Photo by: Shutterstock

No 'ME' in Mummy

Photo by: Shutterstock

You know that cute little paragraph we all read from time to time on Facebook about how being a mother is a twenty-four hour a day job, seven days a week? How we get no benefits? How our bosses don’t pay us a salary or give us sick days? How we have to be doctors and psychiatrists and teachers and mechanics and electricians and handymen and policemen? You know how we ‘like’ and ‘share’ these little glib paragraphs, and smugly smile because we know that this job is so rewarding and wonderful that it’s worth all the crap that gets thrown at us (often literally)?

Well, I’m not laughing at it today. I’m not liking or sharing. I’m thinking it’s a pretty damn crappy deal I have here, quite frankly.

Now, now, Mrs Judgy, before you start writing to me to tell me I am an unfit mother or that I don’t appreciate my blessings or that I don’t deserve my children, give me a minute, okay? Come here, grab a cup of coffee (you may as well have the one I just made, since it’s the third cup I’ve made today and I didn’t get to drink the other two because a small person needed me RIGHT NOW, so why should I get to have the third anyway?) and let me explain.

First, I need to get out of the way the obvious that (sadly) needs to be stated to ward off the McPerfects, the Judgersons and the Stickybeaks: I love my children beyond measure and I would gladly take a bullet, be hit by a train or eaten by a pack of rabid zombie lions for them. I wouldn’t change my life for anything and I absolutely get how immensely blessed I am.

Okay, now that we have that on the table, I need to vent.

Is it only me or is it all mothers who feel like there is no time left in their lives for themselves? Really. NO TIME.

From the 6am “I can’t find Barbie’s shooooooe!” wake up to the 9:30pm “Pleeeeeease, for the love of muffins, go to bed!” negotiation, I find myself running around like a headless chicken doing a million things to keep the house running, working my no-longer-perky arse off in an effort to keep the kids stimulated, organising playdates, clean clean clean cleaning and why-the-hell-is-my-house-so-messy-with-all-this-damn-cleaning? I eat breakfast as I drive (if I’m lucky), I skip lunch, my laundry baskets are always full, as is my kitchen sink. As soon as all these things are done, that mean little list laughs and taunts me by beginning again.

This is all before I can even think about doing any actual non-kid-or-house-related work.

Work. You know, that thing I do from home. (That thing I do that my kids seem to think is a hobby.) It may as well be a cute little hobby. In the last ten days, I haven’t managed to do any of my own work. None. Nada. Zip. Unless you count the last five nights when I managed to get some writing done between midnight and 3am. Not kidding. As for my blog, well, it’s mine, so obviously it’s at the bottom of the never-ending, self-replenishing list.

Yes, I’m complaining. Yes, I’m whinging. Yes, I’m frustrated.

There are twenty-four hours in a day. How is it possible that in MY life, I can’t manage to mark one measly hour out of twenty four as MY OWN?

I often joke about not being able to go to the bathroom alone. Today, it’s not funny.

Today, I resent being a stay-at-home Mum. There, I said it. Bite me.

I resent the way people’s eyes glaze over with boredom when they ask what I do and I tell them I am a stay-at-home Mum and I work from home, because they assume I watch Oprah and read gossip magazines. Who are these mythical housewives with all this free time? How much are they paying their staff of help?

Today, I actually envy my husband and his uber-stressful job. He comes home frazzled and stressed, and still I am jealous – the ugly kind of jealous – because at least he gets to have an identity outside of “Dad.” He gets to go be a grown-up. He gets paid for his day’s work. The people he works with know him as Darren. NOT Dad. He is credited with a brain. He may be horribly stressed but even that is something I envy – because it’s about HIM. It’s a sad and ugly truth that I’m jealous of that, and it’s hard to admit, but I’m being real, and real isn’t always shiny and pretty.

I chose this gig and, on the whole, I DO love it, and appreciate that I have a choice. The fact that I know I am privileged to be able to be a stay-at-home Mum in the first place adds a new, fun emotion to add to the mix, in fact. Guilt. Guilt for these feelings. Guilt that today… today, quite frankly, being a stay-at-home Mum sucks.

I looked around today, I searched high and low. No sign of ME. None.

“Make time for yourself”, they say.

“Make sure you don’t lose your identity!” they caution.

To these lovely and totally useless words of wisdom, I implore, “HOW?

Seriously, after taxiing three children to and from various engagements, stocking a fridge and pantry, keeping clothes washed and sorted, supervising homework, packing lunches, unpacking uneaten (aaargghh!) lunch boxes, cooking meals and mediating wars about who called who a stinky-poo-head, there is not one minute of MY life that I can call my own.

I get that I am ‘Mum’ and that means sacrifice. I get that I’m not going to have the freedom I enjoyed pre-kids. The thing is, I also get that I am not supposed to be sacrificing my entire identity. Yet, somehow I have.

By putting my kids and husband and house and dog first, I have – by default – put myself last. I have put myself so far down the list that I’ve lost sight of my SELF. I’ve lost that person who had a huge range of interests and loves.

I love painting. I haven’t painted in two years.

I love running. I haven’t run in 6 weeks.

I love reading. I’m still reading the same book I started 8 weeks ago.

I love writing. I haven’t written a word in three weeks.

_ Something is wrong here._

What am I teaching my kids? We all know that kids learn from what we do, not what we say, that they mimic our behavior. So, if I don’t value myself enough to allocate a tiny piece of my own life to me, how can I expect them to develop any sort of healthy self-esteem themselves?

I didn’t picture this when I decided to be a full-time Mum. It’s not that I’m overwhelmed with the laundrycookingcleaning (blah blah blah) or the endlessvomitandsnotparade (and war and apparent deafness when I allocate chores, but I digress). I also know for sure that it would be doubly hard if I worked outside of the home.

My frustration and sadness today is about the sheer indignity of being reduced to maid, nanny and housekeeper in the eyes of the world, and – yes – in my own esteem. The award-winning copywriter, the dynamic creative with a promising advertising career, the personal trainer, the interesting girl with more to talk about than her kids – where is she?

I want to be home with my kids and be there in all their growing-up moments. I do.

I want to be Michelle, too.

I need to be Michelle, too. Lately, Michelle has been locked away and I can’t find the key.

I wish I had a funny ending, a feel-good-tie-it-all-up-in-a-warm-and-fuzzy-way ending to this post. I don’t. Today, I feel frustrated, trapped and lost.

Ironically, it’s because They call me Mummy.

Michelle is a copywriter, artist and mum of three children under ten. Please visit her blog, They Call Me Mummy.

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