Dear Cherie Blair

Dear Cherie Blair,

I saw you quoted in this article in yesterday’s Telegraph,

You stated:
“Every woman needs to be self-sufficient and in that way you really don’t have a choice – for your own satisfaction; you hear these yummy mummies talk about being the best possible mother and they put all their effort into their children. I also want to be the best possible mother, but I know that my job as a mother includes bringing my children up so actually they can live without me.”

Is there any empirical evidence to suggest that children of working mothers are able to “live without” their mothers and function independently as compared to the children of stay-at-home mums? Your statement seems to reflect your guilt as a working mum who has missed out in giving the full attention that children get from a stay-at-home mother.

You criticised women who “put all their effort into their children” instead of working. I admire and support mothers who put all their effort into raising their children – our future. Furthermore these mothers, me included, CHOOSE to stay at home. Other mothers may CHOOSE to work and raise their children, and many are forced to do that. Mothers will do what is right for their families according to their personal circumstances. It’s an individual matter; one size does not fit all in motherhood.

Raising children is a lifetime commitment and one that I personally take very seriously. I will do what I can to ensure I spend as much time as possible with my children and if that means taking time out from work, then that is what I will do. Yes, I want to be self sufficient and I want to be able to survive on my own but those are secondary objectives; the welfare of my children comes first.

Currently, I am a stay-at-home mum, because I have two small children and the costs of childcare would exceed the financial reward acquired from work. As a relatively wealthy woman with a wealthy husband you are totally oblivious to this, otherwise you would not have made such a sweeping statement. Having a plethora of staff to help you with child care enabled you to pursue a high powered career, but for ordinary people like us, it is very difficult to do this unless we sacrifice the quality of care given to our children. Unfortunately, Cherie, the reality of life is that the vast majority of us cannot have it all.

You said:“Some women now regard motherhood as an acceptable alternative to a career, instead, women should strive for both.”
You seem to think that women should have careers for their own satisfaction. Yes, maybe that is true for women like you and me, but it’s not the case for every woman, unless you are in their shoes, who are you to judge?

Motherhood is an acceptable alternative to a career, to those mothers who choose to parent in that way. Not every mother WANTS a career and not EVERY mother is satisfied with a career. Being a working mum is incredibly hard, it doesn’t surprise me some women may choose not to do that if they don’t have to.

However, I do agree that women need to be able to be self sufficient. I know too many women whose marriages have broken down to find themselves in the deep end. I will be bringing up my daughter to hopefully never need to depend on anyone for anything except her husband, that is okay because they will be making choices that are right for their family, just as I am for mine. However, in her future I do hope that society is more equipped to support working mothers, childcare is cheaper through government subsidy and men take on equal roles in the home.

Anyhow, maybe I am moving in the wrong circles; I have never met a “yummy mummy” as you described, most are like me who have made or are making choices about their lives that fit in with their families, based on their circumstances.

Your attack on stay-at-home mums really does you no favours; what would gain you more popularity is if a high powered woman like yourself campaigned for better maternity rights, parental leave, cheaper childcare, closing the pay gap etc. and then, maybe, just maybe more women with children would be able to WANT to work.

For the record, I would much rather spend my days playing, sticking, cutting, baking, splashing in puddles and reading stories now. If that means I don’t have lots of spare change sitting in the bank when I retire, then so be it. The memories I will have of my children are worth so much more than that.

Yours sincerely,
Asma (just a mum)

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Shagufta says:

I loved your letter- I am a stay at home mum, busier and happier than I ever was whilst working! However, I do get sick and tired of having to constantly defend my decision. Why should I justify it? Remarks such as those made by Cherie Blair prove how out of touch she is with reality!

Asma says:

Exactly! Why should any mother justify for being a stay at home mum?
Thank you for your comment Shagufta, much appreciated :-)

khadija says:

Asma, you have made some valid points here but can I clarify that not all stay at home mums choose this role because financially it is cheaper. When I say I have chosen to be a stay at home, I have chosen it without even exploring whether childcare is an option; I chose to give up work and raise my children because I want to see their firsts, not because financially I am better off than putting them in childcare. i know we as a family have less coming into our banks but the family bond we have is far more fulfilling to me than giving my children a materialistic taste of the world. I know this isn’t for everyone but this is a choice me and my husband made.

Asma says:

Thank You Khadija,

I have mentioned in the letter and I cannot stress it enough, the choice is purely up to the mother and her family situation. I agree with you, not every mother stays at home because of financial reason. Isn’t it a sad state of affair that as mothers, we are made to feel that we have to JUSTIFY the reasons we are at home with our children?

It seems to be the accepted norm now that both the parents must be working.
What are your thoughts on this?

Nazia says:

Thankyou Asma, you make some ver valid and true points.

As a part time working mum. I enjoy working but balance it with prioritising time with my children.

I have many friends who have chosen to be full time home makers and they enjoy it immensely!
Alongside their role as a mother they equip themselves with skills that they will need when their children need less of their time.

No one, absolutely no one will love your children and want the best for them as much as yourself, a dedicated loving mother. It is natural and normal.

Lets be supportive of the decisions women make in lives and not judgemental and making ourselves feel better because of the choices we made.

Asma says:

Thank you Nazia for your comment and well done on accomplishing being a mother and doing what you enjoy. I agree with you, no one can love your child more than you do as a mother.

I think what we as mothers need to remember is that there is more than ONE way of bringing up children- what works for you may not work for some one else. As you mentioned we should all stop being so judgemental of each other.

Thank You for stopping by, I hope to see you around my blog.