Monday, 11 January 2016

On being "just"

My fingers feel stiff and awkward as I attempt to move them across the keys. It's been so long since I typed anything never mind a full blog post of swirling, grey thoughts, that it feels like exercise after all this time. This is probably a horrifying indication of the last time I managed any actual exercise.

There is a temptation to do a full recap of life since the last time I managed to write anything here, but given that I know everyone who reads it is a bit foolish. And yet... We are now 4. We are still in LA, but only for a few more months, before we head to Denver, Colorado to start all over again. That's about it. That's everything you need to know.

I posted a photo on Instagram yesterday with a long, blabbing comment about how hard I found December, and how I was ready to tackle January. There was something cutesy about painting my nails. I definitely made a passing comment about my expectations of a glorious Christmas being shattered. 

January saw my comments and laughed. Today is our first day back to normal of the new year, as husband worked for most of the holidays everyone else had. I was so ready and raring to go. I had totschool activities planned for K, who is learning letters and can count to 20 and is an absolute sponge, for good and bad. There was food to make and activities and games to play and the house was mostly clean but a few things needed done. 

Then there was a night with no sleep and raging temperatures and this morning; more snot and self pity than I care to think about. Then the inevitable "I have to work late" text. It's funny really, in the most ironic and least 'ha ha' way. Of course illness was almost inevitable, as I watched my toddler eat chocolate cupcake off the airport floor (the one we told her she couldn't have but the cashier decided otherwise) and aeroplanes are always the kind of hotbed for disease that make my normally laissez-faire skin crawl. I should not have been remotely surprised.

And yet here I sit, wallowing in a steaming hot bath of woe-is-me. Yet again, reality has quietly shaken its head at expectations, lips pursed and muttering a half-hearted platitude of apology, Which begs the question- should I just accept that things are inevitably going to be hard and a bit rubbish for now (at least until the kids are like, 8 and 6,) and embrace the good moments when they happen to pass by? Should I remain ever optimistic and occassionally (frequently) heartbroken? I have no answers to that.

There is, of course, the additional voices of guilt, desperate to make sure I don't miss them out too. The one that says "Jesus Christ, woman. Your kid has a COLD. A COLD. They'll be better by the weekend. Man up. Imagine they had something actually serious. Then imagine that parent sitting reading this pile of self-indulgent nonsense." This voice is often right and rarely welcome at any self-respecting pity party. There is the other one that says "Don't you know how lucky you are to even have kids? Right now there are people pouring their heart and souls into making that happen- think they'd say 'no thanks' if they got offered one with a cold and one that doesn't sleep? Course not. Get on with it." Often joined by her friend, who likes to make sure I know that no one on earth is interested in Mum Problems. Especially Stay-at-home Mum Problems. And I should try having some real problems.

So what's my point? I'm not sure I have one. Perhaps that being "just a mum" is an insult leveled at those of us who don"t leave the house to go to work every morning, and yet it is an astonishingly challenging hat to wear. On the one hand, I am unspeakably proud of what I do. It is something I enjoy. It is something I think I'm fairly good at (I am 2/2 at keeping early walkers alive so far, which is pretty impressive if I say so myself) and I HATE the way people look down on us, as if we are too stupid or unambitious or whatever else to have a life outside in the real world. We are not entitled to an opinion on anything outside the domestic sphere, and the only solution anyone ever has to offer to any problem is to go out and "do something with yourself", as opposed to all the "nothing" I do around here all day.

And yet at times like this, being "just a mum" feels every inch the insult as thrown at you. I have nothing else to talk about bar my own grumpiness. There is endless chores to be done and nappies to be changed and the walls are closing in on me. I can, of course, handle it. But I am tired of handling it and really want to enjoy it. I just need to decide if it's a matter of will or luck. 

But I do intend to try and write again. Mostly because I feel better after that little rant and let's face it, Instagram isn't really the place for it. It's for over-exposed pinterest projects. Everyone knows that.


  1. Have you ever read The Feminine Mystique? I bought it in a bookshop in San Francisco when I was feeling particularly feministy, and I confess I never finished it. But I do know Betty Friedan kickstarted a whole new generation of feminism by shining a light on the exquisite, unexamined agonies of being "just" a wife and mother. You're allowed to moan - what you're doing is really fucking hard. And you're nailing it.

    (Hope the snotty one gets better and the other one gives you some decent sleep soon.)

  2. I'm glad you're blogging again. I like reading your words. :)

    You're in the midst of it and I'm a terrible person right now to give you a pep talk because when you suggested we should should accept life like this for the next 6-8 years, I was right there with you. Or should I say, filled with nausea and teetering on the edge of diving back into it all? At least yours are both past the newborn stage!!

    But really, you are amazing at what you do. You are my example of a balanced, realistic, loving mom who is raising two great kids. AND doing Pinterest worthy educational crafts at the same time?? Wow you're lucky I don't hate you. ;)

    Try to claim something for you when you can. Enjoy the good moments when you can. And get through the rest.

    p.s. I haven't painted my toe nails since Owen was born.

  3. Glad to read you again. The "just a mom" is said by people who clearly have no idea of how hard it can be, at moments. Congratulations on number 2 :)


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