Guest Post: Sarah Long

Women giving up their job when they have a baby by Sarah Long

It is terribly tempting to give up your job when you have a baby. Just do the maths: by the time you’ve paid for childcare and factored in transport, half-decent office clothes, and a sandwich at your desk, you’re only just breaking even. Instead of which you could be dandling your little darling on your knee in front of Loose Women and Countdown. Wearing pyjamas all day, singing to baby while you plant tomatoes on the window sill and knock up nourishing home made soup. It’s a no-brainer, really, if you’ve got an obliging partner who doesn’t mind being the one to go out and bring home the bacon.

Except. In the rather fierce debate about whether women ‘should’ go back to work or stay at home after, the focus is all on the immediate circumstances. It’s lovely for baby to have mummy for a few years, and lovely for mummy to take some time out. A fug of family warmth, play dates, mother and baby groups, and the occasional blind moment of panic as you wonder if this is what it has come to.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, I fast forward twenty years to take a look at how this decision can impact down the line, when the children have become adults and you are confronted by the reality of an empty nest. A ‘few years out to raise a family’ has become a habit it is hard to break. They no longer need you, but neither does the workforce. Ask any fifty-year-old woman with a twenty-year gap in her CV.

My three heroines are what used to be called ‘housewives’ and are now referred to as ‘stay-at-home mothers,’ or ‘full-time mothers’ which rather shifts the emphasis. Where once they were in service to their husbands, it implies, they are now in service to their children. It’s not all bad, not at all. Think of those horrible boring jobs they could be doing. And now the kids are off their hands, they have time to think about themselves, at last. But don’t they say the devil finds work for idle hands? Especially when the house is so empty and your husband’s always working and you’ve come such a long way from singing along to ‘The Wheels On The Bus.’ If they’re not careful, the wheels could be coming off their own buses. But maybe a little disruption at this interesting point of their lives is exactly what they need. Especially when disruption arrives in the form of your first ever boyfriend whose ardour is entirely undimmed by the intervening decades …

It is terribly tempting to give up your job when you have a baby. Just do the maths: by the time you’ve paid for childcare and factored in transport, half-decent office clothes, and a sandwich at your desk, you’re only just breaking even. Instead of which you could be dandling your little darling on your knee in front of Loose Women and Countdown. Wearing pyjamas all day, singing to baby while you plant tomatoes on the window sill and knock up nourishing home made soup. It’s a no-brainer, really, if you’ve got an obliging partner who doesn’t mind being the one to go out and bring home the bacon.

Except. In the rather fierce debate about whether women ‘should’ go back to work or stay at home after, the focus is all on the immediate circumstances. It’s lovely for baby to have mummy for a few years, and lovely for mummy to take some time out. A fug of family warmth, play dates, mother and baby groups, and the occasional blind moment of panic as you wonder if this is what it has come to.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, I fast forward twenty years to take a look at how this decision can impact down the line, when the children have become adults and you are confronted by the reality of an empty nest. A ‘few years out to raise a family’ has become a habit it is hard to break. They no longer need you, but neither does the workforce. Ask any fifty-year-old woman with a twenty-year gap in her CV.

My three heroines are what used to be called ‘housewives’ and are now referred to as ‘stay-at-home mothers,’ or ‘full-time mothers’ which rather shifts the emphasis. Where once they were in service to their husbands, it implies, they are now in service to their children. It’s not all bad, not at all. Think of those horrible boring jobs they could be doing. And now the kids are off their hands, they have time to think about themselves, at last. But don’t they say the devil finds work for idle hands? Especially when the house is so empty and your husband’s always working and you’ve come such a long way from singing along to ‘The Wheels On The Bus.’ If they’re not careful, the wheels could be coming off their own buses. But maybe a little disruption at this interesting point of their lives is exactly what they need. Especially when disruption arrives in the form of your first ever boyfriend whose ardour is entirely undimmed by the intervening decades …

Click here to get hold of your copy of Invisible Woman.

 

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