A Not So Stay At Home Mother

A Not So Stay At Home Mother

Today was a big day; typically it would have been a working day, a Monday back in the office after a weekend. But after a life-changing decision, last week marked the end of my career in an office job, as I know it. It meant handing over my computer, my iphone (and my paid for phone contract), my medical insurance, free yoga classes and delicious smoothies. And it meant handing over something much bigger: my ego and (a large chunk of) my identity.

 You see, I have enjoyed nine years of telling people that I work for a prestigious company alongside multi-million pound brands, coming up with strategies for huge YouTube influencers. And now? Now when asked what I do I’ve found myself tongue-tied, struggling to find the words, saying I used to work for Google, before mumbling something about being a blogger and a mum.

But why? Why do I find it so embarrassing to say I’m a full time mum? Why do I feel uneasy or even, guilty, about taking on this identity? And it’s clear I’m not the only one; I’ve been inundated with messages from so many of you detailing how worried you are that people think you’re “lame” for not returning to work, that you make up excuses such as the cost of childcare or the commute, and that ultimately you feel guilty for saying that you love spending time with your kids above anything else. As one of my readers put it, there is a “weird sort of reverse – shaming going on where we’re told that sacrificing work to be with kids is ‘unfair’ on ourselves.”

It’s clear that ‘full time’ motherhood is shrouded in deep complexities for women. We feel that we ‘lose’ ourselves if we are a full time mum, that it’s nothing but wiping bottoms and cleaning bottles; or that we’re being lazy by not going out to earn money or worse still, not fulfilling our potential. These days (though this does depend on where you live – I’m speaking mainly for UK city dwellers), there’s simply the expectation that you’ll return to work. It’s been drummed into women for so many years to push against traditional gender roles, that now there’s a guilt surrounding enjoying and choosing to be a stay at home mum as if people suddenly think I’ll be putting Sams slippers out for him ready for when he walks through the door or spending the day trying on different types of face powder.

The journalist explains how of course, clothing, feeding, entertaining, bathing children all day is exhausting but it’s not really a job in that there’s no employer or wage. She goes on to talk about the need to reframe full time motherhood; describing it not as a job or as a sacrifice (because in doing so it only keeps a woman in her place) but as a “beautiful, messy privilege”.

[ as a side note, when I first became a mum, nearly four years ago, I remember walking Jack in those early few weeks and looking at every single mother around me, especially the younger ones, thinking that they were absolute legends. I looked at them in total awe, knowing what I knew then about giving birth, and looking after a child, even in those precious first few weeks]

What we really need to do is to own our roles as mothers; own our priorities, own the *financial* sacrifices and the choices we’ve made. Today we spent the day – as we normally do on weekends – hanging out at home, in pjs until way too late in the day, doing yoga, cooking together, and then popping out to visit my grandma in the afternoon. It was slow, it was simple, it was hard, it brought my grandma joy, it brought me joy and I hope it brought my kids joy. At the end of the day, I feel tired, I feel energised, I feel content, I feel like I’ve done a good job. I’m transitioning into my new identity and role, I’m committing to being grateful and accomplished, in the inside and the outside.
They say don’t let motherhood define you. I say let what you want define you. Now, who was asking what it is that I do? Because “just” a stay at home mum, I am not.

Are you a full time mum? How does it make you feel?

Emma xx

P.S What Blogging means to Me and One Thing About Motherhood That Baffles Me

 

8 Comments

  1. March 6, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    I’m embarrassed to say I always looked down on being a SAHM because of those reasons, it seemed like these women lost themselves in their children and gave up on themselves and oh was I so wrong and humbled! As soon as I became pregnant I knew I could never leave my baby, I want to be there for everything and be the one to see her discover the world. Motherhood for me has been the catalyst to my own self discovery as my daughter is the mirror to my inner world. I want to teach her to believe in herself above all else, but first I have to believe in myself so I can lead by example. I still struggle with saying I’m a SAHM and I think it’s because it’s so much more than that, we’re raising the new earth and most people don’t understand what we really do and how important it is.

    • emmaross
      March 7, 2018 / 7:57 am

      hey Leah – it’s so interesting how we never know how we’re going to feel until we become mothers ourselves, isn’t it. thank you for sharing your feelings and i am SO with you re raising the status of SAHM and how important a job it is. Let’s do this <3 happy wednesday and thanks for reading and for being here x x x

  2. Avril
    March 6, 2018 / 3:39 am

    I am a stay at home mum from Australia. Its similar here. You can be a stay at home mum but then you are either a “dole bludger” (govmt gives you tiny amount of money to survive on) or generally one of the tennis club/4wd set.
    Im neither.
    Im – technically- disabled (psych stuff) and struggled with that as who I was for a very long time until my youngest was born.
    I’ve come to realise i love being a mum. Im ok at it.
    I also love acting and studying and do little bits of both but, yeah, struggle with saying “im a mu.” First….sucks and i think sats something about the value we put on parenting.
    (Also thankyou for making me feel so much more normal and okay and realise that not having everything done by 10am is NORMAL 💜 u for that and more)

    • Avril
      March 6, 2018 / 3:42 am

      Edited thanks to clambering toddler- Sigh- I am a stay at home mum from Australia. Its similar here. You can be a stay at home mum but then you are either a “dole bludger” in the eyes of the mai stream media and about 50% of the general public(govmt gives you tiny amount of money to survive on) or generally one of the tennis club/4wd set.
      Im neither.
      Im – technically- disabled (psych stuff) and struggled with that as who I was for a very long time until my youngest was born.
      I’ve come to realise i love being a mum. Im ok at it.
      I also love acting and studying and do little bits of both but, yeah, struggle with saying “im a mum.” First….sucks and i think says something about the value we put on parenting.
      (Also thankyou for making me feel so much more normal and okay and realise that not having everything done by 10am is NORMAL 💜 u for that and more)

    • emmaross
      March 6, 2018 / 11:49 am

      hey avril – thanks for sharing this, always so interesting to hear how other women are manoevuring being a full time mum in different countries. i’m pretty sure you’re a wonderful mum, and im a strong believer of doing what you love… you might find your way back to acting / studying further down the line… have you read this book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mama-Motherhood-Revolution-Antonella-Gambotto-Burke/dp/178066205X – think you might enjoy it. Thank you so much for the kind words and p.s yes staying in pjs til way too late and not getting too much done except mumming and caring for babes is A OK!

  3. Rah Dickson
    March 5, 2018 / 10:36 pm

    Thank you for putting into words how I feel. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to stay at home with my son. I often find myself saying in an embarrassed way to new people that I’m a SAHM when they ask me what I do for work. I am determined to own it and try and change that stigma around SAHMs. It’s bloody hard work!

    • emmaross
      March 6, 2018 / 11:49 am

      YES! it is a lot about stigma isn’t it… but it starts with us mamas owning our roles, as you say :)) thanks so much for reading Rah, and have a lovely day x

  4. Jenn
    March 5, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    I am a stay at home mom. I am in a love/hate relationship with being one. I love that I get to be the one to teach my children what I think is important (hello kindness and empathy), I love that I get to be with them all day everyday. Sometimes though I feel like I’m losing my mind with the 12 consecutive hours of whining or screaming and I find myself thinking “what have I gotten myself into?!” But mostly I’m so grateful to be a SAHM and I love it so much even though it’s the biggest struggle of my life. Also, so grateful that I get to drink coffee leisurely all day and wine as early as I want.

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