We are making a lot of mistakes at the moment. And when I say ‘we’ I mean humanity; when I say ‘at the moment,’ I mean over the last century or so. This got me thinking, as things often do, of how it will be for my girls, when they grow up. I decided to jot down a few ideas of things I hope they get right.
I'm no historian or anthropologist – so excuse any generalisations under the knowledge of that fact. I am, however, one who reads a tremendous amount of information and sometimes correlate said information in an accurate manner. I hope I get some of this right then.
I've mentioned before that a stay-at-home-mom is a new/modern profession. The forerunners to our generations of female care-givers were all workers. They were the other half of the hunter/gatherer partnership. So the first thing I would like to see the next generation get right is instilling a sense of worth in those who make the sacrifice to stay at home.
Again, at a work function last night, guests, particularly the men, gave me the half-snub when they heard that I didn’t work. Its bullshit and it its hurtful. (Now I sound like a proper girl.) but the truth is, sadly, we stay-at-homers get a bad rap. We are assumed to be in our pyjamas and drinking tea all morning, playing happy games with smiling, well-behaved, easy-going children. These children also have long mid-morning and mid-afternoon sleeps, allowing us plenty of down time.
I want someone professional to change roles with a stay-at-home-mom for one week and then go back to their job. I am willing to bet good money they will be grateful for the break corporate life brings. I wish I could of told that smug so-and-so last night that they are so deluded about the day to day running of a family and home that they need to stop ogling their perfectly groomed hair and immaculate, expensive shirt for long enough to realise that being a home maker is a job too. The question I was asked was, “Don’t you sleep when the kids sleep?”
This is not the place to argue for or against staying-home nor who works the hardest. I simply wish people would not be so harshly critical of those who choose, like I have and allow me to add, like some dads have, to put any career aspirations on hold indefinitely, and raise children. I am not stupid. Or unemployable. Or un-ambitious. I am a woman who has a Masters degree, has worked hard (and well, I think) in a profession for almost a decade before accepting a new job offer, that of "Mom" and agreeing to raise my own children. It has been enormously beneficial to them and I pray that more moms will do this. It’s often damn hard, but it is worth it. I don’t want to be seen as a martyr any more than a man who travels a lot for work wants to be seen in that way. But I feel, aside from the finances, the main thing holding them back is the stereotype attached to it. So that would be my first wish, that we start seeing the worth in women who stay-at-home by choice.
Also, well-raised children equal well-raised adults, and we all know the world always needs more of those. It baffles me that we frown upon mothers who choose to stay home to ensure that their children are raised well, (in theory,) but I guess its the same way that society often frowns on nurses, teachers and policemen as second rate employees.
Secondly, I would love to see municipalities and individuals making a serious effort to recycle. Our municipality doesn’t do much to encourage recycling. We have private companies who are willing to collect your recyclables, so long as you have sorted it and placed it in separate bags, which need to be bought in advance.
That island of floating non-perishables is bigger than Texas. And its not shrinking. Glass, polystyrene, plastic, tin… they don’t disappear in months or even a few years. How can we still be living in a world where this isn’t taken seriously.
I heard somewhere that recycling could create a magnitude of jobs; I've read recently that in the UK alone, it could create ten thousand new jobs a day until the year 2020 and in the US it would create over one and a half million jobs if done properly. In South Africa, recycling is such a taboo topic that there are no statistics of this nature (for me to find, anyway.) So in a world where unemployment is a problem, surely this is a win win?
Of course, while thinking of that big floating island of rubbish, I would like to add that I hope/pray/wish that someone would create a biodegradable, economically available nappy. My girls have both been raised on microfiber diapers, except for when we leave the home and overnight. So I have been a 70% greenie. But even that has made a huge difference. That floating mass of non-perishables has a huge collection of diapers. Please find some earth friendly alternative to these disposable crap-collecting testimonials of a generation that doesn’t care enough to wash a poopy diaper.
I will naively add, thirdly, that I would love to see my girls grow to maturity in a world where health is more important than weight. Every now and then I get a glimmer of hope when a doctor or some celebrity punts this idea; Dr Oz, Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow are the few that immediately come to mind.
The perception that one needs to be thin to be pretty/attractive/socially accepted is one that is regrettably still deeply entrenched in our society and western culture. It would be nice to return to the days when a little curve didn’t equal a little binge-and-purge. But like I said, I think this may be a bit naïve, even for daydreamers like me.
Fourthly, As a race, I hope the future generations learn to:feed less, greed less and breed less.
Our farming practices are becoming borderline science experiments and our farmers are being replaced by lab technicians. We need to eat more simply and purely. Respecting the source while we do so. Our portion sizes are growing world wide – so are the obesity statistics. I'm an English major, surely if I can see the link here, our leaders can too?
We’re losing open lands in favour of commercialism and so-called development. Overpopulation in a world where contraception is so liberally available and sex education is so freely given is really not excusable.
And finally, (although I am almost 100% certain that I will be adding to this post as my girls grow up and I get more time to worry about their futures,) I wish we would love more and hate less. Here, I believe knowledge is paramount. Most phobias or prejudices come from a place of ignorance. It is easy to hate someone you know nothing about or to judge someone you’ve never spent time around.
Living in a country with one of the world’s highest violent crime rates, this is one that touches every nerve in my being. There are so many reasons for this crime rate and this isn’t really the platform to explore them, but I believe that primarily, aside from the HUGE gap between the haves and the have-nots in South Africa, there is also far too much exclusion and isolation. Our people haven’t yet had the chance to get to know and understand one another. We’re still kept apart by tribal/political loyalties, ignorance, fear and social classism.
I don’t want my girls growing up afraid of people they see on the street. I don’t want my girls becoming racist or homophobic. Just the same as I don’t want them to be snobs or spoilt brats. I don’t want them ever to say, “All blacks/whites/Muslims/(insert social classification here) are…” So it is important for them to have friends from all walks of life and all spheres of society. Rich and poor. Black, White and Indian. Gay and straight. Christian, Muslim and atheist.
Skin colour, sexual orientation, religion and financial background actually have little to do with a person’s core. It’s imperative to be able to respect one another and know more about each other. Cultural understanding is the tip of the iceberg, but it is an crucial one. This will inevitably teach them two valuable lessons: one, not to judge from afar and two, same-ness doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get along. There are assholes in all social sectors. Just as there are wonderful people too.
If they – the generation we’re raising at the moment – can get half of that right – then maybe there’s hope for us stay-at-home-plus-sized-mom’s yet.