Talking about emotional labour

Jess Keating

Jess Keating

Not too long ago, I wouldn’t have been considered a young mum. But things change. Women are now expected to have a career, and also have children, and succeed at both; and still manage the household, look good, and smile while you’re doing it. If we can’t manage all of these things, we feel like failures.

If we can’t manage all of these things, we feel like failures.

Jess Keating

This is a sociological concept called “emotional labour”, and it’s a struggle for every woman I know, with or without children.

Today, I had a meeting at McDonald’s with my daughter in tow. I picked the place so she could play while I did what I needed to do, but I forgot how much energy she has at that point in the afternoon! While I was running back and forth between my commitment and my kid, a woman offered to watch her while she and her son were in the playground. I nearly cried.

On the one hand, it was such a lovely gesture, but on the other, it felt like I couldn’t manage my life and I was therefore letting Liliath down. Sometimes, I feel so guilty: knowing that I can’t do it on my own, feeling like I can’t give my daughter everything she wants or needs.

I got into an argument about being back at uni recently. The person in question didn’t understand why I didn’t stay home with my daughter, and rely on my partner to support us, and didn’t understand that being able to do so is in this day and age is a luxury.

My generation is, for the most part, priced out of the housing market. We have no job security, and in order to get anywhere you need the experience and the pieces of paper that back that experience up.

I don’t want my kid to remember the years where we couldn’t afford things, and her Mummy and Daddy were stressed beyond belief just making ends meet. I want her to remember us working hard and seeing tangible progress in our lives. I want her to remember me, not in tears running around a McDonald’s, but instead, feeling in control of my life.

It’s something that not just young parents go through, it’s a struggle for everyone in our generation.

This isn’t forever, and I know that we will get somewhere – and in the end, our strength as people are shown through Liliath and the person that she is, and the people we become in the process.

Sometimes it’s just exhausting to get there, and frustrating to explain why we have to do what we do.