Posted by: okathleen | February 3, 2009

Martyred mothers?

Just a little more drip drip drip of guilt today following the publication of The Good Childhood inquiry.


It seems that childhood is not a happy place to be at present and our children have never been so miserable and stressed (apart from the time, perhaps, when we shoved them up chimneys and down mine shafts). It’s due to the booming popularity of the individual.

It’s all about me me me. The big I am. Altruism is infra dig and only the self is important, who cares about you?

I’m going to say something rather controversial now.


About bloody time. I told you so.


I haven’t martyred myself at the kitchen sink for nothing.

Mothers are there to do mothering. I cringed whilst my bottom went from half a crown to sixpence waiting for THAT question – and what do you do?

And what do you do? The shame of it.

Anything you like, used to be my stock answer. I don’t think I ever actually said the M word. And don’t tell me it’s about money. You make do. And you make do quite well when you aren’t spending £1200 per month plus on childcare.

Not that this has done me any good. I tried to explain to my teenage son why I had chosen to be a mother who mothered. He spent no time putting me in my place.

Well nobody asked you to do that. He yelped.

Well they are asking now.


(Is this Madame Kuan and her husband the poet Chao Mengfu? Their love story tomorrow…)

Back to Yutang and his take on family. He adheres to the Confucian philosophy of tach’ing, or fulfilment of instincts. This humanist approach is the basis of the family system. Yutang states:

“The ideal of the family system is necessarily dead set against the ideal of personal individualism.”

This prospicience is also apparent in the vision of Confucius:

“The old shall be made to live in peace and security,

the young shall learn to love and be loyal,

that inside the chamber there be no unmarried maids,

and outside the chamber there may be no unmarried males.”


I’m starting a separate page for my ohmygodwhattodonext list.

I’m using Woolf and Spalding to write about Fry…. hold on, this should be on my omgwtdn page. See you.



  1. Thanks for linking to my site, the sublime faraday cage for the brain!… and well yes I am a single mum who tries to do it all with very little child-care, you know the Susie home-maker plus academic plus working artist. I look at my arse (yes it is probably the same shape as yours) and ask myself was it worth it? I try to make pancakes whilst reading ‘Relational Aesthetics’ whilst emailing another proposal for another project. My hair looks like barbed wire and I’ve forgotten about the mascara on my face after the shower. My life is chaos just like my brain and my household, but in truth, I would not have it any other way. I juggle my life so that I can come home to my kids and pick them up for school, a frazzled mummy who is still a kid at heart.

    • Phew! Time for a sit down and a nice cup of tea after that… I’m interested in how you are linking the aesthetical aspect of your work to the practical…

  2. I really enjoyed this post! Heart felt with motherly wisdom and with a dash of good old common sense!

  3. she is always looking for new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world, usually MY world…hehehe

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