Now that almost everyone is back at WORK-work (as opposed to stay-at-home-with-baby-full-time work), I’ve likewise switched gears. Or at least my conscience has. The honeymoon period is definitely over, and my child is not a newborn. She’s not even really a baby. And so it feels like a very lame excuse to play the New Mommy card when I try to explain (to myself) why I’m not doing more.
I’ve had a chat to other mothers, and it’s a small relief to find I’m not alone. Somehow, staying at home in this day and age feels too much like a luxury, and so we guiltily cram as many chores as we can into precious little time. The 45 minutes Arddun plays by herself in the cot is spent washing dishes, cleaning her eating station, tidying the kitchen, putting a load of laundry on, emptying the dishwasher, wiping down the stove. An additional fifteen minutes is spent distracting her with TV while I run to the bathroom and try to have a quick shower. (This does not work, by the way. I can hear her complaints when I turn off the taps and I know that she’s been yelling for a time like a caged baby baboon while Playschool is blaring in the background.)
And yet, while I’m towelling off and grimacing about her wails, I’m also wiping down the bathroom sink, bench top and bathtub.
Because we women multi-task. We do not compartmentalise, we connect. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a weekday or a weekend. I find myself cleaning up as I go along, and constantly daunted that I can never get enough done. And when we’re finally back to the job of caring for the child, we read to them, we sing to them, we play hide-and-seek, we cook Jamie Oliveresque baby meals. We take them to the doctor’s, the library, the mall, the playground, the park, the supermarket, other mother’s houses. We take them to baby swimming classes and Gymbaroo classes and Giggle & Wiggle at the local library – even though the librarians cannot sing. All the while kicking ourselves for not stimulating them enough, and secretly wondering if a childcare environment wouldn’t be a better alternative for socialisation and quality early childhood education.
At least, that’s my perversity.
In great contrast, our men – when left in the sole charge of the offspring – are perfectly capable of letting the kid crawl around the house on its own while they enrich their souls and minds on the Xbox. They have absolutely no qualms about doing something they REALLY enjoy while “watching the kid”. Because it’s a weekend. And they’ve worked all week.
And Tony still does the laundry. And he still does his ironing. And he still takes out the garbage, and does the gardening. It’s not like he doesn’t help out – he does. Heaps. But it’s just… different. He has a list. He ticks the items off. He reaches the end of the list. He sits down, and he plays Battlefield 3.
I have a list. It grows by 5 items for every 2 that I tick off. And while I’m ticking the items off, I worry that I’m not making the most of my time with Arddun.
I really get it now. I really understand what they’ve been saying, when they say that motherhood is a full-time job. It is. It never stops. It is unrelenting, and there are no weekends because there are no imaginary lines. And I’ll tell you why there are no imaginary lines. It’s because Mothers are Women. And Women mostly don’t know when – or how – to switch off.
I was reading Kate’s blog post yesterday, and how she’s loving the age of 2 because suddenly, it’s not that full on. The tykes, they’re more independent then. They can communicate a little clearer, they can play independently for longer. And I love my little girl. But she’s not a big napper, so she’s awake a lot of the time and always getting into scrapes and gosh I’m tired. My house was a mess when I was a white collar worker, because I was hardly at home. And now it’s a mess when I’m a SAHM, because we’re always at home.
And I feel like I accomplish precious little. Always.
Will the voices in my head please pop a Valium and drop off?
11 July 2012 at 10:56 am
oh velle, great post and I can so relate!! stirs up so many thoughts. Firstly, yes housework!!! Argh it can be so overwhelming – i have a little mantra I have to tell myself at times ‘I did not quit my job to stay home and keep the house clean’/ Yes it has to be done (to some degree!) and its part of my role but its not the point of it – the kid is!! :) I find i have to set limits around it (hard!) so i dont go completely bonkers eg – when the kids go to bed, my work day is done – no cleaning after that point!!
Staying home – it is a wonderful blessing and joy but i guess i never thought of it as a luxury – cos it is plenty hard work!! so hard that plenty of mamas prefer to work as the easier option! (not everyone of course, some mamas need to work). its all kinds of joy but it also challenges me deeply in ways i never imagined, to care for my kids all day every day. but what you are doing right now is the most important job in the world and TRUST ME the fanciest most decked out advanced child care centre could never even have a smidge on the beautiful one on one time you are spendng w your child – even when she is just crawling around stealing the remotes. you love and know her like no-one else!
final thought – yes, 12 months old – BUSY BUSY BUSY and little tornadoes of mess making! as i already wrote about, i find this age exhausting, esp the constant supervision required. its great you have taught her to play independently sometimes at least! but yeah its a busy age so make peace w the mess and know it will not always be quite like this – just enjoy witnessing the cheeky remote stealing for now :) you are doing wonderfully, Mama! xx
11 July 2012 at 12:35 pm
I say: take your cues from the men. They have a much healthier attitude towards this household stuff. Also, it apparently if very healthy for children not to be stimulated continuously, as boredom breeds creativity. Try to focus on what you enjoy (playing with Arddun if that is it) and forget about multi-tasking (it is soo nineties!). hugs