I am a stay at home mum. A blessing, a privilege and a nightmare. From the outside our world seems simple, lavish even. Coffee with girlfriends, free time to bake and create food masterpieces, an immaculate home and no stress because I don’t have a boss to answer to. But the reality isn’t anywhere near as romantic. If only it were as romantic as it sounds, it’s more like mixing a tornado with a sleep deprived train wreck. I swing from being utterly exhausted, so tired I can’t think or even see straight at times, to in the next moment feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for having the ability to be there with my babies for all their big and small moments.
The romance of my day comes more in the form of when my tea is actually consumed hot, or at least tepid. When I eat my own meal instead of either sharing mine with the kids or picking at their left overs. Capturing a moment in time when two siblings are playing together with such love and joyfulness. Managing to have all three kids asleep at the same time. Watching Moana for the 50th time with my babes snuggled in close (although never seeing it in full). It’s all about those small wins in my day.
Maybe it’s hard for us to say it like it is, for fear of being judged as diva mums with first world problems or worse still, crappy mums who are ungrateful for their gift to stay home. But I’m putting it out there… these feelings are real and I’m learning that we can’t be all or nothing. We can’t love everything about one thing with no resistance or fears. There has to be space for that balance. I’m also learning – I’m not the only one who feels like this. But this here is the reality of it for me.
The inescapable feeling of being ‘done with it all’ after a 15 hour day. Knowing you are emotionally and physically past the point of caring or being able to move forward, but just having to keep on keeping on. Sitting on your toddlers bed, patting their bottom while they fidget and dart their eyes around the room, pondering if you leave will they rest or will all this settling against their (and your) will be wasted. The tears sometimes flow, I’m not sure if it is the exhaustion or if I feel defeated… most likely a cocktail of both.
Having moments when I feel like being a stay at home mum isn’t good enough, despite every fibre of my being knowing that this is the most important job I could ever have. Raising and being present as our children grow is my calling, this is my place to be. But there are days when it doesn’t feel enough, or quite as important in comparison to a ‘real’ job. Like being dictated by a 9-5 grind or a pay check that actually exists( as opposed to your pay being your contribution to the family as a stay at home mum) somehow makes me more valuable in society. Wondering how the most important thing I will ever do in my life can somehow be belittled by expectation and pressure form society.
Wishing that despite being home for most hours in the day, I could find an hour just to myself. An hour in which I could choose to do whatever I like without interruption or guilt that I should be doing something else. Like maybe watching Ellen or ordering those photos I’ve been meaning to get framed, the basket of two weeks plus of ironing. Getting to open the sealed box on the exercise DVD I bought two months ago. Painting my toenails and giving some much needed TLC to my tired, dry and crusty feet. Testing out the new dairy and gluten free kids recipe I found on Pinterest. Cleaning the shower, reading my book (oh god yes!). A phone call to my bestie that isn’t with half of my attention whilst telling her the screaming in the background isn’t a big deal and no I don’t need to go. . Maybe even sleeping if I had any sense but everything else seems so much more important.
Feeling a heaviness that this is all on me right now, and I’m not even sure I am up to the task. Because when I am at home with the kids on my own, as much as my hubby will eventually be back, it’s on me until he is. Any drama, meltdown, fight over a damn Minion toy, spilt yoghurt, pee missing the toilet, someone stepping in dog poo, teething baby and a toddler that will never ever sleep… it’s up to me to resolve it. If only ignoring any of the above issues until 5pm would work, then this wouldn’t have made onto this list.
Constantly searching for the balance between giving them all the love they deserve and what I so deeply want to give them, but keeping some of that love for me so I don’t fall apart at the seams. Knowing they need so much and on some days being willing to go above and beyond, yet some days feeling like I can’t take another step further. The exhaustion, the frustration, the disappointment in myself that I just can’t do this role as a mum. At least not in the way that I had always imagined or hoped I would.
Wishing I could just feel like myself again. That I could look in the mirror and love what I see. Being able to shower every day and get dressed in something other than "comfortable and convenient". So that when I get out of the house, I don’t have to spend my time despising the mums that leave the house and look like they have it all together. They are in something other than exercise pants (even though I never exercise), their hair looks shiny and bouncy, their eyebrows aren’t bushy and their pram looks new and isn’t covered in puke, smashed banana and five kilos of sand.
While I sit here writing this, it’s the first time this week the kids have slept for longer than an hour. I wrote frantically whilst watching over my shoulder. I mostly write with a heavy heart that now feels lighter after every word I type.
Because being seen for who I am isn’t as scary as I thought.
Breaking down the barriers I created for myself about how I believed a stay at home mum should feel actually allowed me to FEEL. It gave me the chance to acknowledge that these big feelings aren’t bad or wrong or shameful. They are what they are. The reality of a mum attempting to find the balance. A mum navigating the minefield of parenting with no quick fix rule book or shimmering crystal ball. A mum loving being a mum one moment and loathing it the next… and as painful as it may feel to say that, I’m learning that’s okay.