Having it All.

When discussing the Kirstie Allsopp controversy with my mother, she took the opportunity to remind me that “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” This kind of follows on from what Kirstie herself was saying; we can have a career as a young professional, but that should take a back seat by the time we settle down to become a walking nappie-changer. 

In my eyes, the whole idea of feminism is about choice, and I think that’s what she was really trying to say; it wasn’t some backwards comment about motherhood or an attack on female education. Women fought to have the right for political choice, choice over what to do with their bodies, their time, their money. We have come such a long way – the classic cliché – and we should continue to discuss the different choices that are available for women so that we don’t teach our daughters that there is a certain type of lifestyle path – school, uni, work, babies, empty nest syndrome – that is the only option. It seems to have worked for my mother, who won’t be crying on the phone to me about her empty nest for a couple of years as long as my brother remains at home, but the whole idea that we have to choose between personal development and looking after children really doesn’t make me very enthused to grow up. Why is 27 the perfect age to have babies? I’m sure there are thousands of responsible, capable and parentally minded woman at that age…I’m just not in a hurry to become one. 

Also, to be honest, starting work at this age really doesn’t speak to me. For one, if it were that easy to find a job as school leaver then girls like me would probably be getting into the world of work without having to fork out thousands for a degree in what many would call a ‘pointless’ subject, just to try and broaden our horizons. Has anyone looked at the employment stats lately? Yes, unemployment is falling, but young people are still not being given the opportunities they desire to flourish in the workplace. I like the idea of finding a job at this age – 18 – but does anyone really want to hire me when my only skill set is making tea, sweeping the floor of a tiny baber shop and learning quotes for my A levels? To quote another out-there feminist, the candid Lily Allen, it really is hard out here (bitch or otherwise). 

So Having it All, “just not at the same time”, seems to be the only real choice for me here. In my case, this will mean going to university and hopefully discovering what it is I want to do with my life, before I take chosen career by the horns. Babies and husband I would hope for, but I would like to think that I can do more than be the woman in the background of every photo. As long as there is choice to be a professional, and to raise a family either as a part of that professional life or apart from it, I don’t really see what else I can ask for. So thank you, Kirstie, for inspiring this discussion of feminine choice. 

 

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Where for art thou, childhood?

So where I work, a small barbers in a smaller Welsh town, I have to pretend to like a ridiculous amount of very excitable children; apparently parents will wait for over an hour to get their little darlings a haircut, lolly and sticker. the whole concept really baffles me. I am not a natural child speaker; I lack the ability to gain their attention and seem to scare the living day lights out of many, even with the simple “would you like a glass of squash, darling?” Apparently this is a fear inducing question. Maybe it’s my hair.

Yet today, in what I will henceforth refer to as “Bernard’s Barbers” in, let’s call it, Aberllew town, I asked what I believed to be a foolproof, fearproof question: “so what have you asked Santa for this year?”

Now I was fairly sure I could have predicted the answer; a jigsaw, a bike, maybe even a serious request of the elves for a puppy. But do you know what I was met with?

“I want an iPad.”

AN IPAD. this child was under 10. An iPad. What has happened to childhood? I cannot believe times have changed at such an Olympic speed; I was only 4 when we welcomed in the millennium and even I feel like I am lost in time, lamenting the good old days. I write this to plead, quite frankly, and not to complain about the unfair amount of haircuts everyone in Aberllew seems to need all at once. (Honestly, I love making painful amounts of tea/coffee/squash/glasses of water and sweeping, while singing Some Day My Prince Will Come in my head, pretending to be Cinderella, but that is neither here nor there). My point is that children need to stay children. We don’t get to stay innocent and naive for long enough; before we know it, exams and school work and gossip and breaking hearts and bank balances that you simply cannot believe start to take over, drowning us in a sea of our own thoughts and conflicting feelings (and, let’s face it, comfort foods to eat our way out of feeling like an overweight failure which is such a vicious but delicious circle). Basically, buy you children a bike and take them outside to enjoy the precious time they have to graze knees, get dressed up in mud and make memories. Buy them dolls to play with, and not Barbies that were pretty much designed to give us all some form of appearance complex, but real rag dolls to be drEssex up and dragged around the garden. Buy them finger paints to inspire their creativity and real, tangible fun. Soppy, I know, but if I see one more child ignore the play box in Bernard’s, this breaking heart might fully crack.