Mummy’s In A Half State.

‘Quality Time’. The ultimate phrase that basically kicked off the era of parent guilt.

My kids are now 9 and 3. While most parents seem to lament every year, month, week that passes I would place myself firmly at the other end of the scale. I relish every week, month, and year that passes. If that sounds callous, hear me out.

Kids Rock

Kids are awesome! Unless you spend a significant amount of your time around children (which I’m sure most of us here do, actually) it would be difficult to accurately describe how astoundingly amazing the little beastlings are.

They learn at a rate of knots, and all at once. While us dinosaur adults need to focus on one skill at a time, children are constantly learning. They draw upon every tiny experience and they’re always looking for more.

Let me pause here to make it clear that I am not talking about school. My 9 year old who has been a proficient reader for years now when faced with a change of teacher exclaimed ‘What if the new teacher doesn’t give us as much reading time?!’ also is the person who reads the least out of us all at home. Including my 3 year old. But even though she chooses not to read at home yet confesses to love it at school she is still constantly learning and changing. Not all learning comes from books.

…my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week.

Anyway, I digress, my point is that my kids really astound me. Watching them learn and grow is genuinely incredible. My 3 year old can tell you the name of almost every dinosaur just because he’s really interested in dinosaurs and my 9 year old showed me this amazing video about climate change last week. Her world view is changing and her thoughts are beginning to reach more outside of herself. Whilst my 9 year old considers how big the world is and her possible place within it, my 3 year old is practising gross motor skills. He likes playing football and catch. Most recently, he’s really into sorting and measuring. He sorts his cars into colour groups and tips things from one container to another to see what happens, completely independently. We saw a stick insect today and he asked if he could touch it. I mean, he had no clue if it would bite, jump, or sting, he just decided ‘I wanna know what that thing feels like’. I love it.

Babies are cute and all but…

I must confess to feeling a bit confused when people say they miss their babies. Especially when they’re still only little kids. I mean, I can imagine wanting to jump back a few years when you’re dealing with teenagers! I think I’m a bit peculiar in this way and I don’t mean they shouldn’t say it at all, in fact I think it’s really sweet but when I remember my kids as babies I feel like I had that time and it was good at the time, you know?

Another indisputable plus is that the bigger they get the more freedom I have. Breastfeeding has stopped and I’m no longer the only person in the whole world who can put my son to bed. I can explain to him that I’m going out and I will be back for bedtime, or Daddy will put him to bed that night and he understands that.

I can arrange an evening coffee with a friend. I can do a ten week evening course. I can go for a weekend breakfast date with another friend. I can take a ten minute shower in the day while he plays with his toys. I even went to Venice for two nights. And I bloody loved it.

I Am Home

“I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung.”

BUT. What is this post about – Mummy’s in a half state? I am still the main carer. Numero Uno. I’m a stay at home mum while my husband works full time. It’s the way we’ve always done things since we had our first baby all those 9 years ago. That is pretty amazing in A LOT of ways (see above) but it also means that I’m the fall guy. As in, I am base, I am home, I am the maypole around which all the ribbons are strung. I am unmovable, reliable, constant. The top end of my allocated range is a two night city break.

Let me just intercept this bit here by saying…I really wouldn’t like to have it any other way. My kids are my life and fuck anyone who says they shouldn’t be.

I’m Not All There

I’ve realised that a lot of the time I’m with the kids I’m in a half state. Half reading a story, half folding laundry. Half washing dishes, half dancing in the kitchen. Half making a meal, half playing cars. I’m hardly ever all there. My attention is not all theirs. When Daddy is home that’s the only time there is a possibility I’ll get a break from 24/7 mum-ing. I might go upstairs to write or have a bath or meet a friend for a coffee.

If it’s been a trying week I might bury my face in my phone rather than get us out to the park (and then feel guilty about it). Or if I’ve had a titful of laundry and making meals and all the other stuff I might say to myself ‘right, now I’m going to sit down and have a break and go on Instagram’ whereas my 3 year old is thinking ‘Mum I’ve been entertaining myself all this time you’ve been faffing about and now I need some attention’.

We have the best time when we’re out of the house together and I’m free from the distraction of menial house labour. Even though feeling the pressure to wash up or get tea ready when we get back is inevitable.

Quality Time

We always have great fun in the summer holidays and I think that’s why, because we get out a lot and go on days out together. Marvelling at the beetles and running down inclines, feeding goats, touching stick insects and going on bumpy tractor rides.

Maybe that’s partly why I love holidays so much as well, because we’re all together and we’re all present in the moment. Or as the ‘parenting experts’ from 2006 might tell you, spending quality time.

So yeah, sorry kids you’ve been speaking to a half me all this time, I promise I meant to give you my all.

P.S. Am I the only one who reads this title as ‘Mummy’s in a half state – turtle power!’??

Everything’s Rosy, Thanks!

Except the days when it’s not and I feel more like staff. The tired list of tasks on replay in my mind. Planning to spend time with my daughter when the baby naps. Wondering when the best time will be today to have a shower. Not speaking to another adult for an entire day. Being a stay at home mum should be easy, but sometimes it’s just hard.

Everything’s Fine.

Ask me how I am and I will say good, because things are good. My husband goes to work every day to a job he enjoys, he earns a good wage and I quit work 7 years ago to stay home and raise our kids. Together we’ve made a nice home, we have nice friends, we go to church every Sunday as a family. There is nothing ‘wrong’. I will tell you things are good because they are, and because I can’t quite put my finger on what isn’t.

 

 

Everything's Rosy, Thanks!

 

Homeschooling my 7yr old and caring for my 15month old baby means my days are busy and filled with the over-riding sense that not one of us is quite getting their needs fully met. If I’m singing with the baby my 7yr/o is watching YouTube. When I’m teaching my daughter, the baby is pulling my trouser leg for attention. When I’m cooking or cleaning, they’re both watching Peppa Pig. If there is any pause in the day I can guarantee it is some kind of meal time. Meals which take me time to make (and I hate cooking) then battle with my daughter to eat and at the end throw most of the food away anyway.

Feeling Valued

My list of tasks -usual stuff like laundry- conflicts with the real reason I’m home which is to spend time nurturing my kids. Chiding myself that I even want to waste time on the house while simultaneously feeling the most accomplished I have all week when it’s mess-free. Feeling resentful that such menial tasks are my only way of feeling valued. Breastfeeding a toddler to sleep whilst typing one handed.

Things are good, overall. But sometimes the day-to-day can get me down. It goes without saying that I am so grateful for my family. I thank God for them every day, lots and lots of times a day.

I don’t have much to moan about when my life’s biggest stressor is whether or not to brave the supermarket with two kids in tow. But I seem to have managed it anyway! There are much bigger things to worry about but sometimes it’s just harder than it looks from the outside looking in. I can kindly give myself the grace to say that is OK, and you can too.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Validation.

My husband said something really interesting to me the other day. It wasn’t so much what he said so much as the way he said it that struck me.

He told me that he thinks that what I do being a stay-at-home-mum is much harder than what he does going to work. Ahh how lovely, right? Which is what I usually think and carry on with my day but this time it was something about the way he said it that made me realise he actually genuinely means it.

The conversation was nothing to do with our home life, he was talking to a friend at work about paternity leave. This friend and his wife are sharing maternity leave so he was asking for advice about how much time would be good to take off work. So they were chatting about it and Rich said I wouldn’t like to stay off too long (back hackles up) because what my wife does is much harder than what I do (phew rescued yourself there son). Now, I have heard him say this before and always just thought that’s nice of him. But I could see he really meant it this time (mostly because he was laughing that said person was naively shocked that stay at home parenting is hard). But I was quite taken aback. I realised that all this time he’d actually meant it! And I felt really proud of myself!

Gin

Some days are easier than others.

Rich gets a lot (a lot) of validation at work. He works hard and is good at his job. As it’s a sales job when he hits his targets he gets bonuses, if he wins a big account his phone buzzes with well done messages from his team, there is a camaraderie and ‘in’ jokes and nicknames and so on and so on. But sahm mum’s don’t get that. Nobody ever walks past me doing the laundry and says “great job Kate, I see you are going out of your way to boil wash the sicky muslin, well done not slacking and just doing a quick 40 wash.” I don’t get a text message from my mate calling me Mrs Wonderflaps saying “Well done you’re killing this whole motherhood thing” and I certainly don’t get vouchers at Christmas or a bottle of fizz. But did I ever get that kind of pat on the back in my old job in the office? Not really. Do any of my hard slogging wonder mummy friends get any kind of notice in their day jobs or their home lives “You just helped that older person with dementia get the right care package and you’re an amazing mum too, here’s a £100 bonus.”

Award

He actually got a real life trophy.

I had my first ever PR invite for the blog a couple of weeks ago (keep your eyes peeled) and I was so excited. It felt good to have a little validation from outside the home. As a stay at home mum a pat on the back isn’t usually on my radar. I love staying home with my children, and I truly feel so happy to be able to. We work as a team in our house and I really do feel like that. But there was definitely something special in realising that my husband thinks I’m awesome. There was definitely a spark of excitement to receive an email about my blog because it’s something only I have done. And there was definitely something special about nagging my 6 yr old to keep her room tidy because I just cleaned it and getting the reply “Thanks Mum”.

Dear Bear and Beany

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday