Skirting the Issue - An open letter to Victoria Beckham

Former 'Spice Girl' Victoria Beckham, the wife of British soccer star David Beckham, leaves after attending the inauguration of Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani's new shop in Paris, during the fashion week, Tuesday Jan. 23, 2007. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Former 'Spice Girl' Victoria Beckham, the wife of British soccer star David Beckham, leaves after attending the inauguration of Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani's new shop in Paris, during the fashion week, Tuesday Jan. 23, 2007. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

Dear Victoria,

How are you? Can we have a little chat? Girl to girl? Mammy to mammy? Career woman to... erm, career woman?

Firts I’ll start with the nice bits. You’re looking well these days with a little bit of meat on your bones. Pregnancy agrees with you. I’ll admit I’m jealous that you seem to manage to look so glamorous with it. I never managed that - not at all. For most of my pregnancies - especially the last one I stuck with the “just getting by” look. I lived in the same three maternity outfits, swapped my heels for flats as soon as I could and used make up not to accentuate a healthy glow but more to hide a deathly palour.

You looked well at the royal wedding. I wasn’t sure about the hat, and those heels would have killed me stone dead but overall you had a nice glow about a you. A smile wouldn’t have hurt. For some reason you don’t seem to like smiling much, which is a shame. You do actually have a nice smile. And if I had David Beckham waiting for me at home I’d smile a bit more, it has to be said.

Now that we’ve covered that ground, Victoria - or can I call you Posh? - can we get down to the nitty gritty? Now much as I hate to say anything which may annoy or upset a pregnant and highly hormonal woman, Victoria last week you said something which gave me the rage. You may not know me but believe me when I have the rage, it is not a pretty sight. Not. At. All.

So there was I reading an article about you thinking “Jeezo, she looks well when she’s not all gaunt and pointy” when you made some remark about maternity leave. “Maternity leave? What’s that?” you said in a jaunty fashion adding; “Being a working mum is hard - I think women can relate to me when I say it’s like juggling glass balls.”

Being a working mum is hard work. It is really, really hard work. And yes, it is like juggling glass balls - trying to keep everything moving fluidly because if one of the balls drops there is potential for disaster.

And by disaster, Victoria, I don’t mean a run in your designer tights or a broken acrylic nail. These days, the balls most of us working parents in general have in the air include mortgage payments, guilt about ‘quality time’ with the brood, finding affordable childcare, putting petrol in the car and food on the table. It’s about trying to keep hold of a job in recessionary times while trying not to neglect your children to such an extent that they grow up to be social miscreants.

It’s about trying to find time to cram in the housework before Kim and Aggie come battering on your door and putting yourself at the bottom of the queue.

I imagine your life is different Victoria. I imagine work for you does not come with dropping the children off at school/ creche while battling through rush hour traffic and praying no one notices that you are five minutes late (again). I imagine that you can set your own hours and you have a team of nannies to help out with those essentials like feeding, clothing and entertaining your children.

I can’t imagine, pet, that any time recently you have found yourself in the unenviable position of having too much month left at the end of your money or have had sleepless nights about the crashing property market and the value of your little piece of England.

As for maternity leave - can you imagine the average working mother-to-be? She may be working in excess of 40 hours a week. She may spend a lot her time on her feet, scanning shopping through the tills at Tesco, or nursing on an NHS wage in a busy hospital. Chances are she will work as close to her due date as possible to maximise her maternity pay and the time she can spend with her baby after it is born.

Chances are she has little choice about whether or not she returns to work. Chances are she will return a little earlier than she would really like because the bills need paid and statutory maternity pay of £128.73 doesn’t go very far these days.

Chances are by the time her baby comes along she is exhausted and needing some time to rest. Chances are she won’t have a team of night nurses to help her through the early months and wouldn’t be fit to try and combine caring for an infant with a full time job.

When you say that the modern working mother can relate to you, I have to ask - how exactly? Last time I looked I didn’t have fancy homes in foreign countries. I didn’t get an invite to the royal wedding. Justine Beiber does not send my children gifts of signed guitars (for this alone, I am entirely grateful). I don’t have a wardrobe of designer clothes or a host of A list friends.

I know you were coming from a “let’s all be friends” and “aren’t we all in this together” perspective but Victoria, pet, please accept that we so never going to be all in this together. Please stop trying to make out you are a mere pleb like the rest of us and give us working mammies, who really do have all those glass balls in the air, a bit of credit.

Much love,

Claire