Let’s Be Honest, Being a SAHM Isn’t All That: 2013 365 Challenge #319

Scary Mommy Post

Scary Mommy Post

I read two great posts this week that seem to sum up nicely my general feeling of meh. This post is likely to be a bit whiny and self-indulgent, but it’s my blog so hey, why not? 🙂

Actually, I’m sharing the posts because I think a) these things aren’t said enough and b) once the “yay it isn’t just me” has faded I have to pack up my meh (I love that word, you may have noticed – though it needs to come with a shrug) and forge a new happy.

The first post was over on Scary Mommy – that brilliant blog making parents feel normal all over the world. It’s called The Myth of Having it All  and it resonates with my The Job You Can’t Quit post, except the author of the post has seven children and I only have two.

Reading the comments you realise how many people are relieved to finally be able to confess that being a SAHM (stay at home mum) isn’t all they thought it would be. And that’s where I am. My parents both worked when I was growing up, and my relationship with them was quite distant. I thought if only I could be at home with my children – drive/walk them to school everyday, pick them up smiling every evening, sit and do homework with them – I would have this amazing bond with them. Baloney.

The school run is hideous and at least once a week I’m a screaming monster before the kids make it to the gate. Home time is worse – usually both children are crying before we get back to the car, after negotiating our way through adults, kids, dogs, scooters, bikes, puddles. And it’s still only 4 o’clock when we get home, with two hours until hubbie gets in from work. The school day is just so darn short. Nursery used to be 8am until 6pm with guaranteed parking, so I could leave home at ten to six and get there on time. School is 9am to 3.30pm and I compete for parking with a hundred other parents.

In The Myth of Having it All post, Lisa says this:

More and more lately, the shape of my days – the monotony of them, the veritable triviality of them, the drudgery of them – is getting me down. I know I’m not supposed to say these things, right? As a stay-at-home mom, the proper thing to do is to sing from the rooftops in exaltation about how wonderful and magical my life is as a housewife, and as a “mommy blogger” (if that’s even what I am; I’m not sure), I should be honing my photography skills so as to document for all the world just how wonderful and magical my life is.

Kristen Lamb's beautifully honest post

Kristen Lamb’s beautifully honest post

We can all read it and know it isn’t true that people think being a SAHM is magical. Except they do. it’s the Facebook lie and it has to stop. Motherhood is pretty dull whether you’re a SAHM, a working mum, a part-time mum or a mummy-what-lunches, complete with nanny and cleaner. (I’m listening to some of those gossiping in the coffee shop behind me, and I’m not sure they belong in the list, to be fair!)

The second post covers the other side of my meh or maybe arrgghh. Kristen Lamb is always wonderfully honest and this week she talks of being overwhelmed by life, and accepting those emotions instead of passing them off as tiredness or depression. I could so relate.

Her post, Lesson of Confession: I’m Drowning, Help!  tells how important it is to recognise when we are disappointed or drowning. I am both, without nearly as valid a reason as she has. On some days it all goes right and dinner is cooked, the kitchen is tidy, kids have eaten their tea, dog has been walked and we’re doing homework when Daddy walks in. That happens about once a month. Most days he walks in to a wall of screaming and crying, and that’s just me. And, you know what, even those rare and magical days are pretty dull. There’s none of the high I used to get from surviving a difficult presentation or finishing a report. Or even from writing some great chapters.

Because there is no time or energy to write anymore. Since hubbie went back to work and the kids dropped down to their six-hour day, three days a week, I mostly only find time to walk the dog, clean the kitchen, iron some shirts and write my blog. And I’m always in a rush. Always. I hate it. There, I’ve said it. I hate it. I look at working mums with envy, even though I know their life is ten times tougher than mine and even more of a rush. I would give anything to go to work for twelve hours straight without a single screaming tantrum to deal with. Or, like hubbie did last night, go away to a hotel for work and slip out guilt-free to the cinema. Except, of course, I wouldn’t.

In the fantasy books I’m reading at the moment, the young protagonist keeps whining, “Why me?” In the end someone says, “Who else would you trust to get the job done?” And there’s the rub. Much as I hate having to remember to take money in a purse for Children in Need (I forgot: mummy fail) and rushing home to do the ironing and vacuum cleaning, I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it. I had a cleaner and it lasted only a few weeks, because we didn’t see eye to eye (and I hated having to tidy the house before she arrived!)

Doing Sounds in the playroom

Doing Sounds in the playroom

As a treat, because Daddy was away last night, we hired a movie and had pizza on the sofa, snuggled up in duvets (except daughter was scared by the movie and we had to turn it off!) The movie was Shrek the final part. The one where Shrek wishes for just a day away from his boring life as husband and parent, and it all goes wrong. He loses everything and only then discovers what he had. I know what I have: I love my husband and children, I love having the freedom to take them to school everyday, the money to send my son to nursery, a husband who doesn’t mind that I write rather than mop the kitchen floor, and who will eat takeaway when I’m too shattered to cook.

I love that I came downstairs from making notes for this blog post sneakily on the iPad, to discover the children sitting quietly together learning sounds. I love that I could let them be and make breakfast because, really, my shower could wait until later and we didn’t have to leave for an hour. I know it is for these moments of calm that I chose to stay at home and write books instead of getting a proper job.

I know all that. But I’m still bored and restless. I’m still listening to the women behind me discussing the restrictions of the school uniform, and whether they can get a hat from Boden, and resisting the urge to run away screaming, “Isn’t there more to it than this?” Sigh. As always with parenting, I cling to the phrase “this too will pass.” In the meantime I’ll try and swap my meh for happy and just keep swimming.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire typed “Roseland Peninsula” into the search box and waited. The map pin dropped into a place near St Austell. Claire frowned and read the address, then tutted as she realised it was a business of the same name.

Stupid map.

She tried typing the words into the search engine instead, and finally came up with a website which showed the peninsula. It was as she’d suspected, when she’d read the review of the hostel she was in which had raved about the amazing time to be had in Roseland. It was about as much a peninsula as the Isle of Purbeck was an island.

What it is with the need to name these areas? Is it for a sense of identity? Tourism? Convenience? Was it once a little kingdom or principality, back in the days when there were dozens of petty kings fighting over land?

Reading through several more websites, Claire discovered it was in fact a peninsula, apparently separated from the mainland by a river.

Well, that told me, didn’t it?

She smiled and copied the notes into a document. With a quick glance at the time, she scanned more quickly through the remaining pages. Deciding to use the peninsula as a case study to compare with the Isle of Purbeck had been a great idea, but she was meeting Conor in two hours and she still had to drive to St Austell and find the right place for lunch. Looking through the online images she felt that Roseland might have the edge on Purbeck.

Although given Conor’s passion for Dorset, it probably won’t be a good idea to write that down.

Certainly the websites were miles apart. Claire grimaced as she looked at the messy Purbeck page with angry banners and snide comments. It wasn’t a tourism website, as far as she could see, but the online equivalent of a parochial parish newsletter. The Roseland site was the opposite extreme: almost too polished and slick, with scrolling flash images and neat headings.

Furiously typing notes, Claire tried to remain objective, remembering that Conor’s love of all things Jurassic Coast was likely to make him defensive. She didn’t want a fight, and she definitely didn’t want to upset him.

But, then, if he couldn’t take the truth he shouldn’t have hired me for this project.

The more she flicked through the two websites, the more Claire became aware of a sense of elation building inside her. It was a forgotten feeling: that sense of hitting the mark; of doing a job well and feeling in control.

This is why I love my job.

With a widening grin, she wrote a few more paragraphs of explanation before reluctantly closing the laptop. There would be no time to print it out but, if she found the restaurant before Conor arrived, there might be the chance to put together a presentation.

That’ll stop him harassing me for updates and get him off my case. I think the less I see of him the better.

***

13 thoughts on “Let’s Be Honest, Being a SAHM Isn’t All That: 2013 365 Challenge #319

  1. Oh Amanda! You capture it! When my daughter was a baby 18 years ago, no one was honest about all this stuff. An artist, like you, I yearned for so much more……and at the same time, felt I was a good mother and wouldn’t trade places (who had the time to think about trading places?) with anyone else? But I almost bludgeoned an acquaintance when I was wheeling the stroller up the street and she said, looking at my exquisite daughter “Isn’t she a joy?” Joy. Well. I do know exactly what all of us know. It is nice to know, now, it’s okay to feel this way Thanks for posting!

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      • I think it’s the time of year, maybe, nights drawing in, clocks going back, Christmas looming but we all seem to be feeling it at the moment. It gets a lot easier when everyone’s over 4. I’m absolutely certain of that.

        Cheers

        MTM

      • I think you’re right about the age thing. We’re almost there, the kids were great this weekend, we just have to remember sometimes that – despite his verbal eloquence – littlest Martin is only just three.
        And yes, winter is to blame. The dirt and the mess and the short tempers and the excess of energy are all because the kids aren’t out digging in the sandpit until past bedtime. It’s getting dark at 4pm and there’s still more than a month to shortest day. Sigh. Never mind, this too will pass.

      • 🙂 We’ve put a small trampoline in the playroom this week, and, last year, they were allowed to scoot in the kitchen (before they got so fast!) Now I try and make them scoot the school run every day, and I park a bit further away if it isn’t raining! Hubbie wants to put climbing bars up the playroom walls but I’m afraid worry-wus me asked him not to! (Accident and Emergency isn’t on my list of ways to entertain the children….)

      • Yeh, I take McMini to school on my bike with him on a tag along, he actually pedals really hard so it gets him a good work out. I certainly notice a rise in the energy levels it if we have a rainy spell and end up going in the car.

        cheers

        MTM

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