Monday, July 23, 2007

First Steps

Today is the first time I've had the courage to go right through the process of starting a blog. Sounds pathetic I know. Can I do this - of course I can.

I began to think about it after reading "Wife in the North", and sympathising with her situation.
I'm now a grandmother, with a three year old grandson and two grown-ups for children (25 and 27) but it seems to me that womens' lives haven't changed that much in the last twenty-something years. Of course women can now work full-time, pay a fortune for childcare, struggle to please everyone at home, shop, cook, clean etc, and be overlooked in just about every area of life. Or they can choose to stay at home with the children (and who says this isn't work), do all those other things (except pay a fortune for childcare), and still be overlooked. It doesn't sound fair, but half the world - the male half - lets it continue, and the other half - the female half- is still powerless to really change things.

I was a wife with two small children, aged two years and two weeks, when I rather surprisingly became a "single" parent. (I know, it was awful.) Somehow we got through it (this is something of an understatement) and after a while I worked from home, running my own business, which meant that I was around for the children as much as possible. Of course we didn't have loads of money, but that didn't matter because we were a close family. A good family.
I remember my son coming home from school one day, when he was about 8, very upset and angry.
"Mum, we're a family aren't we?" I was rather puzzled. "Of course we are, why?"
Apparently, they had been talking about families in his class, and the assumption was that you were only a family if you had a Mum and a Dad (resident and definitely not divorced). After I had reassured him, I had a word with his school and told them what I thought. I was appalled that a supposedly caring Church of England primary school could make any child feel so isolated and excluded.

Of course this was Cambridge in 1987, where there were a lot of smug families cocooned in their secure academic world, but hardly the dark ages! Interestingly, by the time my children were at Sixth Form College and University, respectively, (and their father was about to marry wife no.4), most of their friends had parents who were separated, divorced and even remarried. And we were still living in Cambridge. Sometimes I feel like a living social history book!

Surprising, isn't it, that my children should have made it to Sixth Form College and University.
Weren't they disadvantaged by coming from a "broken" home? Didn't they get into trouble?
Thankfully, they were OK - still are.
And, guess what, our house was the favourite place for all their friends to hang out. We always had other people's children sleeping over, having barbecues in the garden, just having fun.
We always felt like a family, and I love my children more than anything else in the world. We're friends too. And that doesn't mean we haven't had difficult times. We've had fights, arguments,
times when we've fallen out. But that is family life.
I think that's enough for one day - time for a cup of coffee. Time to phone a friend.

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