I find it very difficult to get my head around the extent to which life has changed since I was a child.
This whole issue came into focus over the last few weeks when all the talk here in Ireland was about the fundamental need to get childcare services and schools open so that the economy could open up again.
It brought me back to my school days and the memory I have of one day, yes just one day, that I had to stay in school for lunch because Mother wasn’t going to be at home.
Imagine, she was there every day with lunch ready and full of interest in hearing about all the news from the mornings’ happenings at school.
She was of a generation who was legally barred from working after she got married. She resented that imposition but certainly didn’t take it out on us.
I was of a generation when women weren’t banned from working BUT I wanted to be here for young son, as much possible, during his school years so worked from home and at night. Clearly, this wasn’t ideal in terms of enhancing my career but something in me just couldn’t have a situation where I would hardly see our young son or have him spending hours in after school care settings, which I would have absolutely hated as a kid.
Life seems to have changed so much and economics demands that both parents work to try and cover costs. I just wonder if we, as a society, have done the right thing. Should schools be essentially childminding services? Have we put material things ahead of caring, for both young and old?
Is there any chance that a bit of silver lining from this horrendous pandemic will be a reassessment of what we are doing, why we are doing it and whether there are better options for all involved in the complexity that is ‘family,’ ‘economy,’ ‘rights,’ equality’ and ‘loving care?’