Stay-at-home-mum, family manager, family director, domestic goddess, these are all labels given to mothers who choose to stay at home to care for their children rather than work. For me the label doesn’t matter and I don’t spend time worrying about what others think or say regarding the choices Pete and I have made.
I consider myself to be lucky to be able to stay home in order to care for the girls, the house, the finances and myself so that Peter can concentrate on his job. There are many who would like to but financially do not have that choice.
I will be the first to admit there are moments when I’ve felt a little less than fulfilled. I’ve at times compared myself to others and found myself wanting particularly when standing behind a well dressed woman in a supermarket in my track pants with cereal still stuck to them having left the house without glancing in the mirror. I am sure there are those who choose to work who would also, occasionally, have moments of feeling discontented even in their well-groomed state.
I remember years ago (pre losing my brain to motherhood) sitting around the dinner table with friends and having a rather hot discussion about the fact that my choice would be to work and put the kids in day-care. I was slammed for being ‘selfish’. I could not, at the time, imagine staying home for what seemed, at the time, like the most boring job in the world, looking after children. How could I be counted as someone who matters if I wasn’t working? When Molly was born that all changed. It made sense for me to be at home. It gave us freedom; holidays didn’t have to be coordinated, Peter didn’t need to take time off for various unplanned crises, when the family were all together it was better quality time with the household chores all up-to-date.
That’s not to say that Pete doesn’t participate in what the girls are doing, or help around the house, he does. It just means he doesn’t have to worry about what’s for tea, or if the electricity has been paid, or if the girls have been to the dentist lately and so on.
Some may consider that the life of a full time mother is easy, menial or worse, unimportant. I think it is what you want to make it. I consider it like any job. I take pride in finding ways to save money and work hard making our nutrition the best it can be. I enjoy having time to research better ways to do things. I feel privileged to be the one who gets to go to all the school activities to see our girls participating. It is a demanding job that doesn’t start at eight and finish at five; it is spread over twenty four hours in each of the seven days of the week.
Like any mother who works in full time paid employment we full-time mothers also have the challenge of taking out time for ourselves. This is not something I have exceled at but I am getting better. Being at home all the time means the lines are blurred you live where you work and work where you live. To use a well battered, antediluvian phrase “a woman’s work is never done” so squeezing in time to do something for yourself can become something of a scheduling nightmare.
I have often read or heard that full time mothers are stigmatised. I think that often the stigma is more perceived than actual. Personally I have never felt dismissed for making the choice I have, in fact the general sense I get is one of support and respect that comes from the knowledge that the path I have taken is not an easy one.