Posts tagged “stay at home mum

I don’t know how you do it

Posted on 27 October, 2015

Untitled 2

Recently I met an acquaintance who is a full time nurse and a mum. The last time I met her I was still on maternity leave and I was still firmly  on the fence about whether or not I wanted to go back to work. So after a bit of chit chat she asked if I had gone back to work. I explained that I had decided to stay at home instead and luckily I was enjoying it so far.

What followed was an exaggerated version of something that I hear a lot. She was just more zealous than most.

It went a little something like this:

” Oh a stay- at-home Mum, that’s great, wow. Is it still just the one you have?”

“Yeah, he’s two and a half now”

“Wow, great. God I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t. I mean I couldn’t do it. God, no way. Staying at home all day; I’d go mad. Absolutely insane. At home ALL day, wow. There’s no way I could do it. Straight after my maternity leave I was back to work. I love working. God, there’s no way I could stay at home. Wow, I’d go off my game. I just can’t imagine it. Fair play to you though”.

The woman is lovely and I’m positive no harm was meant by what she said but the retort that was on the very tip of my tongue was:

” Yeah I know. I think it must be my low IQ that lets me be able to do it. I reckon I’m just dim enough that  I can stay at home all day so it works out really well”. ( Then I’d wander off absent-mindedly singing ABC to myself).

In real life I smiled politely and changed the subject.

Maybe I’m blessed with a fertile imagination but I can definitely imagine working full time and being a parent. I can imagine it’s bloody hard but nevertheless it’s within my realm of comprehension. But her response is typical of so many other responses I’ve heard where the mere thought of staying at home is incomprehensible. ” I really don’t know how you do it”. Surely it’s imaginable, they are parents after all. They parent daily, what’s not to get?

I will concede that there may be a bit of paranoia at play on my part and maybe I should take what she said at face value. Judging by the number of wows included in her sentences she is impressed. Maybe I should just think “I’m impressive, isn’t that great” But mostly I’m pretty confident that the subtext of our chat was ” My God, I can’t imagine staying at home, I’d lose my mind with the boredom of it. Being at home would rot my brain”.

I’m still deciding how this conversation is meant to go . Maybe I’m missing an obvious cue and we are meant leap into a self deprecating volley.

“I don’t know how you do it”

“Oh staying at home is easy.I don’t know how you do it”. “

“Oh work is nothing, I just don’t know you do it”.

Or should I go into an elaborate explanation of how exactly I do it.

“I don’t know how you do it”

” Well, Monday morning the day normally starts at about 7 and then …”

It’s funny how something that sounds like a compliment can leave you feeling like you are doing something insane with your life. I’m not walking on water I’m staying at home with my child.  Similarly working parents are working and parenting. Both are pretty simple scenarios to imagine.I would have thought. I’ve yet to nail down my response to the next unfortunate person who say “I don’t know how you do it” I might just go with a simple understated  “aaarrggghhh” and walk off. Classy and concise.

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Numbers, numbers,numbers

Posted on 31 March, 2014

I tried to take a selfie but got distracted by a rugby match

Yesterday was Mother’s Day here and naturally enough I was thinking about my mum and how I don’t tell her often enough that I love her, need her and my world would be lost without her.

I’ve also been thinking recently about what it means to be valued as a mum and where that validation comes from. As a stay at home mum I find I’m struggling with the job title.

I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in years last week and he asked if I was up to anything other than “the obvious”, as he pointed towards Ewan in the pram. I couldn’t stop spilling out words about the blog and running a small etsy shop. I felt desperate for him to know that I was doing more than “the obvious”.

My reaction has been nagging me since. I have been thinking about why I have the blog and why I have the shop. I often say that it’s so I have something happening outside of caring for Ewan. When I met him I felt it was more about having something to tell people, I haven’t gone back to work but I have a blog!!

The reality is caring for Ewan is my full time job, the rest is squeezed in. It is nearly half one o’clock on Sunday night. The house is asleep but I’m sitting up typing.

If it was only about having a something for myself outside of Ewan, I would be in bed. I would spend my spare time doing something crafty, I would read, I would exercise, I would take photographs, take a long bath, read a magazine, study something, take a class or do any of a range of “me time” things that are on offer.

One reason is probably be validation. Validation that my choices are right, validation that I’m interesting and that I can take a nice photograph occasionally.

The validation script is meant to go something like this.

The numbers on the blog are going up,so people are engaging with my writing and pictures, so I made the right choice. Someone bought something from my shop, so they like my taste, so I made the right choice. Someone has published my post, so I wrote something worthy of publishing, so I’ve made the right choice.

When your at work you’ve different sources of external validation, employers, clients and colleagues.

But for me I’ve never been very good at receiving validation no matter what form it came in. Someone once said that my boss could tell me I was a fantastic employee and the company would fall down without me but I would dismiss the compliment in a heart beat. I would query the tone in which it was said, did she mean I had been a highly valued employ until recently? Did she mean the company would fall down without me because I’m over stepping my brief?

It is similar with blogging. I dismiss numbers because they are only numbers. Many of the numbers are robots scanning the internet and so they don’t count anyway. People buy my things because every once in a while I get lucky.

What I’m having to remind myself is that none of that matters and no amount of numbers or sales will make me feel validated. If less people look at the blog on a Monday then a Tuesday (which they do) does that mean Monday I’ve made the wrong choices but Tuesday it’s all good?

When I joined twitter recently the first thing I noticed was that people unfollowed me. Regardless of the fact that the number was going up I wanted to try and figure out how many people had unfollowed me! It is absolute madness.

If I hinge my validation on numbers I’ll be a crumbling mess with repetitive strain injury in my thumbs within a few months.

Yesterday Mum made it all so much clearer.

She said  “I saw Ewan painting on the blog, He looks so happy, you’re doing a wonderful job”.

And there it was, as simple as that. I’m happy, that is my validation.

I write until well after my bed time because I like doing it. I like sorting through the day, the week, in my head and sharing it with you.  I take photographs in the freezing cold because I like to take up my camera. I buy vintage items because I like them and I love looking for them. I decide to make an epic mess with Ewan painting because it might be fun.

Ewan is happy. If I worked full time I bet he’d be just as happy. But I know I have made the right choice for me because I am happy. Together our family of three is happy.

Sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. Simple tasks are heart breakingly hard and those are the days that I look more and more at the numbers of the blog. How many people looked today? Did anyone like the post on facebook?

But no matter what the numbers say my day is still going to go one way or another.

All of the number checking on blogger, google analytics, instagram, facebook, twitter has nothing to do with why I started a blog but I’ve made the blog about these things in my own mind.

There is nothing wrong with looking for validation. I need people, I need feedback, I need to know that I’m not rambling in a vacuum, I like when people “like” my post. But by checking the numbers constantly I have taken the fun from something that gave me so much joy to start with.

I have tried not looking but it doesn’t work.

So I’m starting a trial.

I’m going old school. Back to my old Nokia phone and turning off my iphone for a month. I will still promote the blog on facebook and twitter but I won’t have it to hand first thing in the morning, when walking and trying to steer the pram, while the kettle boils, while my laptop starts up etc.

I will miss instagram but I can still look on the laptop I just won’t be able to post pictures.

It’s back to black for me. I’m looking forward to trying to keep my eyes and mind where I want them to be and not getting lulled towards a maze of numbers.

I’ll let you know how the dark ages goes for me. I’m excited and strangely a little nervous!

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