It’s been a funny old June here – I mean, it was a funny old June, since we are now in July and I haven’t posted in a whole month.
But you know what, I kinda needed that! The last few months – the last few years – I’ve been posting about how much work I’ve got on. I keep on promising I’m going to sort it out, and then beating myself up a few months later when I don’t.
We mums feel that we need to be the perfect mother – and the world agrees. I mean, just take a look at the 365,342 websites out there dedicated to parenting – and by parenting, I mean mothering. There are a few – very few – aimed at fathers. Which is both a bit sad for poor old dads, who maybe feel they could do with a bit more support, and a bit damn hard on us mums, who seem, by society, to be expected to shoulder 93.6% of the parenting.
Oh, you can talk about the 13.5% of families with the father as the only parent, or the 3.7% of house husbands, or even the 0.32% of mums who will shout out that their partner does more of the parenting than they do. And you can argue with my statistics, which I totally made up.
The point is that statistics and individual case studies aside, the general perception of society is that women should still be the parent viewed as responsible for providing healthy meals, making sure school clothes fit and are clean and ready for the next day, that bags contain packed lunches, PE kits, homework and a book, that permission slips are signed, payments made for trips and photographs, children are collected on time and put to bed at night, that reading happens and projects get painted, and that we fit in playtime and cooking and volunteering for school fairs and . . .
And I want to do all that, perfectly. I want to be the 100% mum. I want to be able to spend hours playing with my kids on weird made up games where I’m over here, yeah, and I’m the teacher, right, and she is the child, okay, and she is going to come in, and then I’m going to be teachery, okay, but then it’s playtime.
And I want to do the reading with him, because I know that you can always tell the children who read at home, you know, it’s very clear whose parents take the time to help them in the early stages. (I know this because I’ve been told, frequently, over the last 8 months since my son started school).
Oh alright, I’ll be honest. I don’t really, because playing these made up games where the scenario is all laid out for me, I’m given lines to follow and I’m told off for ad libbing, really confuse me. And (whispers) they are really fricking boring. And trying to get a 5 year old, who is more stubborn than a beagle with a stolen shoe, to sit down and read at home is soul destroying – although a rather amazing lesson in anger management.
But I should, right, because that’s what a perfect mum would do.
While, at the same time, I want to have a wonderful job that has great prospects, pays fantastic sums of money – and allows me to contribute financially 50% of the household bills and still have spare dosh to treat myself without feeling guilty – and at which I am a recognised expert. Because I like doing things well, and giving them 100% and being really good at them. And you know what, before I had kids, that’s the job I had – for a short time, in my twenties.
And apparently, that’s what women should be doing in these days of equality.
No, I would never change my kids for a job, I’m not saying that. If that’s what you think I am saying, then shut down your judgemental shouty voice and pay better attention.
What I’m saying is that I want both. To be the perfect mum, but also to be perfect at a job that I love doing, for me. How does that song go? I want it all!
What’s worse, I feel like I should be doing it all. Because isn’t that what society says I should be doing?
Or – has society just convinced me that not only should I be doing it all, at apparently 200%, and perfectly, that actually I want to be doing it all.
In the last 2 weeks the long expected loss of one of my main clients has become a fact. This is due to the end of their work influx, and was unavoidable. It happens to coincide with the end of the year’s volunteering as PTA member. The big events are done, the cash has been counted, the end of term is in sight. And the sun came out.
So this week, instead of rushing from bed to keyboard to breakfast to school run to keyboard to planning to school run to shopping to keyboard to cooking to homework to reading to keyboard to bed – you get the idea – I strolled.
And I’ve enjoyed it.
So why is society so fricking hell bent on making us women feel guilty all the damn time? You tell me? I know I am not alone, because we ladies talk to each other. Why do we need to feel that we should want to be everything – perfectly?
We should want to be the all mother, while breaking through that glass ceiling. At the same time obviously not displaying any embarrassing emotions and yet remaining fully aware of our femininity – in an appropriate manner of course.
Goddamn it’s exhausting.
Next week I’m sure I’ll get back to the huge doses of guilt, failure and insecurity that come from being less than 100% mum and less than 100% contributing career lady. But right now, I’m having a week off.
So what am I thankful for this week . . .
1. Apparently, for being potentially out of work.
2. For having been able to help Sackgirl discover the joys of desiccated brains and build a cartonnage sarcophagus together.
3. For spending a whole weekend with family without having a nagging feeling in the bad of my mind that I should be doing something else.
4. For realising that whatever I want to be, it’s not a 100% career woman, actually.
5. For presents – delicious lovely presents arriving all the way from America. 10, in fact, all in a box.
In fact, the rest of my thankfuls will all be taken up with the box, sent to me by the lovely Sarah Summerlin – because who doesn’t love a present. So, if you have been keeping up with previous posts you will know that I somehow won this box, despite not knowing I was in a competition and completely misunderstanding the rules of the competition I didn’t know I was in.
Confused? I was.
Then one day arrived this lovely box, just filled with paper.
And – a little extra homework for my son. It wasn’t even one of the 10 things! A bonus prize!
Yes Sarah, I did open up every piece of packing paper and read it – your kids draw great little pics.
Then I found all of my little gifts, individually wrapped. What a lovely touch.
So I had a lovely little hour to myself, opening each one.
I’ve got to tell you, there was a little fight over the stamp – the kids won. And I did have to put the bouncy ball out of reach because – you know – the puppy.
But I absolutely loved every little thing.
Not only because it was chosen with thought, but also – I really do get excited by stationery (30 minutes in Paperchase last week, and I was dragged out). And look at that cute lion!
But my absolute favourite!
Hello! A really really loud goddamn cowbell.
I’m going to hang it up by the back door and use it to call the kids in for dinner! Except when the cows are in the field – I don’t want them tramping on over too.
Thank you so much Sarah! And sorry it’s taken me a month to say it.