I have three sons - 3.5, 2.5 and 4 months whom I love and adore immensely. When they were born, we made the decision that they were to be cared for at home, not to be sent to child care "because you don't have kids for someone else to look after" is how my DH put it at one point.
So I did. And I hate it. Coming into my fourth year and I feel as though I'm working towards a tombstone rather than a milestone.
Since turning in my work card, I have found that, largely, we SAHMs are supposed to be forever grateful for be able to stay home, to grovel at the foot of the Home Care Goddess because we have been spared the grindstone of full-time work. That we should count ourselves fortunate, that we have what so many others don't and if you complain or air dissatisfaction with life in any way then you're a cow.
I'm not grateful at all. I think being a SAHM sucks, actually. I feel like a numpty. My brain is used to navigate dishwashing versus nappy changing, feeding, burping, cleaning and making really important decisions such as whether I should be using the broom or steam mop in the kitchen today...
I used to have responsibilities. I used to interact with other adults daily, engage in healthy discussions and enjoy close friendships. I was appreciated and recognised for doing a job well done. Nowadays, if I don't get the entire house clean and the kids mopped up I think to myself, crikey, what have you been doing all day? Worse, if someone else asked me that, the most I could come up with is a fight I had with the vacuum cleaner or why milk fed vomit is so hard to get off the carpet.
I wish The Wiggles would go and wiggle themselves to death, I wish to god Thomas the Tank Engine would roll off a pier and die, Bookaboo could read a fkg book and get over it and The Wot Wots...well I'm sure there's an institution for them somewhere.
My usual outfit is sparkly Slumbies and trackies..which I take pride in keeping clean. Although when I venture out to the library I do put a nice top on. Hair? Makeup? What's that? Haha.
I used to venture to mother's club and a playgroup. But I stopped going to the first when all I heard was incessant chattering about all the stresses of being a SAHM, how it's such a busy job with barely time left to brush your hair and how there was just no time in the day to enjoy "me" time and how can you be so selfish for even thinking you could have time away from the kids. Why I stopped going to playgroup is much simpler: one of mums asked me what was wrong with my eldest child. As in, "He looks a bit slow. What's wrong wiv 'im?" And that's another thing. Hanging around deadbeats is not good for the soul.
And I don't care what Jesus would do. I'm conscious enough about obtaining financial benefit from the government. I don't need to live the stereotype.
So once I got over the comment about my slow child, I stopped listening to DH's denials and did what I should have done a year ago: I had him formally assessed. Hehasautism. There. Got it out. Yes, I'm in denial. He has a language problem, I say to myself. Those repetitive behaviours are just a childhood thing...maybe if I paid more attention when he was 19 months and started losing words he would have gotten over them quicker. Yes. It's like that. DH feels the paediatrician and the OT and the ST got it all wrong. Not his boy. Not on our watch. The professionals tell me I must send him to child care. That he must interact. That he must be part of a program. But I don't want to let my little boy go. I want him to stay home with me forever. Let's not mention our second child at this point who is exhibiting symptoms on the darker side of the spectrum that quietly terrify me.
Then I remember how bloody boring it is at home. The endless cycle of housework, routine feeding, washing, cleaning, feeding, games, books, tv, feeding...and the same thing the next day and the day after that.
To be honest, I want to go to work. I feel I'd be more useful there. In the last few years I've felt my brain shrink and realizing that I'll be a SAHM for another few years just fills me with dread. Mentally it's mind numbing. Financially, it's hard to swallow. I can't even keep a house clean while being home all day. I don't earn any money and the likelihood of ever working again is like watching a mist fade off into the distance.
So aside from the mundane coffee dates, flying around the house in repetitive, cloth wielding circles, what I hate the most is the pressure from other mothers and society to be perfect and that I must love being a SAHM or risk being called an ungrateful b.itch. Women suffer guilt enough as it is as mothers and constantly worrying if we are doing a good job because all we can do is compare ourselves to one another. I'm just not suited to day long day care.
In a few words, being a SAHM sucks.
I have never actually aired any of this aloud before because of the fear of being judged, categorised, belittled.
And then being asked, "Well what possessed you to have kids then?"
I have my Kevlar vest on. You may fire at will.