Job or not??

Again and again I see people assert that being a stay at home mum is a lifestyle choice, not a job. It only leaves me wondering why it can’t be both. As I see it, most jobs, careers, and workplaces are chosen with a degree of lifestyle in mind. You wouldn’t take a job that was incompatible with your lifestyle, and you would be more likely to want to work in a place which holds similar values to yourself and, hopefully, a place where you can be yourself and enjoy being there. Is that not a lifestyle choice? I fail to see why we need to draw stark distinctions between things which in truth are similar, related, or intertwined. I chose to be a stay at home mum, and I like it. I feel no regret. But I also acknowledge that it is work, a job. Like any job, it has ups and downs, good and bad bits. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like work, and sometimes it does. Believe me, I didn’t want to be awake at 2am this morning, but that’s  part of the job and part of the lifestyle.
I also feel that claiming motherhood, or being a stay at home mum, is not a job somehow devalues what we do. “It’s only a lifestyle” belittles it and overlooks the effort we put in. It might be a lifestyle, but there’s no mansion or pool or eternal sunshine; instead there are midnight feeds, dirty nappies, and tantrums.

Advertisements

I’m a full-fledged suburban housewife

Being a warm sunny morning, I took the kids out into the front yard to play this morning. I sat there on the step, half dressed (although fully decent), with messed up hair, watching the children play and waving to neighbours strolling past. A couple of the more familiar faces called a greeting or even paused for a moment to exchange pleasantries over the gate.

In stark contrast to the pedestrians, a rather fancy-looking car drove down the street looking completely out of place. As it passed, the four suited men inside caught my eye. I was ready with a friendly smile, but they looked at me as though I were an alien.

And it struck me suddenly that I was. Even the me of five years ago wouldn’t recognise the me of now! Five years ago, I dressed nicely and went off to work each day. I even wore suits for some jobs. If that me had driven past this me, she would have been perhaps a little pitiful and a little scornful. Imagine that, not only stuck home with the brats, but not even getting dressed properly before coming out into full view of the street! (I should mention here that the lady two doors down regularly sits in her front yard in her pyjamas; this is normal.)

It occurred to me how much I have changed, how little I expected such a change, and how much I actually like it. I had sort of assumed that me as a parent would still be, mostly, me. I didn’t even contemplate the ramifications of entering a whole new stereotype. I am now a woman who wears a tracksuit to take two kids to a shopping centre. And, oddly, I’m comfortable with that… for now!

Return to normality

For five weeks, Aidan was on leave from work, at home with us. But as of yesterday, he’s back with his nose to the grindstone, leaving me home with the kids again.

I was kind of dreading it; I’d gotten used to having his constant assistance around the house. He is, and always has been, an excellent housekeeper and father. So I thought being back to normality would be a pain.

But, for the last two days, I find myself coping extraordinarily well. I find that I do more, and more willingly, when I’m alone. I’ve washed dishes and clothes, I’ve taken the kids out, I’ve been shopping, I’ve baked and cooked, I’ve been more active and involved with the kids. And I’ve enjoyed it. Who knows how long it might last, but for the moment I like being a proper housewife again, doing it all myself. I’m even keeping on top of my studies – and it’s exam week for The Fall of the Roman Republic.

The only thing I’ve gotten worse at is drinking my tea. Once again, cups are left going cold, forgotten, as I’m distracted by something else I need to do!

The most amusing thing

I love parenting, I really do. There are all sorts of wonderful things about having kids. But I think my favourite thing, the most amusing thing, is the things I find myself saying, and the things I find myself listening to. Things which, out of context, would range from puzzling to absolutely mind boggling.

“Goat, get out of my wine glass!” I said this evening. Obviously I am required to speak to each toy as though it were sentient, rather than to Elspeth who really controls it. It worked, as Goat immediately got out of my wine glass and started playing on the table instead.

“Evie, stop eating the paddock!” cried Elspeth recently. One simply had to know that a matchbox was a pretend paddock for a toy sheep, and that Evelyn was chewing on it.

“The fish need another chocolate biscuit,” Elspeth tells us quite regularly. She’s referring to the algae biscuit we pop in the tank for the sucking catfish. She is very keen on feeding the fish!

There are more, almost daily, things I hear and say that make me laugh. Being a parent is awesome.

Some days just suck, and that’s all!

Mostly un-eaten weet-bix.

It’s only 10am. I’ve been awake since 5.30 though, so it seems later. And this morning, it seems like everything Elspeth does is calculated to piss me off:

I kept telling her not to go into the bedroom, because Aidan worked night shift and needs to sleep now – so what did she do? Went into the bedroom.

I asked her what she wanted for breakfast, she said weet-bix, so I got her weet-bix, and then she refused to eat them. 

I reminded her not to climb on things. Then she climbed on a chair, fell off, and hurt herself.

She even threw a tantrum over putting her underpants on, wanting a nappy instead.

She is becoming very wilful, opinionated, and stubborn. I’d like to say that I don’t know where she gets it from, but unfortunately she’s inherited that directly from me. I can see us clashing more and more as she gets older; we are two people who don’t like to back down! The only benefit I really have is that she still can’t open her own bedroom door, so sending her to her room is still effective. It works for both of us – she knows she’s stuck until she agrees to smile, and I get a little time to collect myself and calm down. Heaven help me the day she figures that door out!

I’m allowed to not cope

I am World’s Worst Mum today, and I’m okay with that.

Nobody is perfect, and nobody does everything right all the time.

So I’m comfortable with admitting that today, as well as having some wonderful fun with my children (like our Neil Diamond Dance Party in the living room), I’ve also cried and screamed at them. I’ve been angry and frustrated, I’ve struggled with them and with my temper.

I should be quite accustomed to telling somebody the same thing twenty times a day only to have them forget it just as frequently. I am, after all, married. Oh, and I’ve got kids. But today it is getting to me, largely because the thing I have needed to say over and over is, “Do your poo in the toilet, not in your underpants.” I’ve asked her, I’ve told her, I’ve begged her, I’ve bribed her.

Once I got to reward her. I even made up a song, to the tune of ‘Sex on the Beach’:Ellie did poo in the loo, then she got some chocolate! Poo in the loo, it made her mummy happy!

And of course I’m not just saying it over and over, I’m also cleaning the damn underpants over and over. That is a major contributor to the frustration. I don’t know if you’ve had to clean poopy underpants six times in as many hours, but it gets old fast. Worse, perhaps, is the knowledge that if she’s smearing her undies, she almost certainly does need to go properly, but she just won’t!

So yeah. I’m not really coping very well. I am going batshit crazy. But it’s just one day, and tomorrow cannot possibly be worse. Right?

Sleep

For the last week or so, Evelyn has been sleeping through the night without making a peep. Hooray! However she has also been waking up at 5.45am, which I regard as still blackest night, a totally unacceptable time to get up!

So last night I tried something different.

Rather than put her to bed at 7.30 and leave her there until morning, I actually got her up at around 10pm, for an hour or so. I fed her and changed her during that hour, then put her back to bed.

And this morning she slept that extra hour, until 6.45.

Success! Triumph! Whilst I don’t think it’s officially morning until 7am, I think this was close enough.