, but the process is in perpetual motion, an unending theme of my care for them. It would be disrespectful not to recognize their growth towards adulthood, and with this natural evolution comes independence. I rejoice in this maturing process but also recognize that if I am asking my children to evolve then I must comply myself and if in my middle-aged wisdom I experience injustice or witness discrimination I should address the issue and advocate for change.
I don’t want to be defined rigidly, as I see myself as a role model that lives life. I hope I show my children more than tell them verbatim how to live. I hope they make the right choices. Only when I allow them choice can their ability shine. I aspire to act with integrity and wholeness as a mother, carer and advocate. I cannot be divided, I come as a complete package. I recognize there is a need for me to own my views, as I expect my children to own theirs, and I see the need to advocate actively outside of my kitchen. I don’t want to be “beige in old age” as Melissa Benn puts it so, just as I encourage my children to develop, I will develop my advocacy, I will protest against discrimination and act for access. I refuse to be labelled “shy”, “beige” or worse do nothing.