I feel like I needed to share this. Not just to moan in support of feminism and against stereotypes (though there is some of that) but because it irks me that the message isn’t yet clear. For some unknown reason we still feel it’s our right to tell other mums how to parent. How to feel. We are still putting mother’s in boxes of ‘she should’ or ‘you’d think she would….’
So to put this into some context for you, my daughter started school the first week in September. It’s her first year. Before covid she was at preschool 4 days a week, but since covid struck in March she’s been home with me. No childcare, because preschool didn’t reopen until September either, by which time she was ready to start school. The most common questions I’ve been asked since people learned she was set to start school are
1. When are you having another baby? And 2. I bet you’ll hate it when she’s at school won’t you?
Note question 2 is in fact a statement, posing as a question. An assumption based on zero background information. It’s only merit is that because my daughter is starting school the presumption is I’ll have too much time on my hands. I’ll be bored. I’m her mother so I’m bound to miss her implicitly when she isn’t around for any length of time, but more so when that time is spent at school. Right?
Well sorry to act offended at your presumption but it does in fact feel offensive that you assume my life is less fulfilling when I am not around my child. There’s an undertone that when I state how, in fact I’m excited for her to be starting her new journey, and I’m excited for me too, getting to have some time to myself again – it’s as though I’ve implied in some way that I don’t love her, or I don’t enjoy being a mum.
What’s more disappointing is that these statements are usually made by other women more often other mums.
There’s no right or wrong way to be a mum. You might love being with them so much that you automatically feel a sense of loss when they go to school. Nostalgia for their infancy. Both scenarios are perfectly acceptable, and so is looking forward to them going to school, looking forward to snippets of alone time or getting back to work and routine. A lot of women have to work nowadays in order to support the household, and this means we have to leave our children, but just because we have to, doesn’t mean we can’t want to occasionally too.
I love the quality time my daughter and I spend together, but I also love time to myself.
My circumstances might be unique because I’m chronically ill, and this often means I need to lean on people for support with childcare, sending her to school just means less relying on others in the family and more time to recover for me. I’ve waited a long 7 months for some rest and I will wait less than 6 weeks at the start of term, for a week off with her when half term comes around.
The climax or crux of this article is this. We all parent differently, we all feel differently about our children as they grow. Some long for the baby stage whilst I love the here and now stage. The stage where’s she chatting, drawing me pictures and telling me she loves me. Just because you don’t miss your kids every minute of the 360 they spend at school each day, doesn’t mean you love them any less than the next mum. I feel like we need to get better at normalising feelings of discontentment in motherhood. Feelings of normalcy. Feelings of desperation and in this case the lack of feelings in regards to empty nest syndrome or ‘school mum life’
As mothers we are weighed down with responsibility, organisation, emotional reactions, not least the physical endurance that is required to keep up with our mini me’s. We don’t need to feel the weight of someone else’s judgement too, whoever that someone is, but particularly less from another mother. We’re part of the same club now, hun. The Mum Club. And I think we should try and make it wholly inclusive. What do you think?