The following is a column I wrote for a competition in my local paper. Let me know what you think!
“It’s a hard life isn’t it Mummy?” shouts my four year old from the toilet. A plethora of amusing observations like this emerge from her ‘unique’ mind every day. But she’s quite astute. For parents today, trying to raise children is nothing short of terrifying.
Of course there are those who insist we ‘have it easy’ in comparison to, say, half a century ago. Washing machines and tumble dryers make light work of laundry, dishwashers mean we needn’t worry about whether our ‘hands that do dishes are as soft’ with fairy liquid, the lucky among us have cars to ferry our children about, and at home, we have the luxury of yet more gadgets and gizmos to entertain our offspring. It sounds fantastic, but it’s essentially a flawed ideal.
Rewind 50 years. There were no ‘white goods’ in the average kitchen, but how many women went out to work between house-keeping and child rearing? Most parents nowadays have little choice but to work, and the pace of life because of this can be spectacularly frantic. If I had to do everything without the aid of ‘mod cons’, as well as work, my children would most probably be starving and sitting in their own faeces, having half killed each other through forced interaction.
Lucky for them I do have these things. As for TV and games consoles, I have moments of despair, (as I’m sure many parents do), when I long for my children to show even a vague interest in the world beyond Little Big Planet or Doctor Who. But these gadgets are a lifeline for frazzled parents, who, when feeling like we’ve run a marathon before we even leave the house to go to work, just don’t have any energy left for our children. We can’t entertain the idea of letting them roam outside, due to the pure fear our media has instilled in us. We even worry that the very generation bemoaning the ease of parenting today, will berate us for letting our youths ‘wander the streets’.
So, take all your mod cons. I will give them up in an instant if it means I can stay at home and watch my children grow up instead of entrusting their care to strangers, if I can usher my children out into the sunshine without a sense of dread. But hey, what do I know? I’ve got it easy, apparently.