In a shop the other day the male shop assistant asked what I did for a living. It was 10am on a weekday and I was pushing a pram. When I said ‘I’m a stay at home mum’ he looked at me like I was an alien. Then frowned. And mumbled “Mmm what else do you do?” It took all of my strength not to a) swear at him or b) punch him.
He had made a snap judgement. He didn’t think being a mum was a full time gig, or, by the sounds of it, at all hard. Why is it that people judge mums for doing what we do? For putting our babies and children before our own careers? For doing the most selfless act in the world – giving up our bodies for nine months (and the rest) to incubate a real life human, a bundle of joy that turns our world upside down? And then, giving up more and more time, effort, sleep, energy, money, you name it for decades to come – surely everyone should realise what a superhuman effort that is?
All this man saw was a tired, sweaty (from pushing the pram in the stifling Brisbane humidity), haphazardly-dressed woman who, apparently, looked like she was having a laugh and just couldn’t be bothered exerting herself on several fronts. Little did this man know that I’ve had a successful 15 year career in media and PR and was doing fairly well for myself until I went on maternity leave. But no, he jumped straight to a stereotype – I was the ‘little lady’ at home looking after my spawn and cooking diligently for my husband, but in between I was swanning around without a care in the world.
But I’ve been there. I get it. Before I was a mum, I had no idea why on earth someone would choose to stay home to look after their kid, all day every day (well, beyond the first few months). Even when I was pregnant I literally had no idea that you could feel this sort of, and this much, selfless love for another human being. That I’d want to (and CHOOSE TO) give up work to stay home with my little man.
You can read all the books in the world but literally nothing can prepare you for the onslaught that is motherhood – the good, the bad and the ugly. I guess I imagined that, after all the baby-related tasks, there would be spare time each day to do as I please. I actually wondered what I’d do with that time. Maybe I’d be ‘doing lunch’ and sipping lattes. Oh, how wrong I was.
I have a baby who doesn’t sleep for longer than half an hour during the day (three times). Those precious half hours are spent clearing up, cleaning, and slamming some food down, because then he’s up again. As I’ve said before, as a mum some days it can feel like there’s always something different going on with your child. You have to learn to deal with lack of sleep. And, the term ‘time poor’ is an understatement. It’s damn hard. But, I feel like I’m doing literally the most important job in the world and honestly, there is nothing better.
So, to the people that think it’s easy and mums are living the good life, I say back the F off. And to that guy in the shop, this is what I should have said: “Actually no, Mumbles, that’s not ‘all’ I do. I do the equivalent to your, your boss’ and your boss’ boss’ jobs all before breakfast. Now back it up there, Judgey McJudgerson, before I take the security tag from this overpriced jumpsuit and jam it right up your arse.”