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Posts Tagged ‘stay at home mother’

Many years ago, when I was a “gainfully employed” person (as opposed to an “unpaid domestic house slave”), I strode purposefully from decision-making process to decision-making process, the Chicken of Persuasion firmly in my hand.

But these-a-days, my vision is constantly clouded by soul-wracking indecision.

“Oh, but you’re just a housewife, NDM,” some people say to me. “How hard can that job be? I mean, it’s not even a job!” 

And then those people run away really quickly before I can do too much damage to them. 

Well,  I thought I should share a few examples of the kinds of decisions I am faced with on a daily basis with those naysayers (and any other interested parties):

Tiddles “Grumpy Pants” McGee has fallen asleep in front of Power Rangers Ninja Storm. Should I wake him up immediately and endure the rest of the afternoon with him in a foul mood OR should I let His Majesty sleep as long as he likes, knowing he’ll not go to bed that night without a shit-fight, thus cutting into valuable “adult time” (also known as “piss-farting about on the computer time”)?

Should I try cooking something “exciting and new” for dinner and risk everyone going hungry when they dismiss it out of hand OR should I just stick to the usual menu, safe in the knowledge that they’ll eat it but also that they’ll grow up with a palate narrower than the 1950s White Australia Policy?

When a child shits their underpants, which is better for the planet? A) scrubbing, soaking and washing them using all manners of evil detergents – not to mention all that precious precious water (see “Water Saving“); or B) throwing them in the bin and waste dwindling fossil fuel supplies by driving to the local Kmart to buy a new pair shrink-wrapped in non-biodegradable packaging?

A small child under my jurisdiction makes an unreasonable demand at the shops. Do I  A) give in immediately before anyone really notices OR  B) risk riding out a very public 45 minute-long A-grade tantrum before finally being forced to capitulate entirely to the small person’s will in front of a large crowd of onlookers who will all judge me harshly and perhaps even hiss and throw rotten fruit at me for being such a Failure as a Mother and as a Human Being? 

Should I leave the house with all three children in tow and set a very dangerous precedent indeed? Or should I just stay at home until they’re 18 and develop a severe case of cabin fever wherein I start hallucinating about frozen margaritas and calling everyone “sport”?

Basically, when it comes down to it, the Secretary-General of the United Nations should try doing my job for a while.

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You can mostly tell the mums who are still at home with small children on the school pick up: they are the ones with cookie dough smeared down the front of their tracksuit pants. Or they have “flowers” painted on their cheeks with poster paints by a four year old that make them look like an extra in The Dawn of The Dead. Or they’re wearing a maternity top three years after they last were pregnant. Or they’ve got an apron tied backwards around their neck because they’ve been playing “Super Heros”.

Or maybe that’s just me.  

As I walked to the school the other day, with a large partially-rotten hibiscus tucked firmly behind my ear at the The Pixie’s insistence, I thought to myself: At some point in my labour with Mr Justice one too many people examined me while I was in stirrups and I crossed over some invisible line into a land where there was No Shame. And there was no return from that point. No return at all.

But no sooner had I thought that, I then found myself agonising over which ear I should be wearing that rotten flower behind. From what I could remember of the Hawaiian tradition, a flower behind one ear denotes you’re married, and behind the other that you’re single.

And then I woke up to myself. I realised that it Just Didn’t Matter because I was pushing the Valco Mobile Home down the road to the school, with my hair resembling a fright wig and wearing “The Berocca Grin” from a hastily drunk glass of that Magic Orange Potion which made me look like I’d just been pashing a jar of Orange Tang.

Clearly, I told myself, nobody was going to be checking out which ear I had put the flower behind in case I was “available”. Nobody. Not even my own husband. 

I then recalled with great clarity how, when I was in my 20s, I used to look at women who said they were dressing “just for themselves” and I would think “Yeh, but you also want to get laid, right?”

Now, with three children, the last thing I want to do is to get laid. Hell, no! But (I thought to myself) I still dress for other people to a certain extent. I dress so that my children won’t be too embarrassed to be seen with me in public. I dress so that my friends still invite me places and buy me lots of drinks. I dress so that my husband won’t suddenly shout “What the hell is That Thing in the kitchen and what has it done with the girl I married?”.

And then I concluded this inner-monologue with the following truth: if I was really going to dress “just for me”, I’d probably never get out of my pyjamas because most days everything else just requires Too Much Effort.

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As much as I am loathe to bring up Disney in my blog (I get enough of it at home, thank you), I was musing the other day how “It’s a small world” is another of those songs that has taken on a new meaning since I became a full-time Stay At Home Mum. (For other shapeshifter songs, see “Music to a Mother’s Ears“).

You see, my head is filled with the small details of our lives – shopping lists, dates of birthdays and immunisations, shoe sizes, medical histories, culinary likes and dislikes, the whereabouts of toys and other beloved items (but not the shoes, never the shoes), milestones such as when each child got their first tooth or started to answer back… Of course I can’t always retrieve this information when I need it, but it’s there somewhere. With the shoes.

There are the little things that I get a kick out of: the kids and I got unreasonably excited when my husband parked the Love Bus the other way around in the driveway because it felt like we had a Brand New Car. I still get a little thrill whenever I’ve just freshly iced and decorated a platter of cupcakes. And then there was the time Mr Justice insisted on wearing a single black glove to school. And the time KC tried to encourage our collective children to get moving at the zoo by singing “I like to move it, move it” and we had to wait an extra five minutes while T. McGee danced and sang “Mood it! Mood it!”. Or whenever The Pixie climbs up onto my lap for a “huggle”. Or when someone walks into my severely organisationally-challenged house for the first time and exclaims “I love your home!”. And that hard-earned glass of wine heartily enjoyed when the kids are finally in bed at night. 

Then there are those things that I like to put a little positive spin on. Such as the time The Pixie went through the fruit bowl and took a single little Pixie-sized bite out of every single apple. Some might have said “What a waste!” but I preferred to say “My daughter ate some fruit!”. Or whenever the children empty the entire box of little lego all over the loungeroom floor and start merrily jamming it into every crack and cranny. Some people might say “What a mess!” or “I just tidied that room!”, but I choose to say “They’re having fun!” and “At least they’re not hassling me!” (although I do say those other things, too but probably with a few more exclamation marks or some expletives thrown in for good measure). 

Of course there’s also that expression “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Fine for someone who’s world extends further than the four walls of a little suburban house. But for a stay-at-home mum like me? Not so easy. For example: I felt bad all morning the other day because a a cyclist passed me just as I threw something into someone else’s garden and his face said it all and had he been a Shakespearean actor of some repute (which he wasn’t), he might have exclaimed “Get thee behind me, ye slovenly ho!” . But before anyone else judges me, let me just tell you that it was a handful of partly-chewed banana which Tiddles had made a point of spitting onto my palm and I had Nowhere To Put It. And because the cyclist passed us so quickly, I didn’t get a chance to blurt out “It’s organic matter, already partially broken down by my son’s own teeth and saliva”. I then went on to spend the next hour alternating between being embarrassed that there was a member of our community who thought I wasn’t doing my Civic Duty and thinking how that cyclist wasn’t in any position to judge me because he wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is mandatory by law, thank you very much. Small stuff? Sweat-drenched, baby.

And then there are those small things that threaten to push me over the edge: sticky-rice feet, my husband eating crackers in my ear, scratched DVDs that skip or Just Won’t Load just when I really need the kids to spend some Quality Time with the TV, the fact that The Pixie never just comes when you call her but always does it in a way that suggests she isn’t coming because you’ve asked her to but because it was her idea to head that way anyway. And those Wiggles songs where they’ve sped up the voice track so it sounds like they’ve done a collaboration with Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

And then there are those toys with a million little separate pieces which come into our home and upon being opened for the first time, immediately explode so that every little piece is distributed widely throughout the house, never to be reunited with its brethren again. I have jars and boxes full of these small objects that I add to every time another piece is found, in the hope that one day we’ll ‘get the band back together’. It’s a small dream, but one that I can cling to for quite some time (before finally emptying those jars and boxes directly into the bin).

But of course the most important Little Things of All are the children themselves – who in turn, frustrate, amuse, thrill, confuse, infuriate and fill me with love, pride and wonder. They throw their little arms around my neck, press their small mouths to my ear and say things like “You’re the Bestest Mummy in the Whole World”, which I know is quite some way from the truth but am so willing to believe for the duration of that precious hug. Ah, whoever would have thought such wonderful things would come in such small packages.

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa

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