>> Saturday, 22 March 2008

It's the Easter Weekend. How do I know this? Well, two reasons really; traffic to my blog has halved (you all obviously have much more interesting things to do than sit inside and look at the computer), and it's been snowing. I mean, of course it has. It's nearly the end of March. Oh yes, and if I see another chocolate egg I may implode. Or just eat it. No telling which.

I am at my parent's house in Somerset with the family, stealing a few moments to feed my internet addiction, whilst Boy 2 naps and Boy 1 entertains his grandmother and great-grandmother with stories of flying skunks. (No, really. It wouldn't be so bad, but he has taken to illustrating the skunks' abilities with real life smells of his own at the relevant points - for authenticity's sake, you understand. Luckily his great-grandmother hasn't noticed - or is just too polite to comment. And there's not even a dog to blame it on...)

If this post turns out to be a little short or rather odd, it's because I'm using my parent's apple Mac and am struggling with it. I like to think of myself as creative, but am clearly an accountant underneath as I find these things impossible to use (where is the hash key? What's with the moving around of the @ sign? Why can't I maximise the screen? Where is the 'end' key? Etc... Bring back my pc!)

For those of you still interested, Thursday evening's foray into my past life went pretty much as expected. Husband was late home, (knew I should have booked a babysitter) I spent the hour before I left dodging the ever-present trail of snot from Boy 2, and Boy 1 demanded to know why I was prettied-up, and if I was going to a hotel. As I always do on a Thursday night, clearly.

Then it rained between the tube and the bar, and having left my umbrella at home in the interests of appearing less mumsy (which was rather beside the point since I was still prepared for all eventualities, with handkerchiefs and wet-wipes spilling out of my handbag), I arrived looking less polished than I had hoped for...

Once there, of course the main question on my ex-colleagues lips was "What are you doing now?" I toughed it out and answered truthfully.... "Staying at home with my children".

Cue pause.

In some cases, quite a long one.

The women (both with and without children) clearly thought I was mad, whilst all the men were impressed. The gender divide is alive and well, I'm sorry to say....

What was interesting, however, was my reaction to both points of view. With the women, when they waxed lyrical about time spent with the children, being a good mum etc, I played up the down and dirty side of being a SAHM. Snot was mentioned. Pooh may have been referred to. Crushing boredom may even have been touched on. And the toilet door joke (see my profile) popped out more than once. I mean, whilst I strongly believe I've made the right choice for our family to put my career on hold, I'm very much aware that for most people it's simply not a financially viable option. Whilst I complain incessantly on this blog, underneath the bluster I believe that I'm very fortunate, frankly, that I have the chance to do this. So the last thing I wanted to do was to rub the noses of women who couldn't make that same decision in the fact that yes, my being home is working out well for us.

With the men, my 1980's feminist conditioning - and the double vodka and tonics I had been drinking since I arrived - took over... After an evening of platitudes, nodding sagely when middle-aged men misted over at the thought of mummy greeting them at the school gates, and holding my tongue mainly because if I ever want to go back to work, I will probably be reporting to them, I had had enough. When some poor young, unmarried guy reminisced about how his mum stayed home and did 'the most important job in the world', I couldn't help it. I pointed out that when he reached that stage, (never mind the 'if' he reached that stage), he and his partner may not be able to afford to survive on one salary. That the mother of his child may not want to stay home. That it is not always the best option for the happiness of the family. And mainly, why assume it should be her in the first place? Surely he would be just as capable of changing a nappy? And so on...

Luckily, he was a) quite drunk (which if I'm honest, so was I), and b) not that senior. I think I got away with my rant.

And then I left the party a little early to sway home on the tube, in order to make Tesco's before it closed to pick up the milk for the boys.

Well, somebody had to.

I am woman, hear me roar...


aims 22 March 2008 at 16:52  

Good for you! Roar away!

I'm glad you held your head up proudly when people asked what you are doing now....piss on those who looked down their noses at you! They obviously have no clue what real life is all about....

Proud of you girl!

aims 22 March 2008 at 16:53  

btw - I just nominated this post for Post of the day over at authorblog...


Iota 22 March 2008 at 17:58  

I find this whole issue so complex. By the time I've worked out what I think, my kids will be grown up and it'll be irrelevant.

My oldest is now nearly 11, and it feels as if the whole atmosphere has changed. People used to ask "are you going back to work?" more than "are you going to stay at home?" - I think it's the other way round now. It's nursery funding for 3 and 4 year olds that's made the difference, I'm sure. That and the ever-upward motion of house prices demanding 2 salaries.

Um. Wish I could say something highly intelligent at this point.

I'm so glad you confess to boredom. I thought we SAHMs weren't allowed to do that. I thought we had to pretend we loved it all. I'm feeling a weeny bit liberated by reading your post (not quite as liberated as having a week-end away in New York, you understand, but you'll forgive me that). I'll click on the site a few times, to raise your numbers.

Potty Mummy 22 March 2008 at 18:03  

Thanks, Aims, and thanks for the nomination! But you know what the best thing about it all was? I actually didn't really care what they thought about my decision. I've come a long way from those career-driven pre-kid days...

Hi Iota, just kidding about the numbers, obviously. I mean,who would be so shallow as to care...?(!)
And yes, I wish, wish, wish I knew the answer. Not sure there is one, really. I guess you just need to find the way that works for you - and then be prepared to re-assess the situation if it ever changes. But I freely admit that nothing - NOTHING is as liberating as child-free weekend in New York...

jennifer h 22 March 2008 at 18:24  

I have been staying home with my kids as well, and have many of the same feelings about it as you expressed. Good for you for standing up for your decision.

And, yes, I live for child-free weekends, too (not that I get many of them).

Grit 22 March 2008 at 19:30  

but you did get to speak to adults! real, live, grown up people who don't scream and stab each other with forks? that's a pretty enviable evening out...

Expatmum 22 March 2008 at 19:37  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Expatmum 22 March 2008 at 19:39  

Sorry - that was me and bad speeling above!!!
I am supposed to work from home, but with a 4 year old in school half days, that's a bit of a joke at the moment. However, what I find shuts a lot of people up is when I say "Oh I couldn't ever work for anyone else again. Why line someone else's pockets?"

Thalia's Child 22 March 2008 at 21:10  

Man, I've been at home half the time you have, and I would have reared up and given guff to anyone who bleated on about it too!

2 other things:

1) I have the same issue getting used to using a PC. I'm spoiled in the other direction, by my Macs

2) I always get so stupidly excited when people refer to places that I know my family came from. My gramma's family came from Somerset. I know. I'm lame. But totally excited.

3) I love that you got drunk and honest.

(Okay, that's three things, but whatever)

Potty Mummy 22 March 2008 at 22:20  

Hi Jennifer H, thanks for the visit, and as for the child-free weekends? Find me a SAHM (who's had a drink or two) who doesn't think they are a good thing...

Hello Grit - well, I didn't see any stabbing with forks but I did leave shortly after 11 so who knows? The night was still young.

EPM - comment noted and written down in my diary for future use!

Hi Thalia's child, drunk and honest - that's me. But not as much as I used to be, really m'lud... As for Somerset, well, I can't claim to have come from here originally, but my parents live here now, and I have to say, it's worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the UK. (But then so are so many other places).

Tracey 23 March 2008 at 01:16  

I second the nomination for post of the day.

Well said, well put in each scenario. Much of that rings true to me, except that I was never in a career type job to start with.

Why is it, though, that I was never ever ever asked 'are you staying home?'. The question is always "Are you working?".. and I have to come out with a stuttery "ah, no... "

Sweet Irene 23 March 2008 at 02:56  

I stayed home with my kids and never made any sort of a career and was not fit for the employment market in any way when they had grown up and I was divorced. I should have used the time while they were growing up to get a better education and then to get some work experience.

You never know what all the eventualities will be.

Hopefully, you are better prepared and will be able to step back into a good job when it is your time to do so.

It is nice, though, to be able to stay home and care for the children, but they are not the only things that matter and life is short and they are grown up and gone soon enough.

Carolyn 23 March 2008 at 07:23  

Great post. I feel the same way. Right down to the 2 years - ooops, make that 3 years - since I've been to the loo with the door closed.

Despite the protests on my blog, I too am lucky to be able to stay at home with our daughter. It's getting harder and harder for families to live on just one income. We're fortunate to be able to afford it.

And I agree with iota - I feel liberated to hear other SAHMs talk about boredom. It's painfully boring sometimes, especially if you were a career woman before settling down with a child.

Anyway... I'm rambling. Thanks for the post.

Potty Mummy 23 March 2008 at 12:06  

Thanks Tracey. And I've given up on the stuttering. I am no longer embarrassed by being a SAHM, so have determined to say it loud and proud. (For the moment, anyway, until the next crisis of confidence hits!)

Hi Irene, I totally agree, it's vital to have more than one string to your bow. Am working on maintaining mine!

Carolyn, it's good to hear other mums agree. Of course it's not always boring - it's not even usually boring - but it can be sometimes. And then I think of my desk, the phone calls, the e-mails, and the water cooler chats and sigh...

plumsource 23 March 2008 at 22:48  

I really enjoy your blog and I LOVE this post! I didn't guess the other lady was you. It's so true! I was SO judgemental before having kids.

I used to think that people said "I'm a full time mum" just to make themselves feel better about staying home to watch daytime telly. Yeah right!

Frog in the Field 24 March 2008 at 08:05  

Hi Potty,
Tesco's? You clearly had too much to drink!

(you have made such a success of your Blog, well done!)

Potty Mummy 24 March 2008 at 14:58  

Hi Plumsource, thanks for the visit and yes, isn't it shaming to look back on ourselves pre-kids and prejudices then? I would just LOVE the chance to sit around watching daytime tv all the time. Or at least, I would if it were any good!

Frog, don't worry, standards aren't slipping. It was just that Tesco is opposite the tube station, it was raining, and even I am not snobbish enough to walk 10 minutes out of my way to the nearest Sainsbury without an umbrella. (But of course I ripped the labels off the milk cartons the moment I got home).

And thank you, you are so sweet. Now, if only I could find time for the to-do list as well...

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