Friday, May 01, 2009

Work it, a little - or a lot

I have a new found respect for those breed of women who define themselves as Stay at Home Mummies (SAHMs to get with the internet lingo).
I admit I have on many occasions said I respect whatever decision a woman makes and that raising children is as hard as working 9-5 but secretly – like many a working woman, I imagine – I actually thought SAHMs were a bit jammy.
I mean, get up, slouch about in your PJs, watch a bit of Phil and Fern, stick a load in the washing machine, chat to their kiddies and make the dinner. Easy - or so I thought. I could do that, no problem.
I will admit, here and now, I was wrong – and exceptionally na├»ve. While I’m sure there are some SAHMs who do lounge about all day watching the telly (just as there are some employed people who have the uncanny ability to make doing nothing look as if they are working very, very hard), I have realised it is actually quite exhausting being at home all day.
How older generations of mammies did it – with umpteen wains and no labour saving devices like automatic washing machines and vacuum cleaners did it beyond me. Once again Granny, I take my hat off to you. I would be for the funny farm if I had to live like that. My washing machine broke down four weeks ago and I felt as if my right arm had been cut off. I was like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown until my shiny new washer arrived. The poor delivery man was scared – very scared – that I might start crying or otherwise make an eejit of myself in thanks for having the power to clean clothes back in my possession.
There was something lovely about leaving the house first thing in the morning and only returning under the cover of darkness. Somehow you could miss the cobwebs in the evening and the fact that the windows needed cleaning could be ignored.
It’s not so easy when you have to face it all the time.
And when you have two children to run after (not that the baby does much running away, mind) it gets even more fun. Who would have thought a small bundle of pinkness could create so much washing. If she is like this now, I dread to think what she will be like in her teenage years.
While, to accompany this, the boy has taken to leaving to things at his rear end because mammy is home and can clean it up and, to be honest, the husband has started doing the same.
If a woman is at home there is an expectation – no matter how far we think we have progressed into the age of equality – that she will keep that house to a certain standard.
When I have complained of being tired or of being sick of housework the husband has looked at me somewhat incredulously and said “But, you are not working at the moment”.
Not working? Ha! Just because I’m not clocking in at a desk that does not mean I am not working perhaps harder than I ever have. And I’m doing something new – something I’ve never done before and never had any training for. I’ve never been a mum of two before and I’ve sure as heck never had the chance to try and keep a house to such a reasonable standard while caring for more than one other human being at any time. And all for no wages, exceedingly poor holiday entitlement and the added bonus of sleep deprivation.
I’m trying to be a little like Bree Hodge from ‘Desperate Housewives’ – all in control and perfectly on top of things but sadly I’m a little more like Susan – destined for a disaster at every turn.
On top of the baby brain (see column a few weeks back) I’ve managed to break a significant number of household appliances, drop a significant number of glasses and other breakables and realise, sadly, that I am never going to be one of those women other people look at with envy because she is such a good housekeeper.
And I’ve yet to see a complete episode of Jeremy Kyle or Loose Women. My house is relatively tidy and I’m become obsessed with finding the perfect cleaning products and hoovering every square inch of the house frequently.
The upshot of it all is that I don’t get two minutes to myself. Baby comes first, then the boy, then the housework and then writing as I’m still on deadlines for books three and four. Staying at home, an easy task? No chance.


Fionnuala Kearney said...

Bugger the housework! Too tidy a house is a sign of a wasted life! And stick to that until you can get a cleaner! x

Emily Gale said...

Studies have shown that keeping a very slightly grubby, very slightly untidy house is better for the children's health - I know that sounds like the kind of thing I would make up but I didn't!
Yours without her marigolds,
A Fellow Susan

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