The Essay : w o r k . . .
. . . uncovering ME . . .
. . . work . . .
The Essay : work …
When I first saw this title it seemed that possibly it was something that I wasn’t going to be able to fully engage with. However, after contemplating it for some time, I realised I was thinking from a pattern of socialisation, as I tend to often do.
I was actually thinking of work only in terms of paid employment.
That said, I have had plenty of varied part time paid work, often very part time, but I would say that throughout my life my main mode of work has always been unpaid.
Being unpaid for the work that you do does not mean it is not work.
Being unpaid for the work you do is often unrecognised.
We could say that:
unpaid work is synonymous with unrecognised work …
I am 10 years of age and I am working.
Yes, working …
I find myself at such a tender age doing the job of mother. Caring for my mum and caring for my two sisters, who are aged eight and six.
And so this is where my, unpaid work, story, begins.
Taking care of my sisters for my mother who worked. Yes, we did have a father and yes, he did work too. But my mother was exceptionally clever and worked as well as my father.
I really don’t think she was cut out to be a mother. She had been abused by her father when she was younger and I think she didn’t know how to be in the family environment.
This information is not to offer excuses for her just to explain the situation.
And so it was my job to get my two sisters to school and to take care of them after school and often do simple preparations for tea and more than anything, keep the bloody house tidy …
I imagine in the era we are in now living this would be classed as neglect and abuse towards me. I am aware that when my middle sister attempted to do the same to her elder daughter social services were right on it and told her that she was giving her too much responsibility for it her age (and by the way she was much older than 10).
I also have another memory when I was at high school, probably my second year of high school but it could even have been my first.
Our local comprehensive high school was just at the back of our house. I simply had to climb over a fence in our back garden and then I was at school.
And so one day, when my mother was unable to work because she had broken her ankle, she decided that she couldn’t get up to get herself a cup of coffee and so she rang the school to send me home because she needed my help.
The shocking part of this incident is that the school did actually send me home.
I am 100% certain that today this would definitely have triggered social services involvement and would never ever be allowed to happen.
I did, by the way, pass my 11+ and I was invited to the, not so near, girls grammar school. However, my mother said why would you want to travel that far everyday to a grammar school because when you grow up all you are going to be is a wife and a mother.
I somehow now feel her thoughts were also geared towards her needing me home and that had I been allowed to go she would have had to be mother again.
… the end …
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