Journalist Jackie Brown writes in the Daily Mail today: “If ever I get home early from work, I prefer having a couple of glasses of wine than getting too hands-on with Charlotte’s bedtime routine.”
Jackie, who had her gorgeous little girl when she was 43, is talking about the trend for more women to have babies in their 40s – and the difficulties of being a mum.
I am not sure if Jackie meant her article to come over as it has done – but in fact there isn’t much about the real difficulties of having kids in your 40s. These might be for example, having less energy than you would in your 20, being in your 60s when your child is in their teens or being mistaken for their granny.
But there is little about this. Instead there is much about how Jackie – who admits several times as if she is proud of it that she is ‘selfish’ – has a ‘lack of interest’ in motherhood – something that doesn’t have anything to do with age.
So much so that her husband said during the Christmas holidays, “You’ve got to sort this out. You need to spend more time with her.” His comments led her to accept a demanding job on a national newspaper.
I confess I know Jackie. I have spoken to her many times when she worked on a weekly magazine and then on the national newspaper. In fact she’s always come over to me quite differently from this article – as a lovely warm person.
That part of her personality is clearly missing from this confessional piece though as last time I looked there were over 600 comments – and very few of them had anything nice to say about her.
I have no idea if Jackie will regret writing this very personal piece. First person pieces can be a very effective way of earning money and a way of getting an opinion across. And it is a successful piece in that it has provoked a reaction.
If you are a professional journalist you should be able to shrug off comments. Liz Jones famously writes whatever she wants and Samantha Brick has built a career on writing about herself. But the difference with these women is that they are writing about themselves. And while Samantha Brick might have brought her husband into her articles, he’s an adult. They are not writing about how they feel for their child, who has no say.
As with mummy blogging, more consideration is needed when you are writing and revealing such personal feelings about your child.
Your feelings will change as your children grow. You might not enjoy your children so much as babies but you might prefer them as teenagers. Those children will grow up – what will they say when they read these sort of articles about them?
At the end of the piece Jackie reveals she has left her full-time job to go freelance, so she can spend more time with Charlotte.
I would only say to her not to get confused by what being a mum is. She talks a lot in her piece at not enjoying being ‘hands on’. However, you don’t have to enjoy finger painting with your kids to be a good mum. I too used to read the papers while my three kids ran riot in the garden. But now in their 20s they only remember that I was always there for them.
Have you read Jackie’s article? What do you think?