Following on from last night's post about my radio superstar moment, I thought I'd add a few thoughts about the caller who spoke directly after me. If you didn't hear it, this is an edited transcript.
The Nova 100 breakfast team, Hughesy and Kate (with Ed Kavalee), posed the question, "Is stay-at-home parenting boring?" The tone of the entire show is a humourous one and I rang and responded in kind.
Angie, how would you describe it? It is batshit boring. I have two sons. One's four and one's almost two. And of course, they're the love of my life but if I have to play dinosaurs one more time, I'm gonna kill myself.
How do you cope, Angie? Well, you know, I drink. And I started a blog because I needed to reach out to other mums and say, "Are you gonna kill yourself, too?" I just didn't want to be alone anymore.
Okay. So I was joking – sort of. The next caller was Lee, diametrically opposed to me, naturally.
What about you, Lee? How boring is it? It's not at all. I love it. Absolutely love it. I've raised four kids. I've got three boys and a girl, a little girl. And I disagree with Ange. I just think if you don't want to do it, don't have kids. Yeah, there is the repetitive stuff but you know, at the end of the day, for such a short time of your life, they're only young for such a little time.
She then goes on to talk about how she fills her day with pick ups and drop offs, canteen duty etc. And how when she sees people with toddlers and babies, she feels sad that her children have outgrown that stage.
She closes by saying, "I just think if you're not in it for the long haul and you don't enjoy it, don't have 'em."
To which Kate Langbroek, god bless her, replied, " Oh, we're in it for the long haul, believe me. We're just saying, Lee, we didn't realise how long the long haul was going to be!"
I have no doubt that Lee is genuine in what she says. That being a mum has completely fulfilled her. And if that is true, how wonderful for her because those days of stay-at-home parenting are long. Really, really long.
Like Kate Langbroek said, Lee is the bedrock of our society. And good on her.
But there was a time not so long ago that if a woman described her days as anything less than the traditional utopia of the good wife and doting mother myth, she was looked upon as some kind of freak. Mums who didn't hold it together were 'closet drinkers' or 'one crack-up away from the funny farm.' Or worse still, not maternal.
The very worst thing for women at home caring for a family is to feel they can not be honest about the ups and downs of that journey. My mum is forever telling me how having an online community of mothers would have helped her so much. She sees how having this connection with other mums, some from the other side of the world, is tremendously helpful in coping with the reality of being a mum. Despite a myriad of differences between us, being a mother binds us to one another, and we come to understand that some things are universal.
Being able to tell the truth about motherhood, about the monotony of being at home, to share stories of PND and sleepless nights, to rejoice over baby milestones and support one another through the trauma of potty training – we are all so much richer for having these connections at our fingertips.
I don't judge Lee for being giddy about filling her days with canteen duty and soccer practise. I don't get it but I don't judge her.
So it offends me that she assumes that women who aren't thrilled by the prospect of turning into a cooking, cleaning taxi for their children are any less of a mother than she.
Motherhood is a real job and it's fucking hard. And sometimes, I don't want to do it anymore.Those feelings don't negate the beautiful moments. They don't erase the great work I do as a mum to my boys.
And actually, in admitting that, in sharing those feelings and giving them a voice, I can better process them and move forward.
I am a stay-at-home mum, I am on the frontline, day in and day out, raising my kids and feeling blessed to be able to do so. But I look forward to a time when they are more independent.
Yes, this time of their life is, in the grand scheme, short and yes, it's precious and I will look back at photos of my babies and get all misty-eyed but that doesn't change the simple fact that sometimes, it's shitful. Boring, stressful, frustrating, annoying, exhausting, boring, boring, mania-inducing and also, boring.
A mother pretending all is rosy while quietly stewing in desperation and resentment? Is dangerous.
Good on Lee and all the mums like her. How lucky they are to be so satisfied. I could do without the self-satisfaction though.
And to the other mums who adore their children, feel so blessed to have them and yet, occasionally feel like running away, even just to sit alone in their car where no sticky little hands can pull and demand and need and want, good on you, too. Being a mum is a huge part of our lives but it is not our sum total. Our own needs and wants count. Any time I can take mine out for a spin, I am a happy woman.
The biggest gift you give your children is to demonstrate who you are outside of the role of just being Mum. It's a sacred and important role but it co-exists with another person who is an individual with thoughts and feelings, hopes and goals all of their own. Teach your child that she is important, too. Because she is.