Last week Laney over at Crash Test Mummy posted Part 1 of the Truth About Being a SAHM. Thinking back to when I was a stay at home mum, I could absolutely relate to every single point Laney listed. And if I’m honest, the things in that list were what drove me back to work.
We all have these preconceived notions of what being a mother is like. I thought I was going to love being a stay at home mum. The stay at home mums I knew played tennis and went out to lunch. Heck yeah I could be a stay at home mum! What didn’t compute with me was that the stay at home mums I knew had kids all in school! So when this tiny baby came home with me, and cried and cried, and wouldn’t sleep, and pooped and peed everywhere and spat up milk, I wondered what I had got myself in to.
I stayed home for almost 18 months, then my husband and I decided that if I could find a couple of days a week work, we’d put Nick in daycare and I’d get the break I wanted while also making a little extra money and feeling like I was “contributing” again.
A couple of days turned into 3, turned into 4, and is now 5. And my little man isn’t even in school yet. This was never my intention. And with that, here are a few truths I’ve found about being a working mum.
-Dropping your child at kindy to go to work rips at your heart. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, how great his kindy is, how happy he is to go, you still wish you weren’t doing it.
-Leaving home before your child is awake, not getting a cuddle, kiss, morning smiles makes the day longer and harder to get through.
-Knowing your child is at kindy for 9 or 10 hours, often the first one there, often the last one picked up, breaks your heart in a million pieces.
-Having to call in sick because your child is sick is terrifying. And it shouldn’t be. But we all know those bosses who “don’t get it.”
-When it’s Christmas holidays, and your husband is off work for 3 weeks and you still have to work because you’re casual and no work = no pay, it really sucks.
-It also really sucks when you work any part of the weekend and as you are getting ready for work, the husband and son are getting ready for Dreamworld.
-The more you earn, the more you spend. I often wonder how we got by those first 18 months, but we did. Now we are making twice as much as we were then, and barely still getting by. But we also have a new car, a new couch, a new fridge, a new iMac and a big holiday coming up….I think I see the error of our ways!
-The mums and kids you met at playgroup and saw at least once a week, every week, who became your best friends, your child’s best friends, are now people you just hope you get to catch up with once every few weeks and you miss out on all the regular catchups they have.
-The time you do have as a family is so precious, and goes so quickly. It is also never enough.
-You worry that your kids will be grown up before you know it, and you missed most of it, because you were at work.
-You justify going to work because you need the money, you like the lifestyle it affords you, you don’t want to be out of the workforce too long because it would be harder to get back in, you have to take the work while it’s there because jobs are scarce (this much is true).
The way I see it, mums can’t win. There will always be someone who thinks you should be working, someone who thinks you should be staying at home, someone who thinks you’re doing it all wrong. If we are working, we will wish we were staying at home, if we were staying at home, we (most of us) will wish we had just a day or two reprieve from being “mum”.
I learned years ago to not give a damn what anyone else thought. Our family is our business, the way we spend our time, raise our children, manage our finances and prioritize our lifestyle, is our business. We are not abusive or neglectful. Our son is fed, clothed, safe, confident, loved beyond words.
And no matter if we are staying home or working, sooner rather than later, our kids will be grown up. And I suppose by then there’ll be other things to feel guilty about. The important thing to remember is that we are all doing our best, and really, that’s all anyone can ask.