Being a ‘Stay at home Mum’ is hard. There’s no doubt about it, the challenges are greater than any I have personally experienced during gainful employment. It might have felt a bit like it at times, (People Management. Urgh.) but I never ACTUALLY had to wipe anyone’s arse, for starters. Poo aside, some days are really tough. Take today, for instance. Rose is rebelling against going to preschool tomorrow the best way she knows how: being stroppy. And Willow is teething. Hardcore beacon-red-bum-cheeks teething. And nap avoiding alongside it. Ouch. There have been bucketfuls of tears and a handful of tantrums in our usually-serene household this afternoon and I haven’t even joined in. Yet.
Some days I literally feel like all I’ve done is fed them both, cleaned up after their meal and then they want feeding again and then they want a change of clothes and then they want a snack and then it’s bath time and then they’ve spilled something down themselves and then and then and then… You get the idea. Basically I’m a cleaner and a cook. However, the clue is there in the name: I still got to stay at home today (well, we went to the library this morning but that wasn’t too taxing) and I still got to be a Mum, spending my time looking after my beautiful children.
The things is, as hard as it is, the perks make up for it all. Some days, we don’t bother getting dressed. Some days, we sleep in til 9am, play in the garden in the sunshine and eat chicken nuggets and chocolate for lunch. Some days, we put Willow down for her nap and we watch a Disney film, snuggled up on the sofa with a bowl of strawberries to share. I don’t know many people who get to do that at work. Actually, we used to have fish ‘n’ chip Fridays and I ate chocolate on an almost-daily basis, but I never went to work in my pyjamas and there was definitely no Disney involved.
And, here’s the biggest perk of all: I. Don’t. Have. To. Leave. Them. When I went back to part time work as Rose turned one, it was heart-wrenching. Absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder and our limited time together became all the more special, but it was horrible to leave her – and I didn’t even have to do the leg-clinging drop-offs either, that was Tom’s domain.
Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving Rose at preschool for her two hour settling-in session. And on Saturday, I’m leaving Willow with Rose’s absolutely superb former childminder for a day, while we take Rose to her first ever Moto GP. Even though I know Rose is only at preschool for two hours tomorrow, and when she goes ‘properly’ the following week it’ll only ever be for a maximum of six hours a day, two and a half days per week, I’m dreading it. And Willow is literally at Donna’s for ONE DAY this weekend. And it’s not like I’m being sent to jail for that one day either, the Moto GP will be really fun, I’ve got a feeling Rose is going to love it and Willow will have such a good time playing with the other gorgeous kiddies. But still, it will hurt, because being separated from your children is painful. It doesn’t matter how long for, it doesn’t matter why, it still hurts.
And that is why I so feel for my working Mum friends – Dads too, I don’t mean to be sexist, but I do think it’s Mums who feel ‘the pull’ more than Dads, the ‘please don’t leave me’ tug of your child on your heart strings – and that’s also why I try not to moan about being at home. Sure, it’s all relative: I don’t get to wee by myself very often, or make a cup of tea without tiny hands clawing at my calves, or have uninterrupted adult conversations, but even the pinch of razor-sharp baby fingernails fish-hooking my lip is nothing compared to the pain of leaving your kids. You Mums (and Dads) are warriors. Slightly less stained, better turned-out, non-vomit-aroma’d-Warriors, and I admire you all so, so much.