What’s Wrong with People?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been flat out busy since the schools went back.

After two months of being fairly restricted in the work I could do, September has been spent making up for lost time and lost earnings.

I’ve barely had time to lift my head and so things like my blog have had to take a back seat – and then I came across a post on Twitter at the weekend that enraged me out of my hiatus.

Nichola Mallon, a politician in Northern Ireland, was pictured going into a meeting with the Secretary of State, pushing her baby son in a pram.

I, like most normal people, was struck by an image of a hard-working mum, getting on with the job in hand.

And then I noticed a comment underneath the photograph from a faceless critic calling himself Richard.

“Sorry, she is being paid to represent us as an MLA, how can she conduct herself properly if she has a hungry infant in tow?,” he asked.

Apparently not content with making such a ridiculous comment, he added: “Stop acting like a bimbo and grow up!”

Bimbo?!

Grow up?!

What?!

Then my eyes moved downwards to a post from Name cannot be blank, who sneered: “Working mothers are known for taking the piss”.

I felt my blood boil – and for the first time in a long time it wasn’t my hormones getting me hot under the collar.

I became a mum for the first time in 2013 and not long after that I left my job and stepped into the unforgiving world of self-employment.

While it gives me flexibility that I wouldn’t have in a nine to five job, my hours are irregular making childcare a challenge.

At the same time, I’ve never worked harder in my life.

Let me assurre you that ‘taking the piss’, as What’s His Name so eloquently put it, is something working mums don’t have time for.

There were a few others who threw in comments asking why Nichola hadn’t just left her baby with a childminder or family member.

Do they think she has Mary Poppins on call 24/7?

I know from experience how hard it is to find childcare on an as and when basis.

Like so many women out there, I give it my all at work and I give it my all at home, and sometimes, like in Nichola’s case – despite my best efforts – the two worlds collide.

Yes, I’ve crept off and barricaded myself into the study so I can do an interview while Grace and Ethan tear the rest of the house apart.

Yes, I’ve written stories while helping Grace with her homework or while sitting at the side of the pool while she’s at her swimming lesson.

Yes, I’ve taken them both with me to events I’ve been covering when there was no-one to look after them.

Yes, I’ve driven around, the heating in the car ramped up to maximum so that Ethan will nod off and I can pull over and make that all important phone call.

And don’t start me on the time I was doing a telephone interview and Grace ran in screaming that she needed to go to the toilet (think Professor Robert Kelly being gatecrashed by his children while he explained South Korean politics live on TV, but on a slightly less global scale).

Does that mean I’m any less of a journalist than my colleagues who sit child free in an office?

I’m sure ole Dick and What’s His Name probably think so.

I’m sure they also think women shouldn’t work at all, that they should spend their days stuck at the kitchen sink playing the dutiful wife.

I am also sure that they’re the first to dismiss stay-at-home mums as lazy and a drain on the economy.

The only thing I’m still uncertain about is how Dick, What’s His Name and the other regressives who criticised Nichola for juggling family and work managed to log on to Twitter from 1955.

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