Our daughter Clementine, 5, has just decided what she wants to be when she grows up. ‘A cleaner .... and a mother,’ she says, in that order. Her mother, my wife Taffeta, winces at Clemmie’s ambition. Middle-class rules dictate that we should try to knock such traditional notions out of little girls’ brains. It’s not feminist and therefore bad.
But why? If this health crisis has taught us anything, it is that cleaning is one of the most important things human beings can do. And even in our horridly secular age, we all know deep down that motherhood is sacred. We need mothers now more than ever.
It’s odd. We’ve suddenly realised how ‘key’ so many workers are: doctors, nurses, teachers, food suppliers, plumbers, train drivers, the police, and so on.