It’s almost that time of year again. This year I am doing the Dad thing. You know, how on mothers day mothers spend all day with their kids and on fathers day the fathers are suppose to get a day off and go golfing (or whatever). I am doing that thing. No I am not going anywhere, but they are going out to see a movie and I am going to either sleep in or have a bath and some peace and quiet. Some people think that’s mean and un-motherly…but the reality is, even when I am at my worst, I spend all day everyday with my girls. I love it. I love seeing them first thing in the morning, I love seeing them at breakfast, at the table doing school work, reading, at lunch, when they fight with their sisters, when they are tired, when they are happy, when they are sick, when they kick a goal at soccer.
But sometimes, just sometimes, the old me rears her head. The one that used to work 80+ hours a week, who was never at home, who jetted off to conferences and exhibition openings. The person who left home at 15 and lived alone until I met the husband. And as I seem to be having a massive attack of agoraphobia lately when the mr. suggested taking the kids to the movies on Saturday or Sunday I asked for Sunday. Then added “Does that make me a horrible mother?” to which he of course laughed. He doesn’t think so.
Which got me thinking about how mothers and fathers are still perceived to this day.
My dad was considered “extremely” involved in parenting. By that I meant he took us for rides on his motorbike, took us fishing and occasionally took us to lego land on the weekend. He worked and when he wasn’t stoned in his room hiding from us all, he would not object to my brother and I being in the house. Yeah, awesome – give him father of the year. My grandmama (mums mum) thought so highly of him, she asked him if he would donate his sperm so her other daughter could have another kid. Yeah…my family is weird. He said no and thankfully my aunty did not reproduce past the one son her and her gangsta husband fought over for years until in the end neither of them wanted him.
When we first found out we were pregnant the mr. wasn’t even sure if he was going to come in when I had her. WTF? I remember getting right in his face and pointing out that I wasn’t going to have a choice as to whether or not I would be in attendance, and so he no longer had that choice. I often wonder if it was at that point that he realised that for most of our relationship, I would be wearing the pants. He ended up being amazing throughout the pregnancy (which he also managed to work, help out with my brother who was 6 and mums newborn and my mum who was hysterical after her boyfriend almost died) and labour and when we bought her home. He was over the moon when I stopped breastfeeding as it finally meant he could take her out any time he wanted, even if I wanted to stay at home. By the time the twins were almost one my little business venture had taken off and he had the chance to quit his job. He was over the freaking moon.He was a stay at home dad to four kids – a 5yo diva, a 3yo with aspergers and pretty severe OCD and twin 1yos. He loved the school runs and play dates and playgroups and volunteered for school excursions. (see he isn’t all bad).
But we discovered that we were not the picture of normality according to the world. While most women at school/playgroup/daycare thought he was amazing for doing something they considered normal for them, his mother had other ideas. She thought there was something wrong with him. He was apparently neglecting his husband/father duties by not working to support us, where as I was apparently not enough of a mother by her standards. My place was in the home with my kids and making sure dinner was on the table for my husband. Seriously. We were a bit miffed as we both believed in one parent being at home the whole way through to school – which we were doing. Why did it matter who was working/making money and who stayed at home? After all it wasn’t 1950….I should know, I had to buy my girdles on the internet and not at big w.The mums at school called me the “invisible parent” and congratulated me whenever I showed up for a concert or mothers day activities. The kinder suggest the mr. should attend the mothers day lunch instead of me (he should also get fathers day as he was just so awesome). My mother in law told her church friends (right in front of me after I had finally been worn down and agreed to attend the church mothers day event) that it really should be the mr. sitting there.
It was beyond hurtful. I still carried my beautiful girls to term, I gave birth to them all, I sat up with them at night, my nipples almost fell off (not his), I still held them, I still gave them everything I had. They are my babies. I am their mother.
Women are up against it more than ever now. It seems since we fought for the right to do everything, somehow we are suppose to do it all. I was suppose to earn a living, but I was also expected to be at home and put dinner on the table for my husband and kids (not sure why – he is a much better cook than I am). God forbid we don’t manage it all, then we are torn down by our own sex. It’s kind of sad.
Of course life is pretty different now. Everyone was shocked when they found out I was shutting down my studio to work from home so he could go back to work (the twins started school and by then he was chomping at the bit to be out of the house). I started doing the school runs and having dinner on the table. I still worked a bit through the day when everyone was at school. Until I discovered how unhappy the girls were at school. Then almost overnight I went from working mum to stay at home homeschooling mum. It was as big a shock to me as it was to everyone else.
Then I had a nervous breakdown and everyone assumed the homeschooling thing was just another of my “cry for help” things I had done. But here we are two years later.
Which brings me back to this mothers day. My sleep in. A quiet house (bonus points if they clean the house for me on saturday). A long bath (without someone popping their head in to tell me the new names they have just made up for different types of farts). Maybe a b&w movie on the tv in the lounge room. Then after that the afternoon with the girls who made me a mother. You see I don’t love my kids any less than the woman who stays at home. I don’t love them any more than the woman who works.
Also….*hint, hint* double points if they get me a bottle of Chanel Gardenia! But I will be just as happy with another ceramic bobble headed sheep.
ps – comment on the 100th post for your chance to win my favourite beauty products.