Being a stay at home parent is both important and not. To Syd I am the most important person in the world. To the world I am an insignificant non-financially-contributing dullard. To me I am somewhere in between.
I love my toddler. But I have weeks where I find it hard to cope with the small-ness of my domain. I tire of it being my job to make sure there is bread in the bread bin, or clean pants in the drawer. I cannot always summon up enthusiasm for the daily ‘what to make for dinner’ trip to the shops.
I am not even always good at the Mum bit. I have days where we draw and go to the park, and do puzzles and play with stickers and everything is lovely. I have days where I do the above, but resent it as I did it all the day before too. I have days where I let the telly do too much of my job while I plod about on twitter, desperate for adult company. Overall I do OK, but I am not perfect at all.
I usually put my own needs last. I am happy for my other half to have lie-ins, nights out and time for hobbies as he works hard all week, and I do not resent it even a tiny bit, but I rarely take time out for myself. When I do- I feel guilty, like I don’t deserve it as I have been on the doing nothing all week anyway. But I haven’t been doing nothing, looking after a toddler is hard work, not to mention the jobs I do in the caring for the bigger two as well, and I do deserve some time to myself, so why am I so rubbish at taking it? I rarely get to watch a film, I am trying harder with reading books, I haven’t had a night out for almost 2 months. I wonder why it is that even taking half an hour for a bath can make me feel guilty?
Is it because deep down even I don’t value being a stay at home mum highly enough? I should, and certainly I rant about others not giving the role the respect it is due, but I clearly don’t place proper value on it myself or I would see that I am entitled to a little time off- a tea break, a lunch break or a days holiday. I guess the fact that I live in a world where we so often are dismissed as ‘just a mum’, has resulted in part of my brain believing that it isn’t enough. I MUST stop feeling like that. It is among the MOST important things you can do with your time. It is NOT time off, it is NOT an easy option. It is a hard but rewarding job, with really long hours and really shit pay.
Being a Mum is a monotonous, joy-filled, exhausting, beautiful, busy, funny, restrictive yet all-encompassing labour of love. I mostly love it, but labour it is, and slave labour at that, an unpaid skivvy to a tiny and remarkable tyrant! And I am worn out by it. This is both my favourite age, and my least favourite. I know from my older two that the actual physical job of parenting gets easier as they grow. They sleep, they don’t attempt to throw themselves off a furniture every 5 minutes, they eat their food by themselves, but they don’t fit in my lap the same way, they don’t snuggle up to me to sleep, they don’t talk cute toddler gibberish. They are just as precious but far more separate.
I look forward to re-gaining some freedom, but I will miss these baby/toddler days when they are gone. I must also remember that sometimes it takes a little distance to appreciate what you have, an afternoon away from Syd sees me missing him hugely and scurrying home for a squeeze. I mustn’t look on it as skiving, or feel guilty for needing a break, but look upon it as a chance to refuel myself ready to do some more enthusiastic parenting on my return. And most importantly I must respect the value of what I do.