Stay-at-home or working mum? Whatever your circumstances, Maria Rushe looks at why nobody has the right to judge.
“Your Mammy doesn’t work.” or “Your Mammy doesn’t have a real job”.
I remember hearing this a few times as a child and as a teenager.
I remember not thinking much of it. I didn’t see it as an insult or a scathing comment until I was 17 and my Mum had just had Baby Number 6, and I overheard a visitor “jokingly” dismissing my Mum with “Oh at least you don’t have a job to go back to. You should try having a career on top of it….hardeeharrhar!”
And I remember that moment because it was probably the first time I lost the plot with an ACTUAL adult.
Let’s just say, there were metaphoric stitches required for the new posterior that might have been ripped.
She didn’t visit again.
It was a line delivered with one of those fake “hardeehar” Mary-of-the-Poppins laughs, which people of the bitch variety add to their insults to mask them as “Only jokes” or not meaning any harm.
At 17, I was old enough to recognise that the visitor was in fact being a grade A Sanctimammy.
And I was old enough to defend my Mum. Because my Mum might not have put on her face and heels every morning and gone to an office or a school or a hospital or a shop or wherever to do a JOB, but BY CHRIST did she work.
She worked harder than any other person I know. She still does. She was there, and is there, for us every step of the way, and I’ll never know how she did it.
Being the eldest in a house full of Babies, I learned VERY young that being a Mum is a full time job.
There is no rest. There is no relaxation. There are no coffee breaks. There is no “Clocking in” or “Clocking out”. No one cares if you’ve had your lunch hour. Hell, most days, you don’t get lunch! (unless you count their leftovers as lunch, which somedays, we all do. )
You don’t have a team to thrash ideas over. You don’t have a Boss to ask for advice. You don’t have a Supervisor to show you the way.
When we were kids in the Donegal sticks in the 80’s, our Mums had a VERY different life.
Many of them were at home, all day, without communication, without conversation, without cars, until the Daddy came home (for an hour before hitting the farm.).
There were no Forums to ask questions about teething, or wind, or puke. There were no online nurses to contact if a rash appeared. There were 3 TV stations FFS! So there were no digital babysitters. (and no Peppa in fairness.) There were few telephones and even if there was a phone in the house, you didn’t call up your mate for a 20 minute chat unless you were able to pay for it. There were no Mother and Baby groups, no baby massage, no Mammy meet ups…
Being a Mammy TODAY is lonely. I can’t get my head around what it must have been like for our Mums. And remember too, that then, you DARE not admit that you were struggling with your emotions or your “nerves” as they used to say in hushed, loaded tones.
Being a Mammy is 24/7. It’s the hardest job in the world whether you’re a SAHM (Stay at home Mum) or a CM (Career Mum).
If you don’t leave the house to work, you don’t get to say things like “Sorry, I’m finished for the day” or “That’s not my problem. Talk to JohnJoe” or “I’ll leave that until tomorrow.”
You work all day, every day (and all fecking night sometimes) and there is no pay-cheque at the end of it. There is no sick pay. There is no annual leave. There is no pension accumulating.
Running a home and organising a family is hard. It is full on. It is stressful. It is exhausting.
You might not a get a payslip or wages at the end of the month, but boy, do you work.
Now, Before anyone starts their “Try doing all that AND working an ACTUAL job”, let me stop you right there.
I AM a working Mum. I have a very busy, demanding and stressful career. I have TWO jobs actually…
When I am working, I have 13 times more crap in my head to think about than I do when school is closed.
I know too well how fecking EXHAUSTING it is to trying to juggle being professional and organised in your JOB, keeping your family on top of all the EVERYTHING and trying not to lose your shit completely.
It’s a whirlwind and it’s madness, but do you know what? Just because I have a career AND kids, doesn’t make me better or superior to a Mum who stays at home to work. I envy Mums who can stay at home.
I’m blessed that I was able to work part-time last year and that I get so much time off to spend with the girls. I know that.
But the time came for me to go back full time and I did. I love being at home with my girls, but do you know what? I love my jobs too. So that’s what is right for ME.
When I was off, I looked forward to dressing in my school clothes and having an uninterrupted conversation and a hot coffee in the staffroom when I returned. When I’m at work, I break my heart that I’m not snuggled up in my PJs on the sofa, watching Peppa Pork.
But let’s get this straight.
The mums who stay at home ARE working. They work full time. They just aren’t on a payroll. They don’t get paid for the work they do. In money anyway. (Working Mums get the Children’s Allowance too so don’t even TRY that BS).
I envy the Mums who stay at home through choice, but remember that so many are SAHMs because the RIDICULOUS cost of Childcare doesn’t give them any feckin choice.
Many would love to be back in the workplace.
Many of them look forward to it. But, the shoe fits both feet. To the Mammies who tut at Career Mums for leaving their children to go to work, remember that you’re not a better Mammy than a Career Mammy because you stay at home with your kids.
We all do what we have to do.
I go back to my usual mantra… Don’t be a Sanctimammy.
Just because you do things differently, doesn’t make you better.
Just because you work AND have kids, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who is working her ass off at home.
Just because you’re able to stay at home with your Puking minion, doesn’t make you a better Mum than the Mum who had no choice but to leave hers with Granny.
Every Mum does what SHE has to do for HER family. ANd the only person who knows what is right for your family is YOU.
You don’t know another Mum’s circumstance.
You don’t know her. You don’t know if she’s happy, or watching you getting into your car to go to work, longing to be you. You don’t know if she’s driving to work in tears because her Baby cried as she was dropping her off. You don’t know how many times a day the Mammy in the office feels a gutwrenching guilt at being away. You don’t know how the Mum in her kitchen is longing for a conversation.
And if you EVER hear yourself dismissing another Mammy because she’s doing it differently to you, lift your hand, grab that redundant wooden spoon and hit yourself a good hard slap on the arse with it.
Then get over yourself.
Have a super week my Lovelies.
And keep up the good work.