The Man and I had a recent email conversation where, for the first time in our relationship, I have managed to put into words what it means to be a stay-at-home mum. For the record: I am overly blessed to have a husband who DOES pitch in and help, who is willing to take over the care of the boys at the end of the day when I've reached the end of my patience.
Many women I know don't have even that.
I'm posting part of the conversation in the interests of creating a better understanding of what our lives are like. Why, when you get home, we are so tired and frustrated.
Men - please read this and take note.
I always said that I went to work to get a break - staying at home with a child/ren is a MUCH tougher job. Believe me, I'd rather go somewhere where my job is far more clearly defined than be a stay-at-home mom. They aren't joking, or trying to be politically correct when they say that being a mom is the toughest job in the world.
It's not so much the actual job of mommying and maintaining a house as it is the sheer diversity of the job requirements. It's a constant juggling act and often you get to the end of the day and feel as though you have accomplished NOTHING - you have no discernible results to measure how well your day went.
It's exhausting, discouraging and most of the time completely unrewarding.
It's wonderful over the weekend when everyone pitches in and the house actually gets completely clean - because then I can see the results, I can relax and enjoy my weekend, knowing that for a few hours, my work is done.
But from a day to day basis, it's never quite finished and I never can quite relax at the end of the day without feeling like I've failed.
You see, for the husband/boyfriend/partner of someone who stays at home all day, the home is a place of relaxation, whereas for us, it's a place of work. It is comparable to you being in a situation where you are chained to your desk for the rest of your life and told to live there, eat there, sleep there, relax there.
Never leaving and going to a place where you can switch off. Let go.
It's a frustrating life. And there seems to be this inexplicable code of silence among women, similar to the code of silence surrounding childbirth and mothering. We are supposed to uphold the life of a stay-at-home mom as being the ultimate. And when we are put into that life situation we are meant to be happy regardless of what is happening behind closed doors. We put a smile on our faces and tell each other how lucky we are to be living this life. How fulfilled we are.
I'm here to tell you that no, I don't find a life where I am spat on, peed on, pooped on, vomited on, bitten or licked fulfilling. I don't enjoy waking in the morning to face a day that WILL include my children disrespecting me and throwing tantrums and where all physical and emotional needs in the family rest on my shoulders.
Mildly put, it's a weighty responsibility. And yet I do get up every morning and get dressed and do my best to plan the day. I do my utmost to fulfill all the needs of my family. I clean the mess, and in the process become a mess.
And I do it because I love them with an unreasonable love.
But to all the men reading this, and this is the point... the key, don't ever believe for one minute that our lives are easy. That our days are filled with leisure time.