With a vast majority of families struggling to get by living on two full time wages, I should feel lucky that I have been able to be a stay at home mum for the last 13 months, but I don’t. I feel angry, annoyed and guilty.
There is a massive stigma attached to stay at home mothers. It seems that husbands, mother-in-law’s, friends, everyone society believes we sleep in, sip cocktails, play games all day with the kids and sitting on facebook doing nothing… yeah right, we wish!
If we have the chance to sleep in it is because we were awake from 1am to 5am with a teething toddler writhing in pain and hard to settle. If we had the chance to sip cocktails it will have to be a mocktail on our once a month date night because we’re still breastfeeding so alcohol is out of the question. That and the fear of being judged for drinking anything remotely alcoholic when you have children because apparently even just an occasional wine with lunch labels you as an irresponsible parent! If we had the chance to play games with the kids it is playing the same game over and over and over and over and over, you get the idea right? Yep, not so fun. As for sitting on Facebook all day and doing nothing, well… that is almost close to accurate.
Ok yes, so as a SAHM I may be on Facebook more often than not, and yes there are toys everywhere when people come to visit and when the husband comes home from work. Yes, there may still be washing in the machine and the dishes have not been unloaded from the dishwasher and yes, the groceries have only been half put away with the pantry bags left on the bench next to today’s breakfast dishes.
So you may think to yourself ‘She doesn’t work. Yes she has to look after her kids but no housework gets done, and she doesn’t work. Oh and she doesn’t work. So what does she DO all day?’
Well my friends, LIFE. Life is what we do all day.
Despite not earning an income to validate our status of ‘working’ we do in fact work. From sun up to sun down and throughout the night we are at the beck and call of 1, 2, 3 or more little humans who require our undivided attention. We pee with an audience and eat whatever leftovers we can find as we dash off to pull the baby away from switches or the toddler from climbing into the washing machine. We start doing something productive but because our eyes were taken off the kids for a minute too long there is a bumped head, scraped knee and a wailing toddler. The newborn is screaming so loud from hunger because she cannot wait the 5 minutes to sort the toddler out that the neighbours are knocking on the door to check if everything is ok. That productive thing we were about to do? Yep forget about that. So any moment we have the chance to stop and check in with our friends and family on facebook or just close our eyes and take a breath we will. When the children are eating or napping are great opportunities to do this before we have to get up and continue with the chaos.
Does this sound about right ladies?
And this brings me to what makes me angry, annoyed and guilty about being a SAHM.
I do not earn an income to validate to the world that what I do is work (because apparently you need to earn money to call anything ‘work’), but I bust my ass to bring up a healthy, happy, respectful and confident child. Can you believe there are mums who do all this AND work, superwomen right? Some days are better than others and I can get the household chores done but there are many more days where I am not so lucky thanks to teething, sickness, uninvited guests popping in, attitude (yes, 13 month old children can have major attitude when they are not getting their own way despite not being able to talk), tantrums and wonder weeks.
Because I followed the advice of those inspirational quotes on Facebook, Pinterest and believe it or not everyone else (hypocrites), I somehow took away that there is one thing I could use to prove my worth as a SAHM – Housework. Most days housework takes a back seat so I can be a good mother. By society’s standards doing housework is the one thing I have to prove that not working and putting our family through financial stress living each week to the dollar is what makes me a good SAHM, not the way I raise my child. Apparently by skipping housework every now and then to tend to my little one makes me a bad mother and a bad housewife.
There are single mums. There are mums with a partner who works away from home for long periods of time. There are working mums* or the mums with 3 or more kids. There are so many different ‘SAHM’ situations, they just have different wrapping paper. We are all judged on what we do all day, in other words ‘how much housework we do compared to what people do for paid work’, like somehow we are not as important in our contribution to society.
World if you are listening, I am here to tell you…
Stay at home mothers DO work. Our individual situations are different but our end result is the same – To bring up healthy, happy, respectful, well rounded and confident children. Whether or not the housework gets done should not define our status of a good stay at home mother or a good housewife for that matter, it is our children that will be the shining example of all our hard work.
So lay off on the judging of the dishes in my sink or the washing pile on my lounge. I’ll get to it in my own time, right now I am enjoying watching my children learn and grow… and one day take over your job.
* Whilst the working mum isn’t a SAHM I feel they need the same recognition I am asking from the world as they do it all AND work too. Good job ladies.