Monday, 26 November 2012

This Woman's Work


Recently I was listening to a podcast of Radio 4s Woman's Hour in which a female historian (Mary Beard, I think) was talking about women in Rome. She made the point that women's lives don't generally make the history books unless they do traditionally male things, like start wars (Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc, etc). In fact the very word, HIS-story, excludes women. I knew this, but I hadn't thought about it enough recently.

By total coincidence I did an unusual thing (for me). Someone contacted me about depression, and I read back some of my earliest blog posts. I never re-read what I have posted if I can help it as it makes me cringe. However, in reading back my early posts I realised that what this blog, and I, have lost is writing about the tiny, day-to-day details of my life. These days, days can go by and I think to myself "what have I got to write about? All I do is look after the baby, the boys and my husband. I craft, meet up with friends and watch the telly in an evening." Which is true. Who would be interested in that? But why do I find the details of my life and my day to day thoughts from days gone by compelling? Is it just self centredness? But if I don't record the details of my life, who will? Will I just pass, unrecorded, dead in the ground and without a voice? Is my life is less important than, say, my husband who is out in the real world doing paid work? Even though, to be fair, he's not starting wars, everywhere I look I see men like him represented. I have my own voice; why don't I use it?

I wondered how and when I lost my confidence, and I realised that it something a man on a forum said. He laughed that people who write Facebook statuses about their children are boring. Not just a bit boring either, terminally boring.

Now this is a nice bloke, of whom I thought quite a lot. Somehow I have internalised this message. Who wants to be considered boring? But, the thing is, when I write this blog then I am not writing for people like him - confident, media types who live a very exciting life in a man's world. I write for myself, and for women like me, who may or may not want to read about women like them. I am interested in the daily lives of other women too. I am respectfully probably not very interested in the things he likes to post about (although I don't know, for we are not Facebook friends).

I made a decision. For a year, I am going to write regularly about my domestic life and photograph it. I am, for now, a stay at home mum. I haven't always been a stay at home mum, and I won't always be. I don't care if other people find it boring. I have the right to record my life, in this little part of the internet that belongs just to me. One day, I will wonder what it felt like to be a stay at home mum and what my thoughts were. I will wonder how I filled my days. One day my daughter may well be a stay at home mum, and I want her to know that that's OK. It's a time where you give a lot of yourself, and a time where feelings can run high - but that's cool. It is many things, and it may be boring, but it does NOT make you boring.

I think having a daughter is going to be good for me.

Claire x

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