opinion

Jodi Anasta is not a bad mother. Neither are Rachael Finch, Chelsea Clinton or Jessica Marais.

The sound you can hear is people shouting at Jodi Anasta through their keyboards and their phone screens. You see, news broke yesterday that her 2-year-old daughter Aleeia lives with her father Braith Anasta during the week and her mother on weekends. The couple are no longer married.

“I have her every week, Monday to Friday,” 34-year-old Braith Anasta told Yahoo7B. “I’m a lucky dad and she’s amazing, she’s a beautiful girl who is growing up quick so I’m very, very lucky.”

Jodi Anasta, 34, is currently working on Neighbours which is filmed in Melbourne. Presumably, she commutes. He’s the lead parent. They’ve worked it out. Just like every couple must even if they aren’t divorced.

But wait. The fact Braith is their daughter’s primary carer at the moment is clear proof that Jodi is a terrible mother and actually an awful person. What mother DOES that? This is even worse than that time Rachael Finch said that her daughter spends weekends with her grandparents.

#SundaySelfie w the princess????????

A photo posted by Jodi Anasta (@jodigordon) on Jul 23, 2016 at 5:06pm PDT

Or when James Stewart said he was the primary carer of his 5-year-old daughter Scout with ex-partner Jessica Marais while she was travelling and that they share custody 50/50 when she was home.

Or the time Chelsea Clinton missed her toddler’s first day at preschool because she was campaigning with her mother who is trying to be President. The child’s dad was there but still. What a terrible mother. All of them. Terrible. Why did they even have kids if they never want to be with them?

Look, we need to stop this. We need to get over this idea that the only person who can care for their child adequately and provide all their physical and emotional needs at all times is their biological mother.

What about their father? What about other loving adults in their lives? Grandparents? Carers?

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I always rail against the bollocks argument that women are their own worst enemies but in this case it’s often true. Because men aren’t leaving furious comments hissing about Jessica and Jodi and Rachael and Chelsea. Men do not care or even understand what the problem is here. They’re actually confused because they thought we WANTED them to Lean In and take more responsibility as parents. Don’t we? That’s the memo they got.

It’s true. We do.

So why are we, as women, propagating this self-destructive myth that you can only be a Good Mother if you spend all your time with your child? And that you must take on the mantle of Lead Parent to even qualify a proper mum (let alone a good one)?

Friends, this is not helping us. It’s harming us badly. How can we complain about gender inequality and how difficult it is to Lean In at work while also doing everything at home when, every time another woman reveals she does things a bit differently, we crucify her?

Mia Freedman discusses why it’s okay to not hang with your kids ALL the time. Post continues after video…

We need a different model. We KNOW we do. And accepting ways of raising kids that don’t involve the mother doing everything is the first step.

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Annabel Crabb, author of The Wife Drought, Why Women Need Wives and Men Need Lives argues this point forcefully in her book.

“When we look at workplaces in search of answers as to why women don’t succeed at the same rates as men, we look at the women very closely,” she told the AFR. “But if women are combining their careers with a significant second shift of work when they get home, then you’re not going to sort out the work problem until you sort out the home problem. And the truth is, over the past half-century there has been a massive shift of women into the workplace. But no real shift in the opposite direction – of men reducing work hours or taking on more responsibilities at home. I think the next big shift isn’t about getting more women into the workplace; it’s about men feeling all right about leaving work for a bit when other life events call – just like women so often do. That’s the man-shaped hole in this debate.”

A photo posted by Jodi Anasta (@jodigordon) on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:03pm PDT

She’s right, of course. And we know she’s right. But still, on some visceral level, we are scathing of women when they don’t conform to our very strict and very regressive ideas about how a mother should behave. I.E: as primary carers and lead parents all of the time.

I do not feel sorry for the children of Jessica or Rachael or Chelsea or Jodi. And you shouldn’t either. Unlike the hundreds of thousands of unwanted, abused and neglected kids in Australia, they’re all fortunate enough to have two loving parents and extended families who are heavily invested in their care.

And if we truly believe in gender equality, it’s time we stopped insisting that the most important quality a carer must have is that they gave birth to the child in their care. Or that the only way to be a good mother is to be with your child 24/7. Because that’s simply, plainly, unutterably untrue.

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