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 Day 19

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Some Call It Sacrifice, She Calls It Work

A Boy Was Born in Britain

by TOM CLIFFORD

A boy was born in Britain.

His mother will try to give him as normal a childhood as possible. She knows it will be  difficult but her determination has won admirers and her friends are  determined to help out, as best they can. Few actually believe she can achieve this goal.

She is excited about his prospects but also worried. He may join the army.

That’s what many of his relatives did. He came from a family that served.  She is pretty sure what school he will go to, again tradition will play a role.

His future will be mapped out, that she understands and accepts, by forces far  beyond her control. But she still wants him to have a say in the direction of his life.  She won’t be around as much as she wants and his dad  will be largely absent, despite the repeated, well-meaning assurances he  utters in  the first glow of fatherhood. This is a family not used to seeing fathers helping  out with changing nappies and doing odd chores around the house. Times change,  but in her heart she knows they don’t change that much for people like her.  Social commentators are adamant that they can predict with near certainty what  this baby boy will do in later life.  Barely has he had his first feed but begrudgers  across the land are already stating  that he and his family are a drain on the public purse.

Get a proper job they shout, do something, don’t just live high on the hog as taxpayers  fund your lavish lifestyle. Their accomodation, in what some papers  describe as opulent, has not gone down well in a country where  austerity is a part of the political lexicon.  She knows that to some her son will be a symbol, to others he will be  an object of contempt  and ridicule. His accent will allow many the opportunity to label him unfairly  and presume  to know his ambitions and limitations.

She is relishing being alone with him in the coming days but realises that society  demands certain things of her.

Some call it sacrifice. She calls it what it is: work.

The cleaning company, that pays her under the counter,  has  given her a week’s unpaid maternity leave. The government announced that  her housing and heating benfits will be cut, as will  the single mother’s allowance.

She knows that Britain is not a country where birth or rearing children is usually celebrated.

The poorest section of society in Britain are the 1.9 million single parents and their three million children. The statistics are damming with 46 per cent existing below the poverty line.    The mother nows that just 3 percent of single mothers are teenagers, 55 percent had children within marriage and 57 percent work.

When she was recuperating in the public ward she heard that the Duchess  of Cambridge  had given birth. Her son was born the same day.

She wished the future king well.

Tom Clifford is a journalist. He can be reached at: cliffordtomsan@hotmail.com