The life of a Stay at Home Mammy is one, as I learn more and more each day, that can be isolating, exhausting, fulfilling and amazing all at the same time. Each evening, as I drag myself into bed usually nursing a sore head and aching all over, my mind races when it should be switching off; thinking of everything I didn’t manage to accomplish in the long day just passed even though I never stopped. Some days I am desperate for this moment, placing my head upon the pillow and actually being able to pull the duvet higher than just my waist soaking up however much or little sleep my baby will permit that evening, yet when the time comes, more often than not, I find myself drowning beneath the weight of responsibilities, responsibilities that are mine and mine alone.
My baby at present doesn’t yet eat solids, he doesn’t talk or crawl, walk or make his own mess, yet I end every day feeling like I have done a good, hard shift at a full-time job even if I complete my duties permitted by the role in my pyjamas and dressing gown and I sometimes wonder how the hell I am going to cope when he is doing those things.
So why is it I stumble on my words or feel embarrassed when someone asks me ‘So, what do you do?’
I want to list off every single task I complete in a day in great detail from waking up and opening the blinds and windows, making the beds, feeding my baby, changing his nappy, doing last night’s dishes, setting washing away, pumping my boobs, folding clothes, entertaining my baby, feeding him again, another nappy and change of clothes for us both as well as cleaning the rug as there’s wee everywhere, going for a four mile up hill walk just to get him to sleep, another feed, hoovering, cleaning floors and dusting (usually with him on my hip or in his carrier, singing to him as I hang up the washing, playtime, another change for us both as there’s now poo everywhere, rocking and reassuring through the twentieth crying episode of the day, trying to help with teething pain, going for the second four mile walk and hoping it will result in an afternoon nap, another feed, another nappy change, spot of tidying, throw some bleach in the toilets and baby wipe the bathroom, playtime, pumping, more crying, sick on the play-mat which is back in the wash (again), bath-time for baby, talc, lotion, tantrum, nappy, onsie, playtime, trying to hold off bedtime as it’s only five o’clock, walking around the house and caving, boob to sleep.
Little breather, strong coffee and baby is awake so it’s back to bed for more boobing.
Dishes put away, tea on, ironing, bins out, maybe a bath? Way too much effort to run one so shower it is and I will brush my hair tomorrow maybe, or the day after. Come downstairs, plump the sofa cushions, spray everything down, wipe the drool up off everything, eat tea, pump some milk, watch something, read, blog or stare into space for an hour, put Carl’s tea on, wait for him to get home, usually cry on him, sit together talking for a while, pump, bed.
Then it’s up and down feeding and changing all night until it’s time to get up and do it all again.
I want to say that those are just some of the physical aspects of a typical day but the mental load of the job is even bigger.
There’s the crying that won’t subside which, as a Mother is a sound to drown out all sounds making it sometimes exhausting to listen to, the constant wondering if you’re doing a good enough job, trying to ensure that I remember to replace the milk or the bread, the toilet roll or the toothpaste, the nappies, the baby wipes and writing the shopping list for the next shop. Then there’s getting the shopping done and managing to get it out away before you have to pick up baby, trying to work out what to make for meals and when to prep the food.
There’s so many lists: things that need replacing, jobs that need doing, baby clothes that need sorting, things piling up I need to sell or give away, issues in the house that need taking care off. Sometimes I even list self-care practices I want to stick to daily despite almost never ticking them off.
All the dates to remember and write in the calendar- Doctor appointments, Carl’s shifts, plans, Kaiber’s weekly check, birthdays, bill due dates, baby clinic, the baby and breastfeeding group times and locations that I never attend but always intend to.
But the thing is, I expect people to reply with the old ‘yes, well I do all that and hold down a job’.
I understand why calling yourself a Stay at Home Parent often gets that look, you know the one- subtle raising of eyebrows and pursed lip and I get it, I really do. I’ve been aware of the stereotype long before I became a Mother myself and of course there are people who do live up to it.
Just like any stereotype, the people that fit it do exist, hence why it exists in the first place but often, those people are very few and far between and that applies to the Women who choose to be a Full-Time Parent as a Career choice. There’s nothing shameful about making this decision whether it was a difficult or easy one to make nor does it mean she has gone back on herself in life, far from it. From the second our children take their first breath on earth we, as parents, know what is right for our own babies regarding all decisions and this is no different.
See, the thing is, when you look after a baby all day every day as your job, the normal working regulations do not apply. The hours put into raising a child are not tracked, you don’t sign in and sign out.. ever. It’s a 24/7 position with no holiday allowance or sick pay and no opportunities for promotion. You are already in the highest position by default and you are paid in unconventional ways; the knowledge that you are nurturing, raising and putting your everything, your every second into raising this little person who you hope will grow to be exceptional in whatever they choose to do.
By staying at home with my boy, I hope to be around not only to plant the seeds in his little heart and mind but to be the one to water them and watch them grow.
Every ounce of my time and energy goes into looking after my child, my Partner and our home and I am lucky to have the opportunity to be present and do all the things I want to do for them. As I write this actually, I find myself wondering why I don’t have the confidence to defend what I do every day and speak of it with pride when asked because what I do is special and I stand by it no matter how society perceives those who give our lives to our children.
I have always had strong views on how I want to raise the little people I contribute to this world, the way I wish for them to act and talk, my old-fashioned enthusiasm for classic outdoor play and exploration no matter the weather, growing up on imagination instead of computer screens and I don’t want to hand the reins over to other people whilst I go and work a 9-5, wondering why I am not with my children.
That being said, I do have the up most admiration for working Mothers, I truly do, mainly because I couldn’t do it myself. On the roughest days I’ve actually been known to say to Carl “imagine if I worked too! How would I get anything done? I barely manage as it is” and it’s so true. I barely get a second to myself never mind spending days out of the house, I don’t know how working Mam’s do it but I do know that they must be a different kind of extraordinary.
Looking after a baby is full on, it’s demanding and I have already sacrificed so much of myself to do so but I know it will get easier. As the years go on I will have less and less to do and I have always promised myself and Carl that the moment I feel it is not beneficial for me to Stay at Home, I will be looking to get out there and do something for myself, a career in something I have always thought about doing maybe, or even just a little shop job- time away, for me as well as bringing home some extra money and giving back to Carl and setting a good impression and example to my children as they get older.
But for the meanwhile, I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing and that is enough for me.
I get to be there for the good, bad and ugly.
I will be present for all the firsts, the milestones, the achievements and the journey we go on to get to them.
I get the opportunity to give all of myself to my boy and fill his every day with fun and laughter.
I will wake him with a smile each morning and be there each night to read a story and tuck him in.
I have the best job in the world and I am so much more than the stereotype.