Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Mother Ireland - Book Review


Review of Mother Ireland - Why Ireland Hates Motherhood, by Victoria White. Published 2010, Londubh books

I'll admit, I live under a rock. I have to, it's for my own protection. I can't stand the mainstream media, their patronisingly useless articles on breastfeeding, their toe-ing the line parenting advice, their sensationalist misleading headlines. I fear the day my children can read the gory headlines when we're stopped at traffic lights. I turn off the news, I don't want or need to be upset by man's cruelty to man (yes, sorry, usually the men), I'm trying to raise two beautiful sons. If there's a big story I'll hear about it, and I'll read up on it. I vote in every election, and make informed choices, I just hate being bombarded with all the negativity.

So.

I'm ashamed to say I had no idea who Victoria White was previous to our panel discussion in January (see my post here). A googling session before it showed me a lot of controversy about this book. She was deemed a privileged dissatisfied housewife by some, who said her book was not indicitave of most women's situation today. She apparently was pushing the point for Stay At Home Moms (SAHM's), saying that the state should support them financially. That was the main message I got in a quick google search.

Now, the facts:
Victoria White (for anyone else who was under the rock with me) in her own words was "born in 1962, the daughter of two writers, Jack White and Edna White. Her career in journalism with The Irish Times culminated in five years as arts editor. She resigned from that newspaper in 2002 to concentrate on writing and raising her four children."

So she knows her stuff, she's been there, had the career, had four children, been a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, now she's written the book on it all, exposing our society for what it is. Anyone who's felt the unspoken distain when they mention they are a SAHM, anyone who's felt working mother's guilt, any parent who wonders CAN they leave their job to raise their kids, anyone who wonders if you can combine feminism and motherhood, anyone who wonders why, in our "developed" country we still leave labouring mothers on a trolley alone, or why breastfeeding is regarded with such suspicion, this book is for you.

Some, but not all, of the topics covered in the book include:
Leaving a thriving career to stay at home with her children, how she felt, how she was treated by her colleagues, and by society.
Why the state does not encourage parents to mind their children at home.
Equality for men and women in the workplace; how motherhood affects a career
Traditional Irish feminism and motherhood, where we came from and where we are now
The great childcare debate, creche vs family member, who should mind your child?
How much children need their parents, are they just as well off with a childminder?
What is going on with our maternity services, obstetric care vs midwifery-led care, how births affect the woman, how Victoria's births went in the hospitals.
Why Ireland has such a low breastfeeding rate, how formula milk marketing has influenced breastfeeding.

I read this thinking I'd turn down the odd page that held a pertinent point:
Top of pages
Bottom of pages, had to mark some pages twice, some thrice. I should have used a pencil.
I had planned to go through it and pick out the important points to discuss here, but I don't know where to start, it's all relevant, it's all interconnected, it's all important.

If you are interested in children's / women's rights, a feminist, a working parent, a stay-at-home parent, an I-don't-know-what-category-I-fall-into parent, a prospective parent, an employee, an employer, you need to read this.
Not only does White identify and explain the problems in Ireland today, she examines their historical context, and more importantly suggests solutions. The extensive bibliography is a great resource for further reading on any subjects.
The book is full of evidence-based research, and makes a great case for improving our society in small but significant ways to improve our quality of life. Underpinning every thought is the drive to have children's rights recognised, and an investment in them now means a better future for Ireland. There is no emotive sentimentalism, but I had strong emotional reactions to reading certain passages, to see my frustrations put on the page before me, understanding WHY our society is set up to push women back out to work, and undervaluing women's work in the home. I stood reading this in the playground, tears of relief running down my face that someone could articulate to me why it feels like you're banging your head against a brick wall as a mother in Ireland.

Victoria White should get a couple of months in the Dail, holding the reins; she'd whip this country into shape in no time.

This book review is my true and honest opinion, I was not paid or sponsored to do it, however I received a free copy of the book from Her Ladyship Ms. Victoria White as she shall now be known.

Buy it from Amazon.co.uk or www.londubh.ie

1 comment:

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