Thursday, May 13, 2010

Introspection: a belated post-mother's-day reflection on motherhood

All my adult life I've had a recurring nightmare that I am sitting an exam and don't know any of the answers. I haven't studied, and I don't just mean I haven't done the pre-exam revision. I haven't studied for the whole semester, haven't done any of the reading, sometimes haven't even turned up to class at all. Last night I was sitting a history exam on the Russian Revolution. I couldn't answer a single question, my pencil didn't even write a single thing on the paper. Clearly it's a dream about failure but also I think it's about not reaching my full potential, whether because of laziness, arrogance, fear. Unless of course the dream is some freudian psychosexual exploration (just saying, I'm not a qualified analyst or anything!).

You might be wondering what is triggering my nightmare at the moment given that I'm full time at home with the kids. Well last night I was reading this post about confessions of unclean habits in the kitchen. The post itself wasn't anything that shocking, (though who knew the microwave had a filter???), but the commenters were like a frenzy of piranas attacking the filth of the people confessing. What struck me was the complete lack of compassion or imagination on the part of those criticising that they couldn't conceive of a single situation in which someone may not have the inclination to douse their kitchen in bleach every evening. Those who were defending the behaviour seemed to feel the need to list all the things a modern women has to juggle as an excuse for not having time, full time work, volunteering, caring for sick relatives, lazy husbands etc. It really came across that women didn't feel like raising their kids was enough of a reason to be busy and tired.

I guess in this post-feminist era motherhood isn't really valued in and of itself. We feel pressured to be more and do more. Occasionally childless women (most notably Oprah) will patronisingly and insincerely proclaim that full time mums have the hardest job on earth. Clearly it isn't. I'd hazard a guess and say that trauma surgeons, and counsellors of victims of sexual assault (just to name a few) have harder jobs. On the flip side others seem to assume stay at home mums are sitting around all day watching Jerry Springer and picking fluff from their belly buttons. I myself am guilty of buying into this loafing theory, often introducing myself as 'just a stay at home mum'.

I choose to stay at home because I think I have something valuable to offer my children. I work hard to make our time together productive and worthwhile. I love it and I don't think I'm wasting my intelligence or potential by doing it. I don't think I've sold out or that I'm lazy. Frankly I don't feel like I'm in some holding pen waiting to rejoin my 'real' life when my kids are old enough. That said, I do get tired and my kitchen floor isn't clean enough to eat off (no apologies). I read somewhere that having kids makes your life twice as hard and twice as good. So very true.

Anyway, that's enough navel gazing for one evening. I hope you all enjoyed mother's day on the weekend. The picture at the top of this post is of some canvasses Minty painted for her Grandi for mother's day.

Apologies if this post was a drivelling rant that lead nowhere, but it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to!


  1. And Grandi loves her paintings. You're amazing and right to love being 'just a stay at home mum'. That you have been able to make that choice is a gift to both you and the children, enjoy it. PS - I love your rants, keep them coming.

  2. Agreed. I was amazed by those comments as well, really and truly. The vitriol! It always shocks me that people take the time to add such nastiness to the world. Glad it made you reflect on your own lovely (and loving) choices. :)