Okay, so while I have done various things over the years working for myself, I have always done them from home.
I moan about my children, but I do quite like them so I never wanted to send them off from 8-6 everyday while I slogged my guts out for someone else,* so I did what I could to stay at home.
Actually, I think I might have liked my first child a bit more because I was bereft when he went to preschool; with the toddler I practically chuck her in the pre school door and run away laughing. Maybe that’s because I am old and tired now and can’t be arsed with paint and sand, whereas when my son was her age, I was a bright eyed 25 year old who could cope on no sleep and thrived on stress. Basically, my eldest burnt me out.
That means I have been a stay at home mother for 15 years and counting.
Fifteen sodding years of cooking, cleaning, child rearing, play groups, playdates, Cbeebies, cajoling, consoling, washing, ironing other people’s work clothes and being a general dogs body. Oh and lets not forget the five long, awful years when I homeschooled my eldest while living in a village that would rival Royston Vasey in rural Suffolk.
I wouldn’t mind it so much if there was some kind of recognition for it. I don’t mean an award, I mean someones eyes not glazing over when you tell them what you do with your life or heaven forbid, a thanks now and then or some ‘help’ from the other adult in the house.
I know that not all men are shits, you don’t have to tell me what a wonderful husband and father your other half is and how he does 50% of the childcare and housework despite working fifty billion hours a week. I know, okay? I have heard the good stories but I have heard a lot of bad ones. And I have lived the bad ones, believe me.
Everything I say is met with “but I go to work” or “I’ve been at work all day/week.”
“Can you please do the 4am feed? I am still recovering from the c section and I can’t move without my insides feeling like they are going to fall out” I would say, stooped over in pain.
“But I have to go to WORK tomorrow” was the reply.
“Can you play with the toddler while I catch up on some work please? She’s been a shit today and I could’t get the laptop out.”
“I’ve been at WORK all day.”
“I have invited a couple of of other families over at the weekend, might be nice for the toddler to have the other kids here.”
“I’ve been at WORK all week, don’t expect me to do anything.”
My favourite was my ex husband: He used to leave cups and glasses by his bed. I asked them to put them in the kitchen in the mornings so I didn’t have to clean up more of his mess.
“But I am going to WORK!” he said angrily.
The funny thing was, he had to walk through the kitchen to get to the front door to go to work. Picking up some mugs and putting them down again on his way out would have taken seconds. When I told him that, I got the reply, “If it only takes seconds, why are you complaining then?”
Sometimes you can’t win.
Like when my husband says he doesn’t clean because he “can’t see dirt and mess” but then gets angry at me if the house is a mess. Quite a feat for someone who can’t see dirt. Maybe Jesus miraculously temporarily heals him of that affliction from time to time.
What he meant by “I can’t see dirt” was actually “It’s your job to clean up everything, because I got to WORK.”
On and fucking on. For fifteen years.
I am not belittling going to work, but when you have a family too, you need to pitch in with it all when you are at home, right?
Because when you treat the person you live with like and unpaid babysitter, cook, cleaner and skivvy, they tend to resent you for it and start to not like you very much.
I had a friend (not me, but I wish it was) who was so fed up with her Sargent Major like husband that she started mixing cat food into his dinners, just to have a bit of control over something. She did it for years until she finally left him for demanding she cook dinner the say after she gave birth to an undiagnosed breech baby and couldn’t even sit down without help.
I keep reading about women who say, “without you, your husband wouldn’t be able to concentrate on his career or have a social life. You are the one looking after the children and the house, he should be grateful.”
Yes, that sounds great doesn’t it? I used that line once and all I got back was, “if you weren’t here I wouldn’t have a house or kids so shut up.”
How does it change?
I’m lost really. Yes, the person who is at home more has more time to do the bulk of things, but everything? Twenty four hours a day? (which is what it is when you have babies and toddlers).
You know the old argument about how women in the 1950’s managed without whinging? They were all on fucking valium! ‘Mother’s little helpers’ as they were called. Either valium or amphetamines prescribed by the Doctor got them through it. That was until the day the miserable old bastard finally popped his clogs. Now they are living it up on cruises with his pension and good on them.
Don’t, whatever you do leave him in charge for a weekend to see how he likes it.
Do you know what will happen? They will want to do it all perfectly just to show you that you are moaning about nothing. The children will be well fed, the washing will be done, the cupboards will be full and the house will be sparking. Anyone can do that for a weekend – it’s when you do it day in, day out for years on end without a word of thanks or a break that it becomes a draining slog of a half-life.
Leaving them to it for a couple of days will only give them further ammunition to fight you with when you tell them you are at breaking point – “I kept on top of the house and kept the kids happy that weekend you went away, it was easy. You must be lazy“
I am going to leave you with this gem that my husband said to me after i’d been up for two days and nights with a puking, temperature ridden toddler and I asked him to look after her so I could sleep for a few hours:
“I don’t know why you are so tired. You don’t go to work. You can sit on your arse anytime you like.”
*cool if you do – I AM NOT slagging you off or judging you