D&D: Mothering and Making: What would support you to do both equally well?
Hosted and supported by Shakespeare's Globe
A huge welcome to Shakespeare’s Globe for this most vital event about something so close to my heart and mind and soul. Mother is not just a noun or a verb. It’s a qualification.
Michelle Terry, Shakespeare’s Globe.
An invitation from Matilda Leyser, founder and director of Mothers Who Make:
I believe we are facing a kind of crisis. 50 years ago when my mother was a newly married woman there was no question in her mind, or in anyone else’s, as to her role. She had just graduated with a history degree from Oxford University but, no matter her educational qualifications, it was assumed that she would now have children and stay at home to look after them. This she did. She says she cannot remember when it changed but she remembers knowing that it had when she first heard herself ask another woman at a party, “So what do you do?”
So, what do you do? If the other woman has nothing to answer but “Oh, I’m just being a mum,” there is a moment of awkwardness, of embarrassment on the part of the questioner at having asked and on the part of the mother on having nothing better to say in reply. At the same time if we are just working, just having a successful career, at some point it is likely that another question is going to silently or explicitly begin to be asked, be that from within, from partners, family, friends: “So, when are you going to have children?”
Here is the crisis then. Women are now expected to do everything. Have the career and the children, the office and the home. How? One answer has emerged in the form of a whole army of preschool and after-school care: nurseries, child-minders, nannies, after-school clubs. However these raise as many questions as they answer: how can this care be made affordable so that it tallies with the sums earned when mothers are working? How can it be made flexible to accommodate different working patterns? What are the short and long term effects on the children of being cared for outside of the home? And on the mothers? Important questions to which there are no simple, or black and white answers.
But there are other, more radical questions that I’m interested in asking: what would it be like if motherhood was valued and given equal status to a professional career? What would women do then? Might there be ways of integrating our mothering with our professional work rather than the stark segregation that exists at present? What can ‘the work place’ learn from ‘the home place’?
As someone working within the arts I feel it’s my job to dream of different ways of doing things. If, as artists, we cannot ask difficult questions, imagine new models, then what hope do other professions have?
This is an invitation to come and dream with me, to ask all your questions. They are important. If we are going to find a creative way through this crisis then we need them all.
See you there,