Still, we were happy and I don’t resent Kathy her luxuries at all.
Kathy Cakebread, left, has a degree but can't find a well-paid job. Her mum, Karen, was forced to leave school at 15 but loved being a housewifemail online that would have come with that, so I now spend most of my time pottering around at home. RELATIONSHIPS KATHY says: I’ve had boyfriends, but have never lived with a man — and the older I get the harder it seems to meet someone. When my parents’ generation were young they met prospective partners on nights out, but nowadays most people meet through dating websites. It makes it trickier to know whether you have chemistry with someone. I’d love to have kids one day, but only within a committed relationship. About 80 per cent of my friends have children and most of them are married or in long-term relationships. They’re all so stressed working and trying to keep everything afloat at home, it seems like really hard work. KAREN says: I met Ian when I was 23 through a dating agency and married him at 24. We had our first child, Andrew, when I was 27. Kathy followed three years later. I was very happy when the children came along and did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry. My husband didn’t like me going out with girlfriends on my own because he said he worried about me. It never occurred to me to object to that. Most of our socialising was with neighbours — we’d go to their houses or they’d come round to ours for drinks.
SPLASHING OUT KATHY says: Clothes and makeup are my biggest indulgences and I spend a few hundred pounds a month on them. I buy a new outfit most weeks. I go on holiday most years with family or friends. I’ve been to France, Spain, Holland and Germany, as well to various destinations in the UK. I’m not a big drinker, but I meet up with my friends most weeks for a meal. I also pay €80 a month on the loan for my Peugeot 208 car. Mum has never driven — something I would find very hard to live with. KAREN says: When I was Kathy’s age there was very little spare money. Anything we had went on the children. I hardly ever got new clothes and had to make the ones I had last for years, or I would buy things at charity shops. I rarely wore make-up and kept my hair long so I didn’t need to visit the hairdresser’s often. On special occasions we went to the local restaurant for meals as a family. It’s hard to remember exactly, but I think it would cost €20 for the four of us. Mostly, we’d stay in and Ian and I might share a bottle of wine on a Saturday night. We couldn’t afford a holiday every year but we’d save up and, every second or third year, take the children to Mosney or Butlins holiday camps.
when I was 30, I’d have liked more independence and the chance to challenge myself professionally. But it felt insurmountable. Who would look after the children if I went to work? In 1988, there wasn’t all this talk about women having it all. You were either a mum or a career girl. I was so proud of Kathy when she went to university because I knew it could open all kinds of doors that were closed to me. I know what she’s doing is not the career she planned, but she has a decent job and, while it would be lovely for her to have children one day, I’m not in any rush to become a grandmother. My mum was only in her 40s when she became a grandma for the first time, which seems astonishing. She seemed so old at the time, but she was much younger than I am now. Kathy is luckier than me in many ways: she has a degree, a career, her own money and a car, and more choice about what to do with her life. But I do still feel sorry for her because building a future seems much harder than in my day. Who had it hardest? I’d say Kathy probably has more stress and worry than I did — but she also has so many more opportunities. I’d rather live her life as a 30-year-old, than mine. Article first appeared in daily mail online
ASPIRATIONS KATHY says: Over the next decade I’d like to do some travelling, maybe to America or Australia. I’d also like to meet a man, marry and have a child or two. At the same time, I want to progress in my career and for my wages to increase so my standard of living can, too — though I’m not sure how easy that will be. I think it would be very unlikely for me to be a stay-at-home mum, because we’d need two incomes to buy a family home. I don’t know how Mum did it for all those years. I think it is better being 30 in 2018, rather than 1988, like Mum. Women have much greater equality with men today. However, ‘having it all’ also means there is more pressure on women to do it all: work, raise a family and still look good. It’s also more difficult to create a secure financial future. So who’s had it hardest? I’d say me. But I wouldn’t swap places with Mum. KAREN says: Young women today please themselves much more, when it comes to work and family life. I think they’re very fortunate to be able to do that. I would never have wanted to miss out on having children, but,
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