Editor’s note: this post first appeared on August 15th, 2015. It’s pertinent today as I bid farewell to my daughters tomorrow. They are off on holiday to the Bahamas with their father for his brother’s wedding. I will miss them like crazy.
“If you work in a digital media role you never escape the office. I could quite easily do all my work on my smartphone and / or tablet. I certainly did when I started Sophie’s Voice as It Took Two 18 months ago.
Now I almost always do a little work in bed as my family slumbers away next to me. Today, I’m thinking Instagram – yesterday I wrote two posts – both scheduled for next week. It’s insane really but also a reality for lots of people.
Especially women, I’m afraid. Typically we’re the primary care givers in any domestic environment. The yoke of social expectation is horrendously hard to shake off.
I’m a stay at home mum. I’m also a writer, digital marketing and social media consultant and student. That’s a lot of shit going on. I’m not exceptional either – I can name countless other women (all friends) who are either in the same boat or who work and struggle with childcare. They struggle to get from the school gates to work on time. They struggle to get from work to the kids’ pick up on time. They struggle to find the energy to help with homework, cook a meal and then – possibly – get back to work after dinner.
If I put that in the job description for ‘mother’, you wouldn’t apply. I get paid fuck all, frankly. I’m lucky that I’m subsidised if I have a bad month. If one of my little darlings is ill, I am called upon – I suppose that I should be flattered that it’s by them – and I still get up in the nights, if required.
The feeling of being depended upon to the extent where you have little or no personal freedom – where every choice involves considering others first – is, to me, oppressive.
For many women it’s their raison d’être. I’m happy for them but I couldn’t care less. I have to think about myself and – before that (of course, as always) – my children. I don’t want them to see me as Susie Homemaker. I want them to have an immediate role model who is dynamic, capable, smart, confident and funny. I can’t be any of those things without the stimuli offered by all the things I do – that aren’t parenting.
I tried being a ‘good mother’ – it didn’t stick. Because it didn’t fit. It was too small for me. And too big. After being a competitive over achiever for years, I discovered something that I am truly shit at. Utterly crap. I couldn’t stop and enjoy it. I got wrapped up in how boring, mundane and stultifying it all is.
Seriously, I started to find things that reminded me that I have a brain. I had 2 years to absorb all the news about the global economic downturn. Ask me anything about it – I was saying ‘Grexit’ 3 years ago.
Of course, I never got to show off my knowledge of current affairs – who wants to talk to a housewife at a party? We’re dowdy little doormats. Each and every one… Except we’re not. I have plenty of friends who are stay at home mums. They’re as educated as I am. As funny. As informed. Much more charming. And, yes, often just as overlooked as I. The difference between them and I is that they’re happy doing their job – and usually they’re good at it.
I’m happy doing my many jobs – because I’m good at them. My friends who work and struggle to pick up their kids are happy – because they’re good at it. Or – and here’s the kicker – we’re as good as anyone can be expected to be. We all fuck up sometimes. We all have great days too.
So I’m not going to feel guilty that I occasionally look at my phone when I take my kids to the park. They’ll cope as they merrily ignore me anyway.
What I’m going to do is be proud of the fact that I can show my children a happy me – the best me that I can be. At the moment. Who knows what the future will bring?
And look – I was going to pin a few bits and bobs. Instead I’ve written a piece that’s pretty good. Okay, that probably counts as evidence of my rather unattractive capacity for workaholism but it makes me content – and that makes everyone else calm and comfortable.
We’re not always a happy family but we’d be miserable if I had nothing to do all day but worship my offspring.
Now I’m finished, I think I’ll read Vogue. Pinterest sounds a lot like work.
Pictured is my eldest daughter ‘working like Mummy’.”