Sunday, October 09, 2005

Disgusted in Tunbridge Wells

(I don't know whether they have that saying in other countries, so to avoid any confusion, I should probably explain that I'm not actually in Tunbridge Wells. Or, for that matter, all that disgusted. It's an expression for people who write to newspapers.)

Some weeks back, I wrote a letter to the Guardian in response to this article by Carol 'Oh, it's only other people who aren't allowed to be sanctimonious' Sarler.

It didn't get published, which is OK - other letters on the subject did, so at least her views weren't allowed to pass unchallenged, which is what I really cared about. (Though it's a shame that one of the letter-writers seemed to be out to prove Sarler right about the 'sanctimonious' tag. For the record, Ms Conway - my mother had a full-time paid job during my childhood, my sister and I were looked after by au pairs while she was at work, none of them would have been allowed to smoke in our house, and I don't know or care whether any of them were spotty, given the utter irrelevance of their skin condition to their ability to take care of small children. Nor do I know or care who, if anyone, watched me take my first steps. I do, however, care about the fact that I had two wonderful parents who left me in no doubt about their love for me, who were fully involved in my life, and who did an excellent job of bringing me up, jobs outside the home and all. And, as a bonus, somewhere along the way it seems they taught me not to stereotype or be rude about people just because they happen to work in the childcare professions. Shame you aren't teaching your children the same.)

Ahem. Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes - the letter I wrote. I wasn't really expecting it to get published, so I wasn't disappointed (sob, sniff). But, since I put a moderate amount of effort into it, I'd quite like it to be seen by someone other than me and whichever underling files 'em in the round file at the Guardian's offices (hmmm - that saying doesn't really work as well with the advent of e-mail, does it?) So, for your entertainment or lack thereof, my comments on Sarler's article.

I’m sorry to learn that Carol Sarler regrets her decision to work outside the home. (I’m presuming that that’s the reason for the sheer level of vitriol in ‘The mother of all excuses’, September 3rd. That level of anger at a harmless personal choice made by others is usually an indicator of deep-rooted insecurity about ones own life choices.)

Of course, it’s a shame that this has led her into the kind of ridiculous stereotyping she indulged in in the article. I suspect she already knows perfectly well how inaccurate her picture is of stay-home mothers spending their time in nail parlours while the children obligingly get on with their own pursuits. It bears no more resemblance to the average stay-home parent’s real life than the old image of the selfish, heartless corporate woman, abandoning her children to daycare while she climbs the career ladder, bears to the life of the average employed mother. Really, Sarler should have known better than to write such rubbish.

But, for her own sake as well as the sake of parents everywhere, I hope she finds a more constructive way of dealing with her insecurities in future. This sort of petty bitching about other people’s lifestyles helps nobody, harms many, and distracts all our attentions from the genuinely important issues that parents have to deal with.


At October 13, 2005 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah--

So well put.

Your fan in NYC


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