I am watching the film The Incredibles II with my kids and more kids and more other kids, yes it is the summer holidays and credit to my sister-in-law who was able to organise and orchestrate the entire trip to the cinema, sorting all the snacks, seating, and tickets, for which I am eternally grateful. As we had all settled into our assigned seating the opening few scenes of the film commenced. The first thought for Elastigirl was who will be able to take care of the children? She had been offered an opportunity of a lifetime, a course of action that would change superhero history for all time, and her foremost thought was? Who will take care of the children.
Elastigirl then went onto name each child and their particular issue or concern. The eldest girl was about to meet a boy that she liked, the second child needed to work on his Maths, and the baby, well he was a baby that needed his mother. The deliberation that consumed her was overwhelming but not shocking. Every mother in that audience completely understood. Especially the working mothers. The constant all-consuming inherent guilt which constantly accompanies the territory; like a relentless albatross looming over every thought, every action every reaction. ‘Should I apply for that job? That new role? The promotion? The qualification? The next step in my career? Every step counter weighed by ‘But what about the kids?’
‘Who will collect the kids today?’ This one question determines and underpins every task, action, meeting in a given day. If I know that the pick-up is taken care of then I can consider longer projects, arrange and attend certain meetings, make those work phone calls, plan ahead, clear some administrative tasks. However, if I need to collect the kids. The day is cut short. I leave abruptly. Whatever I am doing, wherever I am, regardless of the necessity – when time is up. It is up. I leave.
“‘Who will collect the kids today?’ This one question determines and underpins every task, action, meeting in a given day.“
I collect the offspring and my other job resumes from where I left off in the morning. The unpaid and often unappreciated job. There are no promotions, there is no salary, there is limited training, there is a great deal of self-learning. Yet this job is the essential, the crucial one – I am raising citizens of the world, the next generation, the future. Often this ever demanding role is slotted in and around the day job. Yet the ongoing impact of this one isn’t evaluated, or measured. There isn’t a Needs Analysis which is conducted every year, and there isn’t a performance related pay schedule either. Yet the contribution we make as mums is exponential. There are no words. My realisation that even Superheroes Are Mums First, and watching Elastigirl in Incredibles II yesterday reminded me, that I am clearly not alone.
by Anjum Peerbacos
Anjum Perrbacos is a mother writer living, teaching and learning, in 21st century London. Of Asian origin (beige- ish), wearing a hijab – not a terrorist! A Londoner through and through and proud to be so. Currently Vice Chair of local Constituency Labour Party. Promoting Political engagement within diverse communities. You can follow her on Twitter @Mammaanji or Facebook
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author