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Dismissing Motherhood - a Common Experience?

By - 6th December 2012

by Lisa Lintern*

I am a mother; therefore I must be dumb. Well, that’s what everyone keeps trying to tell me, right?

I got my first hint when I returned to work after becoming a mother.

“Don’t call yourself a ‘working mum’. They won’t take you seriously. You have to be professional at work and calling yourself a ‘working mum’ isn’t very professional,” was the advice given to me by a senior female executive.

Followed up by this: “Don’t tell anyone you have to leave work early to be with your kids. Trust me. Make something up – you, your partner, your dog – but never ever say it’s your kids.”

Yep. Seems being a mum in the workplace doesn’t do much for your credibility. Best sit quietly and listen to the blokes talk sport (of which I might also have an opinion, but that doesn’t really count because I’m just a girl, right Campo?).

Then I started to write a blog and became part of an online community. An online community routinely ridiculed for being “self-centred bored housewives exploiting their children for cash because they can’t be bothered to go and get a real job”.  Because that’s why we do it, us mummy bloggers. Lazy…the lot of us. Oh, and the free washing powder, because we’re all desperate for the free stuff. And we only ever write about nappies and cupcakes too, because that’s all we’re capable of having an opinion on. No political or social commentary here thanks. We’re mummy bloggers. 

Fortunately the good folk on ABC’s Media Watch set things straight about us mummy bloggers, especially when they gave some of Australia’s most talented bloggers those shrill bimbo-esque voiceovers. And whatever you do, don’t mention the words 'mummy bloggers' over the meeting table to those online experts at work. It’s enough to make their heads spin and spew green bile all over the meeting room walls. 

Meanwhile it’s also been suggested that I shouldn’t use photos of my kids as my Facebook profile because that’s just lame. And at dinner parties I must suppress any urge to discuss the pressures of parenting alongside political and social issues because I might bore everyone, especially the men in the room.

Sigh. Why is it in so many areas of our lives we are encouraged to conceal our motherhood like it’s something to be ashamed of?

Never mind that being a mother is the hardest, most demanding thing I’ve ever done. I’ve worked on some hairy corporate projects in my time, but nothing compares to the stress of negotiating a shopping mall with two children under the age of three.

Never mind that my productivity skyrocketed when I became a mother. I may not have as much time on my hands as I used to, but when I do work, I work hard and fast to produce the most productively rich hours possible. Long lunches or chats over coffee are a thing of the past for me.

Never mind that when I do sit down to work during those child-free hours my mind is fertile with ideas, because damn it, this is my chance to engage my brain in something other than taking the sheets off the washing line.

Never mind that the mummy bloggers I read are actually talented storytellers who even sometimes write about stuff other than “life behind the wheel of a pram”. I know. Shocking.

Never mind that I’ve witnessed social media brilliance from some of these mummy bloggers that would give some so-called online experts a run for their money, while costing less to produce than an advertising guru’s morning coffee.

Never mind that I’m deliriously proud that my children are a major part of my identity and if I’m doing a good job pulling off this bloody hard mothering business, well then I’m going to sing it from the Facebook roof, sister.

Never mind that if some of those blokes at the dinner party listened to my rant about parental pressures they might see how they could help ease the burden their own partners might feel as they attempt to juggle motherhood and work. Or fatherhood and work. Whatever the situation. Whoever the primary carer.

Never mind that we keep banging on about the importance of good parenting to support a healthy society…and yet for some reason we don’t want to talk about the gritty detail, or come up with any real solutions to help us all fulfill our parenting roles as best we can.

Never mind all that.

Because I’m a mum and clearly for some people that makes me dumb. So I should just keep quiet. 

*Once upon a time Lisa Lintern completed a degree in journalism, but she was lured to the corporate world where she spent nearly 20 years as a communications professional. She is now finding her own voice as a freelance writer and on her blog Melodramatic Me.

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