According to my good friend Cath Kidston, who felt the need to email me with an announcement this morning, it is pay day today. Except there is no ‘pay day’ for me anymore. It’s been just over a month since I became a ‘stay at home Mum’ and as that reality has started to sink in I have to say it’s been a weirdly emotional four weeks.
I’ve loved spending time with my girls but there have been times where I would have quite happily paid money/chopped off a limb to be able to leg it out of the front door to work (so I’d probably only consider lopping off an arm). In grown-up clothes. And heels. On my own. With nicely coiffed hair and painted nails. To talk to adults and not have to wipe up anyone’s poo, bogeys or mushed up bananas.
I met a close friend for a week night dinner last week and she looked surprised as I climbed out of my car in heels and a ‘going out’ top. I had dressed for a party because that is what it feels like to leave the house by yourself, after dark, to eat a delicious meal with only one other adult present. You see, when you are a ‘stay at home’ parent you eat 99% of your meals one-handed to a chorus of “Mummy I want some of yours! Mummy can we watch CBeebies? Mummy why is Willow spitting? Doesn’t she know the rules?” In response you hear yourself shouting “No! Sit down! I said that’s enough ketchup! No! Babies can’t eat pork pie or wine gums!!” and realise you’ve barely tasted your own food, but it’s ok because once they’re asleep you’ll celebrate by scoffing whatever sugar-filled delights you can lay your desperate hands on and then wonder why you’ve not lost the baby weight yet. Err, because it’s cake weight now, muppet.
Our baby is a really, really good one. She still wakes once a night, sometimes even twice, but she’s a bloody diamond in the day time. She’s calm, content and smiley, even when she’s nap avoiding like a champion. And thank goodness she is, because her sister is REALLY pushing my buttons at the moment. It’s like I designed a teeny person with the perfect balance of irritating qualities to push me right to the edge. Rose is almost three. She’s stubborn, ignorant, loud, feisty and too clever for her own good. She’s also wonderful, brave, funny and beautiful, but I find it difficult to recognise those things when she’s asking me “Why??” for the fourteen thousandth time that day. She’s developed this love of asking me questions she already knows the answer to and it’s so annoying. The other day I asked her if she liked making Mummy cross and she replied “Yep! Hahahahaha!!” Lovely.
Alongside the onset of threenagerdom, I’ve had to wrap my head around no longer having a job. I would still currently be on maternity leave (Willow is 8 months old and I was taking a year off) but knowing I don’t have a job to return to anymore (I was made redundant) is just strange. I’m thrilled to bits that I get to spend more time with my daughters while they are so small, I know how fast time flies once you’re watching a child grow up, and I’m so grateful to my other half that he’s happy to support our family while I stay home, but it’s been harder than I thought it would be to come to terms with it.
It probably doesn’t sound like something a person should even have to ‘come to terms with’, and you’re probably rolling your eyes right now and wondering what on earth the big issue is, so let me try and explain. To start with, I don’t have my own money anymore. This shouldn’t matter, but when it came to Daddy T’s birthday last week I felt awkward buying him a gift. Normally I would splurge, it’s only once a year after all, but I found myself being careful in case he wondered why I’d wasted money. I almost wrote ‘his money’ then, but he’s told me off for that already. He also tells me regularly that I’m doing the hardest job by far. He’s bloody brilliant, very understanding, generous, kind and incredibly patient (with me, but not so much with the girls – I probably use up all of his patience right now!!) For these reasons and many more, I can’t wait to marry him next May.
The money isn’t the only thing. I don’t really have an identity outside of our home anymore. I’m a Mum. I’m ‘Rose & Willow’s Mum’. I’m ‘Mummy’. Or ‘Muuuuuuuuuummmyyyy!!’ when a shitty backside needs wiping. I’m not a ‘Performance & Delivery Manager’ anymore. When people ask what I do, I talk about raising my children. I’m proud of it, I really am, but it is ‘all’ I do which means my only achievements will be ones relating to the children for the foreseeable future. This is what I have struggled with the most. So much so that I stressed myself out considering Avon and Forever Living as a sideline. I didn’t even have time to look at their shiny, tempting brochures so I certainly don’t have time to sell the damn stuff right now. Unfortunately it took me two weeks to realise that and I ended up crying on and off for two days last week because I so badly wanted to be able to bring some money in, to make a financial contribution to our home, that I got myself in a right state about it all.
The thing is, I’ve had a job since I was 11. I moved away to University aged 18 and I bought my first property just after I graduated, aged 21. I’m used to being independent. Now I’m relying on someone else to pay my way, to keep a roof over my head, to clothe and feed me. And it’s scary sometimes, but I’m starting to accept it now – mostly because it’s occurred to me that it is a gift, the most special one I’ve ever received, actually. I’ve been given the gift of time with my girls, the gift of having someone to take care of me for a while, the gift of a loving partner who understands how hard it is to raise children 24/7. And when it comes to achievements I’ll just have to find other ways to make things happen for myself. I’ve made some pretty good birthday cards this year and even a couple of cute handmade gifts, and I’m delighted when anyone reads, likes or shares my blog, so all is definitely not lost in the personal pride stakes. Hey, I made it round Aldi with two children and a massive shopping list this morning, I deserve a ruddy medal. And I’m so totally, overwhelmingly proud of our girls. Even if one of them insists on seeing me at 2am and the other asks me why she has to put shoes on to leave the house. Sigh.