I watched Grant Feller on Lorraine today talking about what he has lost since becoming a stay at home dad about 12 months ago.
He is missing that essence of himself and I am missing me.
I empathise so much but I am not sure that is allowed when you are a mum. For some reason, there seems to be an expectation that you knew what you were getting into and should put up and shut up when you are a female parent.
Yesterday, I asked for help with the housework again. Once again, my husband claimed that he “does his bit” and “mucks in”. The children all proved most reluctant and my daughter has a tantrum about me asking her to put away the clothes she had tipped all over her bedroom floor. So I shouted at her because sometimes it all gets too much. And then I hated myself.
In no way am I a strict disciplinarian. We have a handful of rules probably but all too often even basic requests go ignored or forgotten.
What is really wrong? Why does it sometimes get to me quite so much?
Who knew that a bloke would sum it up nicely? I do find the whole stay at home mum thing cripplingly boring a lot of the time. Self-loathing is around a fair bit too as I see how very much I have let myself go. I am fat. I should get a grip. I don’t look after myself how some other women do. Where are my lovely jazzy jackets and long skirts of yesteryear? I dress dowdily most of the time and I hate it. But as I am largely a nothing in the world, what is the point in dressing up? Who am I trying to kid?
I played out last week as I had an appointment about voluntary work. I put on a Monsoon dress. I felt I looked good. I took time out to eat, people-watch and read. It made me feel so much better in myself.
So why did I decide to become a stay at home mum? I was made redundant in 2005 and realised that childcare juggling with 3 children and two careers was becoming too stressful so thought I might give the stay at home mum thing a go. I have worked since that in a short-term job and now do freelancing. I like the work but I miss seeing people.
What was I like when I went out to work? I loved working to targets and if they were not tight setting my own ones to meet. I enjoyed helping people particularly those in real need. I liked giving them hope. I was resourceful reaching out to organisations across three sectors to see how mutually beneficial relationships could be forged. I loved working with volunteers too encouraging them to see the very real potential they had even though they often lacked confidence. I enjoyed having banter and giggles with other staff.
What did I do? Advice work, media relations, partnership working, volunteer and staff management, fundraising, promotion of goods, services and concepts, designing and delivering training and project management. There was always something going on and it felt like I was making a difference.
I know you are not supposed to say it but the putting out of the uniforms, the nagging about homework, the endless housework and so on really does not satisfy me any where near as much. Then I feel so guilty about feeling that way and think I was wrong to become a mother. These fabulous children so bright, caring and comical have come to me and got the short straw.
I thank goodness for blogging and social media because without those routes into a real world even if mainly online, I think I would give up the ghost.
I think of my late Mum. I can’t ever really remember noticing how nice the house looked as a child. I was expected to help with cleaning most days and I did it because I would not have dared to question my Mum in the way my children do me. I used to leave loads of stuff under my bed and she used to go mad about it. I understand that now.
Mum was I think deeply frustrated about what she could not access. She said she thought she might have made a good politician and anyone who knew her would agree. She had such a strong sense of social justice and was a doer who got on with things. She was good with words too.
When I was little and especially in teenage years, I used to get mad with her because she would not look for positive and interesting opportunities for herself. I used to beg her to join the University of the Third Age for example. But by then she had written herself off as just a housewife. Maybe you get into the habit of being just the person who mops us everyone else’s mess?!
I am supposedly intelligent. I have some vaguely useful work experience. So why do I find it so hard to work out how to make my life that bit or preferably a lot more fulfilling.
Things did change for my mum. I think it all started when her sister asked her to go to bingo with her at the Nash. I remember Mum asking Dad’s permission. I do that all the time with my husband as if it is up to him to allow me to do things. That is a big one for leading me to loath myself. Answering to a man – whatever happened to Kate? Anyway, Mum went one night and liked it. Then she went every week and learned that people liked her. She want on a few girlie weekends to London. She got involved in older people’s clubs and being Mum ended up leading most of them. She started going on holidays with groups dragging Dad along with her. He never had her need for friends. She was his friend and he was happy with that.
The trouble is I don’t have a sister to ask me along to the bingo or anything else. I find it difficult pushing myself forward unless I already have something to hide behind like a job title.
I ask my husband to help me but he says there is nothing to stop me getting out and going for what I want. He is right of course but he does not understand. I would like him to get behind my relaunch on the world in the same way as I have got behind him when he has faced redundancy and in other ways. I think I would be a much more attractive person if I was doing and seeing more even if only to myself.
I feel I need a friend like Auntie Margaret was to Mum saying “Hey, it’s time you got a bit of a break” and checking in to see how I am doing and making sure that I am moving forwards positively.
I remain annoyed with myself. I know what is wrong but I am not doing enough to fix it and I can’t even explain why.