How many ways are there for a mother to fail? You could be forgiven for thinking there are infinite. Hot on the heels of a report claiming over-involved “helicopter parenting” leads to behavioural problems in young people, a British Social Attitudes survey has only 7% of interviewees agreeing that mothers of children under five should have full-time jobs.
As one such mother, I can’t say I’m particularly devastated to meet with such disapproval. It’s easy for people to make abstract judgments based on rose-tinted misrepresentations of the past.
Stay-at-home motherhood is routinely characterised as “traditional”, despite the fact that our image of it is based on a specific, fleeting cultural moment that mainly exists in 1950s advert land. While so-called “working mothers” are frequently seen as an invention of late twentieth-century feminism, the truth is they have always been with us.