Being a stay at home mum, housewife, whatever term you choose to pin on me, there is a sort of expectation. You can do everything. You have to do everything. You almost have no choice.
You can watch two boys, stop them from eating play-doh, stop them from hitting the cat, hitting each other, running up the stairs, whilst also cooking tea, sorting the washing, ironing....and you are expected to do all this at the same time.
Sometimes I feel only the things I have failed to do in a day are what is noticed. The things I succeeded in doing go unnoticed. Almost like there is a check-list and the things I have managed to achieve are written in such a faint pencil that it's almost like they are not on the list. In thick, bold, right at the top are those few things I didn't achieve.
You could spend all day cleaning up baby and toddler sick, administering regular spoonfuls of Calpol, changing countless nappies and working of calories with the amount of times you have taken your toddler to the toilet. You could feel so drained, stressed, tired and emotional and just want to crash out, or have a cuddle, or be told what a great job you've done at caring for your children that day. But instead all that is highlighted is the fact that.....you didn't load the dishwasher.
Despite being totally busy and not having time to eat or drink at all that day to load the dishwasher, lets not forget that as soon as the dishwasher door is open there is a small baby hand reaching in, go-go-gadget stylee, grabbing the sharpest knife in the cutlery department, bringing it out whilst in slow motion you shout "nooooooooo" and go to grab for said knife, risking slicing your own hand just to save the baby from stabbing himself in the mouth with it or waving it around like a crazy fool!
You try to make dinner way in advance, so it's ready dead on 5.30/6/6.30. Something that would normally take 20 minutes to prepare takes 2 hours, because whilst you are slicing mushrooms, chopping up an onion, wiping tears away caused by the onions, mixing up ingredients, cooking the mince, washing your hands, you have other things to sort out. Changing a nappy, oh he wants milk now, damn he's been sick, clear the sick up, clear the baby up as he's just smeared the sick all over the floor with his hand. The baby is playing with the bin, he's eating food he's got out of the bin, he's covered in yogurt from a yogurt pot he's managed to grab from the depths of the bin. You need to get him changed. The baby is crying, the toddler is crying, the baby has messed up the toddlers train track that it took him ages to build, the baby doesn't want to be shut in another room, the toddler gets shut in another room with the train track, now the baby wants to be held, the baby wants to look out of the window, the baby doesn't want to be held, he wants to get on the floor, as you go to put him on the floor, he wants to get up again. He stands on the floor. "ooooooo! cupboards!" He runs to the cupboard, opens the door. "oooooo soy sauce! that's messy!" He grabs for the Soy Sauce, go-go-gadget stylee, you run for the cupboard, everything is in slow motion, "nooooooooooo" you jump through the air, crash onto the floor, almost catching said Soy Sauce but you miss it, just at it hits the ground, spilling everywhere. The baby splashes in the soy sauce, laughing, clearly seeing the pain in your eyes, outfit now covered in soy sauce. You clear up the baby, he head's straight for the soy sauce spillage and again splashes. Damn. You clear up the soy sauce but the baby is still covered, again, and leaves a trail of soy sauce all over the floor. You clean him up.
He now wants feeding.
You sit on the sofa to feed him before attending to the remainder of soy sauce on the floor.
The door shuts and you realise your husband has popped home for a toilet break.
All he see's is a pile of messy clothes NOT in the washing machine, a spillage of some kind NOT mopped up, peelings and packets on the worktop and food half cooked, NOT tidied away in the bin or ready to be eaten.
All he see's is you, sitting on the sofa doing absolutely nothing, because you can guarantee that as soon as he walks in the baby will stop feeding so you really will just look like you are lazying around and not stopping to do the most important job of the day.
I've lost count of the many times someone has said "I wish I was a stay at home mum so I could sit around and watch Jeremy Kyle (cringe!) and This Morning"
Yes, because that's all we do. I always get to sit, silently, watching This Morning, with a hot cup of tea. Undisturbed.
I don't sit there trying to watch it, with a baby hanging from my leg wanted to play, with a 3 year old asking for "Rhyme Rocket, Mister Maker, Rhyme Rocket, Mister Maker, Mummy can you turn this off? I need to watch Toy Story. No not that Toy Story, the train one, the train Toy Story"
Then, once you put Toy Story on, exhausted from pausing This Morning and getting no further than the titles and simply just wanting to see what Holly Willoughby is wearing that day (or is it only me who does that?), you child walks away, into another room.
Every trip to the toilet is accompanied by a child, or both children. Hairwashing, drying and styling is rolled out over 3 days. It's a real luxury if all three are done in one day.
Infact hairwashing almost becomes a thing of the past. Rather than every third night, as it once was, it's more like every third week.
When friends, fellow mothers, can't even acknowledge the hard work you put in on a daily basis. The hard work that they moan about when they are at home with their child/ren for 3 days out of 7 (the other 4 spent at work) then you can't help but wonder who does actually understand.
Who does notice the hard work you really do?
I haven't even mentioned the fact that when you are poorly people think you are just able to relax on the sofa all day, feet up....because obviously the children will understand and help you out. Of course they don't. You have to get on with it. This makes for a completely separate post though!
I love being a stay at home mum, I really do.
There are so many benefits but then there are the negatives which people don't take into account.
The lack of adult company, the occasional feeling of loneliness, and the lack of understanding for what you actually do every single day. The fact that your job is unpaid. The fact that you are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months of the year. You don't get holiday time.
Me time? What's that? For me, me time would involve getting to have a wee in peace. Or a bath. Oooo a bath in peace, with a book. A distant memory.
I'm not complaining about my job. Yes, its a job. It really is a job. It's bloody hard-work. Work, see, its a job.
But sometimes, a bit more understanding, acknowledgement and just someone noticing the fantastic jobs you've done that day and the things you've sacrificed.
(Please be aware that the above are exaggerated scenarios and although may have happened in real life in some shape or form, are not actually real)