Sue Innes and Gill Scott (2003) 'After I've Done the Mum Things': Women, Care and Transitions'
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Received: 17/11/2003 Accepted: 17/11/2003 Published: 28/11/2003
'[I]n the morning, soon as the weans have finished their breakfast and the plates are in the sink, that's history. You need to start thinking forward. As soon as the dishes have hit the sink, that's it, you need to start thinking right, dinnertime, what are we gonnae make for their dinner the night? You're always thinking forward.'
W: 'There's just no other way - I can't send them all down tae ma Mum's, it's a small apartment. They would just start all the carry on wi her, so I'm gonnae have tae leave them. I'm gonnae have tae sit them doon, like tonight, and go - 'Right, no carry on - I'm warning ye - ye'll be kept in if I find out there's been any carry on in the house and you've had people in.' It's pressure! Always pressure...'
S: 'But J. will go to your Mum's, will he?'
W: 'He will go tae ma Mum's - he's off as well. So, when I get up, it'll have to be planned - I'll have to go over to ma Mum's wi' J., come back, catch the bus, be here for half past nine, put L in, do ma course in the mornin, go back, make - well they'll obviously make their own lunch, maybe not such a good idea - maybe keep them out the kitchen altogether til I come back. Maybe make lunch and just the usual, or, naw I won't be - I'll be goin over to ma Mum's and I'll be pickin' J up and I'll be doin' ma Mum's shoppin'. Tomorrow's Thursday, I'll be doin' ma Mum's stuff and then I'll get home at some point tomorrow.'
'She's ma support, Sue, she's ma main support, ma Mum. I was never able to do (unclear) anything without ma Mum. But she's not fit enough now, Sue. She had an operation that went badly - although she would never say 'no', then I know her good days an' her bad days and I would never pressurise her intae, you know, if she was really unwell that day, then L [nursery age child] wouldnae've been goin' over and I wouldnae've been at work, it's as simple as that.'
'"I promise I'll be good, I'll stay in ma bed, stay in ma bed..." Then later it's "He, he" - the wee laughing face roon the door. "I'm warning you - bed, now." An I dae try, like, I was tryin tae dae these [diaries] and [pause] and you just mair angry with the weans because you're, you're no even getting it done...'
'After I've done all the mum things. You know, so it could be frae ten o'clock at night till maybe three in the morning, or I've done four in the morning...'
'That is continuous, that, from when I get up in the morning. It's ten past eight their [children's] day starts - ends nine o clock and then it's like, you can actually sit down. But then there's always somethin' else. You think, well, if I get that done - an it's usually another washin' an' a dry. So, it just keeps going.'
'Last year was just, oh God, it was a pure nightmare. I still sit an' I go like - how did I get through that? How did I dae that?'
'Even though, you know, you've got your moments when you're tired and you're: 'Please, just go into your room, just go away'. Or,at the end of the night, when you're physically exhausted. But I do enjoy being a mum... I like when you see them laughin', when they're not fightin'.... That makes me feel good.'
'I got a buzz goin' tae college, cos J [her eldest daughter] used tae tell everybody, 'My mammy's at college.' She thought it was great, so that was positive. She got a buzz oot it an I got a buzz oot it, and we were kina - she'd come in and she'd go: 'Have you got homework?' an' I would say, 'Aye'. 'So have I.'
'Financially, it's the big thing for me, because I feel it's unfair for J.... If you've no got the money ye cannae dae it. Whereas, if I've got a job, she's at least got half the chance of getting' that wee bit more than what I can gie her the now. Go on a holiday, get a wee motor - things that people take for granted. D'ye know what I mean? That's what I'm workin' towards. A good wage.'
'Gaun tae the social an' sayin' tae them - here - there's ma two books back - I don't need them, I'm workin'. I cannae wait tae the day I can dae that.'
'As far as my sister's concerned, if she was to babysit for me, I know that that would be something back, that I owed her, and I don't really like to put myself in that position where I owe her a favour. Because she's got three kids and I've got three and I just don't know when, or if, when I could sort of be bothered with six kids in the one go. Especially with the baby, it's a handful.... It's probably sounding quite selfish, but I value my freedom, as well, and I don't get a lot of time for myself when, I mean, being away from ma kids...'
2 SIPs are similar to Neighbourhood Regeneration Areas of England and Wales.
3 Recent policy discussion uses the shorthand work/family or, more recently, work/life balance. Those formulations are of course not equivalent, although often discussed as if they mean the same thing. A more appropriate formulation, which emphasises the crucial tension, is work/care balance. Neither version, however, recognises that 'family' or 'care' which are positioned oppositionally to 'work' also involve considerable, work, albeit unpaid.
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