Up until Tuesday I told the world proudly “I am a stay at home mom“. I have had this very well paid and much sought after position now for over twenty years. Even though in the past few years I have worked outside the home six days a week, because I am always here in the daytime I have felt entitled to give myself that title.
However, I realized on Tuesday, Wednesday and today Thursday, that I am in fact not a stay at home mother.
Well you may ask, “Why not?”. Simple I am rarely in the house!
If the last three days are really what it means to be a “stay at home” mother I will never again claim that title.
Let me enlighten you as to what deep thinking has brought me to this point.
On Monday my youngest child became unwell. This is a major event in our house as no one ever seems to get sick. (I put that down to the fact we permanently live as best friends with every germ known to man, but that’s another post.)
On this occasion I knew she was unwell as she came home from school on Monday crying, and between sobs I heard her wonder if she might be dying! So alas she had to stay home from school the following day.
She is still at home now three days later. And so am I. In case you are not getting it, that is three whole days inside my house. Three full days in which I have not left my home.
I have found the days long and it has caused me to remind myself of how my life used to be.
Twenty three years ago I spent my last full day at work. Following the birth of my first daughter I decided I would be the one to look after her. It was a decision I was comfortable with. Until I was faced with the reality of it.
At the time I was in my early twenties, with no car. There was no bus to where I lived and I had no family close by. My husband worked 7am until 7pm. I was very much alone. An inexperienced mother, breastfeeding a young baby. Did I mention we only had three television channels?
The past three days have brought me back to what it was like in those early days, to really be a “stay at home” Mom. Because my little one is unwell I am literally housebound. It can feel as if the world is passing you by. The walls close in and you desperately try to keep yourself active. I can remember at times being so unhappy.
Whilst I admit I am a bit of a mother earth and adore children and being with children, I am not qualified in any other aspect of being a “stay at home” mother. I hate cleaning, cooking, washing or ironing. I am also useless at all forms of art and craft and my baking is not always a huge success. The very things a lot of people assume a “stay at home” mother spends hours doing.
The truth is “staying at home” and mothering is not ideal. However I don’t think many do “stay at home”. Most mothers who do not work outside the home, full or part time, actively live a life alongside their children but also one which has ready access to friends, walks, playgrounds, and playgroups. They do in fact not “stay at home”, but rather do not work outside the home.
In fact the title “stay at home” mother in our modern world is almost redundant. (Do you like what I did there? Redundant, and we never got paid in the first place!)
More and more mothers are working part time, whilst children are at school. Or are working from home, thanks to the internet. Most have cars and many friends and outlets to take them out of the home. Very few women really are “stay at home” mothers.
If truth be told, after these three days, I think my husband would chose for me to always be a “stay at home” mother. The house is clean, the dinner cooked, the laundry up to date and I am in when he rings.
However after three days of this I’ve had enough. I quit. My daughter goes back to school tomorrow.
I will caution myself not to drive off before she actually closes the door of the car tomorrow morning. As I wave her off with a big smile, she will be happy believing it is my expression of joy at her return to health, never knowing it is my Martin Luther King smile, “Free at last, thank God I’m free at last”.