is more what I have in mind by hearing the somewhat diminutive SAHM (Stay At Home Mum) expression. And nope I am not saying all this to add fuel to already heated discussion on ‘who works harder’ SAHM or WM (Working Mum or Warrior Mum ;-)).
I am saying all this as only yesterday Giselle (being only 8) has suddenly asked me ‘what are you actually doing all day mummy’ and for a first few seconds I was speechless…
I am rather thick-skinned but that question somehow made a great impact on me. I guess I just didn’t expect it to come from the very same person I am looking after (although ‘remotely’ for some parts of the day ;-)) throughout precisely that time.
I can just about understand that people who has never had to ‘stay at home’ (which for most of the time is anything but staying at home!) don’t simply understand the sheer amount of time, commitment and organisational skills it goes into creating a happy, safe and efficient environment called HOME.
Things just simply don’t slot into place by themselves and all these nice house decor, right size shoes/ clothes, healthy (well most of the time..) dinners, time to organise these extra curriculum classes, birthday parties, music tuitions, weekend days out take time to research, co-ordinate with other family members, book and often liaise with the teachers to check on the progress etc. Not to mention the most mundane household cleaning things (it seems the more mundane the greater chunk of our time it claims).
It is simply like with anything else – if you want things to work pretty well you need to put the right amount of time and effort into it and there is no running away from it. Cheating won’t work as things simply won’t stuck together.
If you add doing some voluntary work like helping out at school during the week for a couple of hours or at the school trips you can see where the time goes however…
For some strange reason SAHM feel they need to ‘explain’ to others what is it they have been actually up to for ‘the whole day’ (never mind the pick up is at 3.15pm and in our case the ‘mad after school clubs rush’ doesn’t end until 6pm often 7pm).
I feel like I am working ‘my but out’ (excuse my languauge) for most if not all of the time (yes I am trying to do things the best I can) and still do get these ‘what are you actually up to ALL day’ questions…
As I precisely know what I am up to ‘all day’ and do value my family input (and hope my dear husband also does but that could be another post some time in the near future..) I was not particularly bothered by other people thoughts or questions.. That is not until yesterday when my daughter posed me precisely the very same question and it felt a bit like the whole world I have been building so long and so hard has suddenly shaken in its fundament…
I have mattered a few words of ‘explanation’ stating some of the above examples but I don’t think I sounded very convincing as she just looked at me suspiciously and said ‘right..’.
And that was it except… it didn’t feel right to me! It didn’t feel right that she has posed this question in the first place. Nothing to do with her, she doesn’t understand the constraints of this world as yet but clearly she can sense the ‘social ladder of things’ namely that your social status depends on the kind of job you are currently performing.
It didn’t feel right that I was feeling obliged to answer it and felt a bit like being ‘put on the spot’ hopelessly trying to justify my ‘position’ in the light of the incoming ‘household job cuts’ (yes please can I be the first one to go! I am not qualified to be a cleaner, cook, driver, artist and secretary to name but a few! sorry for being too cynical at this stage..).
It just simply doesn’t feel right that society completely neglects these hard working women who are trying their best to upbring their children often giving up their careers, time and taking the salary cut. Teaching their children to be decent human beings providing them with a stable healthy base and sound set of values which they can relate to at different points throughout their lives.
And of course these are the very same things the WM are striving for with the exception that no one questions their timetable nor good intentions.
The SAHM work equally hard, they have just chosen a ‘different path’ to achieve the same outcomes (sorry to talk about our lovely children as ‘little products’ ;-)). And as we all know most of the time there are a few ways of achieving the same thing and ‘one way does not suit all’ so I really sometimes feel like the whole SAHM v WM discussion is ‘written on sand’.
Often SAHM work is is totally unvalued and unappreciated, unpaid and… solitary at times… Paradoxically the more children one has ‘the lonlier’ it feels as there are more things which needs to be done which in effects directly translates into the time mum needs to spend doing all of admin bits.
And we all suffer with the same virus being the constant lack of time. The amount of time I was choosing in my head ‘this great book I am going to read to them later on this afternoon’ while standing alone in the kitchen trying to multitask washing up after lunch, preparing the dinner, checking my messages and making sure Conrad is practising his cello, only to find out shortly before 9pm when finally everyone was tugged into bed that yet again ‘the time has flown’ and yet another evening was nowhere near as long and peaceful as I would loved it to be…
So perhaps let’s stop assessing other mums whether SAHM or WM or SIKM (Stay In the Kitchen Mums ;-)) or NOGM (Never Out of the Gym Mums ;-)) as none of us really ever gets a break. We are all mums and we are all trying our best to create the best home for our children that we can manage in the circumstances. Even if we aren’t physically managing our children we are still actively thinking about them.. We are all to the same degree dreading this ‘bleeding nose or broken arm’ school phonecall in the middle of the day. We will all drop immediately whatever we are currently doing being ‘staying at home’ 😉 or ‘working like a warrior’ 😉 mum and rush to fetch our dear child and give him this big hug we are both in need.
They need it so they know we love them and we need it so we know we are the best mums we can possibly be!
As I would not call it a ‘war’ there are a few interesting points Carinn has highlighted in her post below: