Wednesday, 28 March 2012

What do you DO all day?

I along with a lot of stay at home mums were very insulted to read a letter written to an advice columnist with the Washington Post, basically saying that she didn't believe that stay at home mum's actually did anything with their days that earned them the right at the end of their day to complain about being so tired. (For anyone who wants to read the letter, and the columnist's reply, the letter can be found here) Luckily the advice columnist is or has been in the past a stay at home mum, so her response is both witty and incredibly accurate. I found myself nodding vigorously at everything she had to say, and it took a great amount of strength to not stand up and cheer when I finished reading her response. (I have a sleeping baby and a sleeping mother who probably wouldn't have appreciated my enthusiasm as much as I do).

This isn't the first time I have heard this old chestnut, and not even the first time I have heard it since becoming a mum, but it makes my blood boil nonetheless. Even before I had Miss K, I knew from years of watching my mum be a stay at home mum to 6 children, that the stay at home mum that had nothing to do, was not a stay at home mum. When I was a kid, when I would have sick days, I'd sit in the lounge room and watch telly, and be vaguely aware of mum buzzing around in the background doing whatever it is that mums do. Even when she did stop at lunch to watch her soaps, she did it with a mountain of laundry and an ironing board in front of her. Even now, mum has a hard time sitting still for too long, having learned years ago that as a mum, your job is never finished, even when all but 2 of your children have moved out of home, and one of them is a mum themselves. Even sore hands aren't enough to stop her trying to do the dishes or clean the house up.

While I won't bore you with a list of everything that Miss K and I do on a day to day basis, needless to say, I don't have a lot of time to stop and smell the roses while she's out of bed. I'm still trying to figure out how to successfully do housework while she's awake. Tying her up has been ruled out as slightly over the top, and she so far has been unresponsive to suggestions of helping me to tidy up her toys, but we press on regardless. Sometimes it's hard to know whether I am getting the balance of attention to my daughter and attention to the house right, but I take the huge smiles I get from her as an indication that everything is OK. Even if there is a pile of books and Mega Blocks in the corner still not tidied up from yesterday, and I can never seem to get on top of keeping her room clean.

It isn't fair to assume that just because a woman doesn't go to an office and work from 9am to 5pm to pull a wage, and instead chooses to raise her children with her own hands, that she spends her entire day sitting around drinking coffee and socialising. If she does have a coffee, it is more likely to be sitting on a table going cold as she chases a child around, making sure they don't pull things on top of themselves, or eat things off the floor.

As for me, I hear Miss K singing my song, so back I go to being a stay at home mum. Someone pass me my cup of cold coffee......
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