“There’s an army of mums out there, [and] they’re mad as hell,” MP Stella Creasy recently told parliament. Damn straight. If motherhood made me political, this year took my rage, put it in a rocket and fired it into the stratosphere. I am hopping mad.
I’m not going to pretend I gaily skipped through life before motherhood thinking everything was rosy. Having worked in the charity sector for over a decade, I was well aware of inequality and suffering.
But motherhood made me realise everything is political, and this year has felt particularly grinding. It feels like we’re in a permacrisis.
The year 2022 has served us a veritable smorgasbord of catastrophes: from a scandal-ridden and inactive government, to an NHS crisis, to an(other) childcare crisis.
Coming after the entrées of Brexit and Covid, you must forgive us if we’re a little sick to our stomachs. As one shitstorm moves on, another follows; a merciless onslaught of faeces (NB. I’m talking about politics, but I’m aware I could just as easily be talking about motherhood).
Our latest nadir is this cost of living crisis. When a term like this is constantly bandied about, it becomes abstract and meaningless – but this crisis is actually a sliding scale from a niggling slip in living standards to terrifying scenes of hunger, unemployment, debt, homelessness, destitution and despair.
And the awful reality is that many of us are just a few unstable Jenga pieces away from collapse.
Reports of the mum who was hospitalised twice for malnutrition as she couldn’t afford to feed herself as well as her kids, and of children so hungry they are eating rubbers at school chill me to the bone.
The failings at maternity units which have left families grieving for babies who died ‘unnecessarily’; children dying in mould-ridden homes; nurses and midwives working in unsafe and traumatising environments; food bank use soaring.
On and on it goes. The sectors stretched to life-threatening breaking point are predominantly female: nursing, social care,…