That’s me. Not a #mumboss, not a #mumpreneur, not even a working mum these days, or at least not of the kind that earns actual money for the work I do, because let’s be honest, looking after children is WORK. I live in South London with the “husband”, our two children aged 1 and 3, and enjoy frequent visits from our rather wonderful extended family. I am very ordinary and rather pleased about it.
I used to be a teacher and stress endlessly about not doing anything well because there were not enough hours in the day. A few weeks ago I walked out of the school gates for the last time and for now I am a Stay-At-Home-Mum (for what it’s worth, I hate the term, but what else do I call myself? Full-time mum? But aren’t we all full-time mums? I mean, it’s not like the minute you walk in the office you stop being a mum, is it? Any (polite) contributions gratefully received.) It’s not what I imagined I would be, and I’m finding it difficult to reconcile in my head – the idea that there is going to be no money that I have earned making its way into our bank account makes me feel a little cold and uncomfortable, and the question of “Who am I?” sends me spinning. Ever present around my edges is also the fear that I’ll feel the need to justify my position in this world that so over-values the world of work, and under-values the importance of home.
Now, as always, when I’m spending my days with the children, one of my favourite things to do is to take them outside. Admittedly this is partly because then there is less mess to clean up – want to spit out your half-chewed banana? Crack on. I’m sure the rats and foxes will love you for it. Anyway, I live in a leafy part of South London, one of the capital’s nappy valleys, and we are fortunate enough to live close to several parks offering safe spaces where the kids can wander, feed the ducks (pigeons) and enjoy the occasional (daily) packet of PomBears. Now that the summer is coming, I am
relieved but slightly bored excited by the prospect of twice daily outings. Winter is so grim, and that time between nap and tea time can drag so slowly – I can’t be the only one who has checked the time on three different clocks convinced that the batteries must have run dead on the first two, only to have that crushing blow delivered to your heart when you realise that no, that really is the time. In the summer however, that time between the nap and tea is a perfect window for a scoot down the street to the shop, or a wander round the garden which makes the afternoon shift a little more bearable. Unless it’s raining. Then we’re screwed. Getting out of the house in the rain in summer is just as “involved” as getting out of the house in the cold in winter. Except now the weather is milder so although your waterproof mum-coat shelters you from the rain, you’ll still be a bit damp and steamy from the greenhouse effect going on underneath it’s impermeable surface.
Now that I am going to be making twice daily trips to a park and not going out to work I know that the biggest challenge I am going to face is to not let resentment take hold of me. The “husband” is usually out of the house before the children wake up, and he arrives home as they are getting out of the bath, so during the week I am THE parent. This used to weigh heavily on me, especially on the evenings when the “husband” would stay out after work with colleagues or with business contacts. I know that these nights out are not the raucous, uninhibited, tension-relieving release that he might enjoy with his friends, but the fact that he did not HAVE to come home for bath and bed time, that he COULD just text at 7.30pm and say “I’m not going to make it home”, used to make me
want to chop his balls off and wear them as a necklace feel trapped and resentful that I did not enjoy this freedom, especially as he didn’t seem to appreciate the significance of it. Nowadays, three-and-a-half-years and two children deep into parenting, I can’t actually remember what it feels like to blithely call home to say “See you tomorrow” so solo bathtimes no longer make me feel anything other than tired.
The danger ground for resentment now is weekends as there is always the conflict between spending enough time together as a family but making some time for ourselves both separately and as a couple. This is especially true now that I’m parenting all week as the devil on my shoulder keeps whispering “When is my weekend, then? Huh? When do I get a change of scenery? This Saturday and Sunday shizz is exactly the same as all the other days of the week…” I have to keep bashing him (the Devil, not the “husband”) on the head and telling him to bog off, which takes mental discipline and energy that I don’t always have. Especially when he wants to play golf. I have no more polite words on this matter.
On those rare days when we get a break from the kids together, one of my favourite things to do is to go for breakfast with the “husband”, read a newspaper, and show him things that have caught my attention or imagination. The temptation can be to try and cram in lots of errands because “We’ll get them done quicker without the kids,” but actually, I have the best time when I slow down and let life pass me by for a few hours.
Despite really appreciating these slower moments (like a man in a desert appreciates a slightly damp patch in the sand, picking each grain of sand up and licking it dry, desperate and a bit gritty because you know there is never going to be enough), there are still things that light the fire in my belly. The sweeping changes being made across education by clueless politicians legacy-hunting makes my mouth run away with me, and I have a tendency to get a bit ranty. Improving the life chances of the children from disadvantaged backgrounds was the fuel that kept my teaching flame alight for twelve years, and while I have left the classroom behind, it is still something that I speak about with fervour. I hope that as I figure out the unsettling world of self-employment, I can discover ways to indulge these passions, even if not on a daily basis.
Day-to-day now is evolving it’s own routine. The Eldest is still in nursery two days per week (one of which is now free, thank dog) which gives me a break from the frenetic spinning that seems to accompany keeping two small people alive for the rest of the week. I’ll spend most evenings this week researching my options and ideas I have to earn some cash, and perhaps next weekend I’ll get some time to go to yoga. It’s not ideal, but that’s just the way it has to be these days, for now, and we’re getting used to saying that it’s ok.
SO that’s it. Me – The Ordinary Mum – nothing ground-breaking, but I still feel like I’m “doing shit”, like raising the next generation or something. What “kind” of mum are you? Fancy answering some questions, or writing a guest post? Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org , DM me on IG, or send me a PM (or a public message, if you’re so inclined) on FB.