Her recent interview about the series (in this week's Radio Times) seems to have caused a few stirrings in blogworld and, as a working mum in a British Family in 2010, I thought I should add to the debate with a few musings of my own on Kirsty's words.
The part of the interview that really resonated with me was when she said
One of the reasons I gave up my newsreading job was that, having watched my stepkids grow up from the age of three and five, which was when I first met them and married their father, I saw, at first hand, just how quickly childhood goes by. And I thought, "My two daughters are going to be in their teenage years, not too interested in me or my ideas about the world, and I'm going to wonder, where did the past ten years go?" I realised that I couldn't read the news and do Desert Island Discs and be a mother and a wife. Something was going to have to give and it was going to have to be me.
It's that last sentence "Something was going to have to give and it was going to be me" that I identified with. My ideas of climbing the career ladder have vanished since having my daughter and I am happy with a balance of doing a job I love with having time to spend with her. Promotion would leave me less time to spend with my daughter and right now, that isn't what I want.
So how many other working mums have made that decision? To scale down their careers to spend time with their families? And how many working dads have left it too late? (I know my dad regrets working all hours when my brother and I were small and he's spent the last 30 years trying to organise family get togethers and holidays to make up for it) How many working mums and dads don't have the option of working fewer hours?
This leads to the next part of the interview, which I have seen misrepresented in some blogs, where they have taken one or two sentences only, so I give you the entire paragraph:
Look, I know I speak from a position of considerable privilege, because I had something that could reasonably be called a career. Most women don't have careers. They have jobs that they have to do to pay the electricity bill or buy school shoes. Choosing to work or not to work is the ultimate luxury and it's also a mark of how far women have come. Sure, most women, when they have children, will take a hit in their income - wherever that might be on the scale - but it used to be the case that you had to give up your job when you got married. Unless you were a spinster, for want of a better word, there was no place for you in the workplace. So I absolutely don't agree with the argument that feminism was somehow an own goal - that all we've done is give up one set of constraints for another. There are all kinds of avenues open to Freya and Iona that weren't open to my mother, and which were only partially open to me. I think sometimes you have to go too far in one direction before you settle on a path that actually does free women to be what they deserve to be in life, but I'm confident that we're heading in the right direction.
She isn't saying that women have a choice whether to work or not and that shows how far we've come. She says that most women don't have the luxury of being able to choose whether to work (because of financial reasons), but it is the fact that we are not forced to give up work because we are married that shows the progress we have made so far.
As a whole, Kirsty's thoughts are very close to mine which I have written about in this blog. About how my mother's generation fought for the right to have jobs and careers, that my generation almost feel constrained by having to work to pay the mortgage, but that hopefully, when my daughter has grown up, there will be a balance. For men and for women. A choice for both sexes of how to raise and finance a family.
There is, of course, more to the interview and I urge you to by the Radio Times and read it before making judgements about Kirsty's words, and there will be more in the series, but I shall watch with interest. I will finish with Kirsty's summing up of what she has found in making the series
Most of the people, most of the time, are doing their damnedest to do well by their families and that's something to celebrate