Thursday, March 17, 2011


With nothing more pressing, nothing more immediate, on the cards, it seems I am, for the next little while, to continue being a Stay At Home Mum.

I'm cool with that.

Frieda's settled into 5 mornings a week at her Montessori school ('I do lots of important work at school Mum, so when I get home I need to just play okay?'), Stella is in a good routine and by god, she's gotten cute.
She barks, she moo's, she sniffles her little nose when I say 'bunny'. She loves a picture of a 'baba' and pretends to rock dolls to sleep. She rolls a ball back and forth to me, climbs onto chairs and calls for approval, she waits in anticipation as I build elaborate towers out of blocks and then smashes them down with great glee.
Who wants a career when you can spend your mornings with that?
The girls increasingly play together, I have help with the house, regular play-dates and outings and afternoons with Granny.
It all sounds pretty idyllic no?

But as ever, because this is life, there is guilt.

Not so much parental guilt, I'm not really into that. But guilt when I'm not loving it, when I don't feel it's idyllic, when I'm tired and frustrated and, as you'd say in Afrikaans - gatvol ('had it up the ass' is the best translation I can come up with - sorry!).
But I had a revelation recently - I don't have to love every minute. I may be 'lucky' and 'privileged' to be home with my kids (and I know that I am - hence the guilt see?), but actually, it's my job, and no one loves their job every day. And if I have a bad day, if I've got girl trouble up the ass, it's not 'cos I hate my kids, it's 'cos I'm not loving my job.
I'm cool with that.

Here's another dilemma:
A friend recently sent me a link to this article, about 'keeping-up parenting' and how mothers lie to one another about how they parent. The gist is that we lie to create the impression of being better, more involved, parents. Sometimes I have the opposite problem, sometimes I feel I need to gloss over how much I enjoy being home with my girls.
I see, or imagine I see, the looks in the working Mum's eyes when I do this kind of thing with Frieda. I see, I definitely see, the envy, the guilt, when I mention we spent the afternoon in Kirstenbosch. I try to be gracious when asked 'how can you stand it?' (meaning full-time child raising - true story).

Ai, what is it about women that we judge each other so?
My until-recently SAHM-buddy started a contract job a few weeks back, and within her first day was made to feel bad first by a female colleague in her new office (for working shorter days, as per her agreed contract), and later by another mother while she was collecting her kids from school (for working at all).
We can be such bitches.

I know I'm lucky. I know this is a stage in my life. In theirs.

For now I am SAHM, SAHM I am.

And I'm cool with that.


Unknown said...

i totally get how you are damned if you do and damned if you dont. i really love that you have embraced it and know that it isnt glamorous or fun all the time. there are times you want to say....mommy is taking a time out!
i think no matter what direction you choose in life there is guilt from ourselves and others.
it seems like your kids are happy and you are loving being home with them......screw everyone else!

DB Stewart said...

Sometimes my wife and I will sit with our friends and we will all provide a few examples recent examples that illustrate that we are indeed the worst parents in the entire world. It's cathartic and we laugh with abandon. I recommend it.
Re: parents who lie about their of my favourite quotes: "we lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."