Stay-at-home mums, I feel like I need to apologise. See, I started to get it into my head that you had it easier than working mums, despite the fact that only two months ago, I was one of you.
I went back to work in June after 12 months’ maternity leave, and I’ve found the whole returning-to-work thing a bit of a struggle – rushing out of the house to get the Popple to nursery, putting up with a whinge-fest of a morning commute, working a full day, rushing back to the nursery to pick up the Popple, repeating the morning’s whingy commute, and scrambling to do dinner and bath time before the Popple gets overtired and completely loses her s**t. All the while, I’ve been feeling like I’m not spending enough time at work OR doing mum things, and generally kind of failing at both.
“Stay-at-home mums have it so much easier,” I found myself thinking. “They don’t have to worry about all this work-life balance stuff. They don’t have to pay stupidly expensive nursery fees for the privilege of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. They only have one job, and it’s one that comes with a built-in nap break.”
And then it happened: the Popple got sick while Adrian was out of the country. I had to take three days off from work that week to care for her, and suddenly I found myself in full-time mummy mode again.
Guys, this job is HARD.
I forgot how much effort it takes to care for a small toddler on your own for an entire day. You need to fill the hours from approximately 6am to 7pm with activities. Come up with three semi-nutritious meals and at least two snacks that your child will actually eat. Change their nappy as they scream and try to crawl away from you with poo on their legs. Convince them that they want to take a nap, preferably in their cot but anywhere really, just as long as they f***ing sleep. Let them climb all of you and pull your hair because it’s easier than to put up with that than a tantrum. Make sure they’re not sticking their fingers into sockets, shoving indigestible objects into their mouths, or generally getting into fun-looking-but-super-dangerous stuff.
It’s exhausting work, and it is NOT easier than my job. Writing web content is a piece of piss compared to trying to clean blackberry juice off a toddler.
So SAHMs, I’m sorry I lost sight of how hard it can be. I won’t forget the lesson these past few days have taught me anytime soon.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to all the single parents out there. I was overwhelmed by having to care for a child on my own for four days – how you manage to do it day in and day out is beyond me. Seriously, you guys are superheroes.