Poster girl for staying home

"Aren't you lucky you can work from home?" M-hm, lucky and a little insane.

IT couldn’t be right, the laminated poster on maintaining your relationship during parenting had to be wrong.

It read “a situation where one parent works outside the home eight hours a day and the other stays in the home 24 hours a day will lead you to separation or divorce”.

Come again? Were my husband and I headed for Splits-ville because of my decision to be a stay-at-home mum?

Could it be that all those mums of bygone eras kept their families together despite staying home?

I am one of the lucky few who can work from home and so I’d been caring for my son whilst simultaneously putting together newspapers. It’s like any job – some days you have it easy and some days you need an extra set of limbs.

But come November (when my time is up), I will endeavour to work from home with TWO children. The logistics baffle me and I lie awake some nights wondering just how I’m meant to accomplish this. As it is, without the computer calling, my days are full.

And, if I go by this poster I’ve been reading and re-reading in the midwives’ room, working and being a stay-home mum could be our downfall.

My scoffing changed to quiet gagging as I recalled the madness of work-nights past when I was trying to serve up dinner, bathe and put a baby to bed, AND proof the front page. It ended in tears a couple of times, even with my husband helping.

I thought about my days now – when did I actually have free time within which I could work? Well, there’s the hour (sometimes two) when the kids have a nap, but they don’t always go down together. And then there’s about 30 minutes (if it’s not my turn to wash up) when I sit on the couch and watch the news… oh wait, my daughter usually has a nap then.

And if she’s not in my arms, then the nap doesn’t happen (then she cries till bath-time, falls asleep during her last bottle and wakes up in the middle of the night – the evil “flow-on” effect that dictates every parent’s waking – or otherwise – moment).

So that left me with the “maybe” hour or two during the day and the child-less hours of the night that I usually liked to spend in bed.

Suddenly working out of the home took on an evangelical glow. Certainly putting on an outfit and not having pumpkin spat on it would be a plus. But that would mean day care, which would mean the money I made working would be spent on… you guessed it… day care.

Aside from that, neither I nor the kids (it seems) are comfortable with not-mum-care. I left my son in a gated playgroup to fetch his hat from the car and he ran alongside sobbing hysterically – as if I’d ever left him behind anywhere before?!

And I once left my daughter in the arms of a seasoned professional at the water park just to go to the toilet (with son in tow). Her gutteral screams could be heard over flushing toilets and the masses of excited children squealing outside.  My son felt her pain and, with his most serious face said “Layla sad”. Translation: Get your pants on and go get your daughter.

I know they would get used to the concept of mummy not always being there – but I’m not sure I could. I always wanted to be home with my children right up until they started school and whenever I falter at my workload, I remember to look at the bigger picture.

In a blink they grow up and, though I love my work, I would hate to miss a single moment of their fleeting childhood. I’m so grateful I have the choice and I just hope that poster is … well, frankly, I hope it’s pulled down. Parents have enough to worry about without throwing that into the mix.

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