What do you do all day?

14 Mar

Someone recently said to me “I’m so over work; I can’t wait to have kids and let other people look after me”. Once I’d picked my jaw off the floor, and wiped the piteous look of “oh love, how misguided you are” from my face I felt pretty annoyed. The truth is, if someone had asked me 6 months ago I would have chosen full time work over full time parenthood any day of the week. Looking after kids 24/7 was so much harder than any job i’d had. Even the ones i’d really hated. I read somewhere once that the constant whines for attention from a child work in similar ways to chinese water torture. Ok so this is probably a bit over the top. However I don’t think i’d be exaggerating to describe the worst days as “emotionally traumatic”.

Try and get friends who’ve never experienced it to understand. Impossible. To be fair, what do you expect when every time they ring and ask what you’re doing the reply comes back “I’m in the coffee shop” or “I’m at indoor play”? You can hear the pause as they try to reconcile the nightmarish existence you’ve told them about with their present mental image of you frolicking around the ball pit laughing maniacally.

The truth is, full time parenthood challenges you to your very being. For almost every second of a 12 hour “working” day you have to put your own needs on hold while you pamper to the demands of the most unreasonable and demanding of customers. All this while staying calm and fair. Xist I’ve had days where i’ve put off going the loo for 4 hours because my toddler just would not be put down.

So, Ms Tacoma, what do we do all day? Constantly fall short of our own expectations. And it is thoroughly exhausting. No wonder we don’t want to pick up the phone and talk to “friends” like you.

6 Responses to “What do you do all day?”

  1. bsouth March 15, 2010 at 7:20 am #

    I think I will send this post and the newspaper clip to all my childless friends, plus my family! I’ve never been able to vocalise so eloquently what it is that is so hard about being a stay at home mother.

  2. Rachel Frowd March 15, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    I agree. I admire anyone who can calmly reply to that sort of unintelligent, uninformed, and completely maddening point of view! I was reaching for the sledgehammer as a means of reply!

  3. Kristin March 16, 2010 at 3:31 am #

    After just spending the weekend listening to a couple of childless friends go on about childrearing, I think I needed to read this!

    I stayed home with my children for a couple of years but had a very difficult time of it. I now work full-time at a demanding professional job and, yes, it is easier than it was staying home with small children. No one can know this unless they’ve experienced it. Thanks for your eloquent post.

  4. hpretty March 16, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    Thanks Kristin. I’m really glad you seem to have found a situation that suits you. I was nervous about writing this post because I didn’t want to negate the fact that being a working mum is incredibly difficult too, in many ways. It’s just that nothing compares to the psycholgical demands of looking after small children 24/7. Having said that I think i’ve grown more as a person in the past 6 months than I have in a very long time.

  5. Jenni March 16, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    I saw this when it was originally printed. I think it is hard for people without kids, or people who’ve never been home full time, to understand how truly constant the job of a stay-at-home-parent is. Not to mention no sick or vacation days.

  6. Jenni March 16, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    Oh, Barb sent me over, and I’m adding you to my reader. Great blog!

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