Friday, 17 October 2014

Lesson 32: No place I'd rather be?

At home, with my wonderful boys. Taking care of them. Looking after our home. Creating memories. Where I belong.

But sometimes, I'd rather be anywhere else.

When the baby has been screaming for over an hour and the toddler is throwing objects at my head and/or refusing to put his shoes on, and I am feeling REALLY RATHER FUCKING SHOUTY...well, on those days I'd quite like to step out of the front door and keep on walking. 

I want out. 

They say you discover things 'about yourself' when you become a parent. Well, I have mostly discovered that I have no patience. Zero. None whatsoever. My fuse is SHORT. 

I can't stand the constant demands. And mess. And noise. I recently embarked on a rare child-free supermarket trip and found myself sat in Lidl's car park with the engine turned off, smiling from ear to ear because for the first time in days nobody was shouting or whinging at me. Jesus Christ it was peaceful. I sat there in silence for ten minutes, staring at my windscreen and wondering when Lidl's car park on Saturday at 11am became the fucking highlight of my week.

I am bored at home. I read an article recently criticising mums like me. How dreadful to say your children bore you. Except that's not what I'm saying at all. It's not my children I find boring. It's the situation. My boys are hilarious and cute and smart and lovely (sometimes). But it is bloody hard work. And parts of it have pushed me to breaking point. Not the endless washing and nappies and feeds and battles over nap times (though all of these things are challenging). The hardest part is the mental torment that accompanies twelve hours of whinging, and discussions limited to 'the kids,' and seventy seven trips to the park in as many days. I don't really like other people's children to be honest. They always have runny noses.

I have discovered that I am ironically least 'at home' whilst I'm at home, and happier in the work environment. I like going to work. Nine months 'off' (yeah right) is not a pleasing prospect. Perhaps that is why I chose to take six months maternity leave again and have subsequently further reduced this to five months. The drop to Statutory Maternity Pay is not enough for us to scrape by on for nine months, but for me the real motive for returning is non-financial. Five months is the maximum I can manage without cracking. And even that is quite possibly too long.

At Baby Two's eight week check, the doctor asked the following:
'How are you feeling? Are you enjoying it?

I replied, as I always do, with my honest thoughts:
'A newborn and a toddler? It's not the most fun I've ever had. In fact, I'd rate it pretty low on the enjoyment scale.'

Cue a nervous look at the chart to see if this answer is listed under PND warning signs. 

I'm not depressed. This is not PND. This is just fish out of water syndrome. I'm the fish, work is my water, and maternity leave is an uncomfortable drought. 

But whilst we are increasingly encouraged to talk to one another about our mental health, it doesn't ever seem acceptable to share your true feelings about life at home with children. Unless, of course, your feelings match the general consensus that the first year is magical and maternity leave must be treasured. I am regrettably too honest, and this is often met with looks of surprise and, I hate to say it, disgust. 

Beautiful boys, but it's not all rainbows and smiles
There are moments I treasure. Truly there are. But if you ask me how I find being at home with my wonderful babies I will tell you the truth. 


At work, where I exist outside of breastfeeding duties and nappies and snack time and smiley fucking baby groups :-) :-) :-) :-)

At work, where I look forward to seeing my boys because I have not spent every waking minute with them. Where weekends and non-work days are cherished more because they do not represent yet another patience-testing Groundhog Day. 

At work, where my cleavage remains sick-free and I can have a hot cup of tea.

Sure there are mums who will take a year off. There are mums who will never go back to work. There are mums who will take no more than one month off before returning full time. I respect them all. 

'A happy mum is a happy home' I once read. A bit fucking selfish I thought...but it does make some sense to me now. Turns out a working mum is a happy home for us. 

Lesson 32: 'where you belong' cannot be dictated by other people. The needs of your children should come first, of course they should, but not to the exclusion of your happiness. If you want to stay at home, and can, you should. If you don't want to stay at home, and don't have to, you shouldn't.

'You won't get this time again' is a dead cert. Make it a happy time.

The Unmumsy Mum


  1. I love this post and I can really identify with it.
    Two weeks ago I met up with my cousin and her newborn, and she said "isn't it amazing? I just love it, did you love it too?". And I said no. The poor thing, her face just fell. I really didn't mean to burst her bubble but I was so tired of pretending - the first few months of my son's life were really tough, with the reflux and the screaming and the very much not sleeping. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.
    Now that he's almost two we are both happiest when he spends 4 days out of 7 at nursery. B I need time to do adult things and he loves being with his friends, and then at the end of the week when we're all a bit tired we enjoy being little homebodies together. There is no way I would "enjoy" being with him 24/7 (nor he with me, I suspect!). And I think it ought to be perfectly okay to say that.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting - refreshing to hear honesty from somebody else!! I feel exactly the same, I enjoy my home days SO much more when that is not the totality of my existence. And I am sure the kids benefit from the break too! Thanks for reading :-)

  2. Just found your blog! I feel absolutely one hundred million percent SAME (and I only have one disagreeable small child!). Honest mums like you are hard to find! :)

    1. Ahhh so comforting to hear from like-minded mums!! And I felt this way when I had 'just the one' too (by god it used to annoy me when people said that, one is hard enough!) Thanks for reading :-)

  3. I love this. I returned to work after 9 months and am doing 4 days a week. But i sadly now want to to 5 days! I just cant get over the guilt of giving up another day with my boy :-( i friggin love work tho!

    1. Thanks Jessica! I frigging love work too! And I don't think you should feel guilty, but I understand as I am in the same boat. Thanks for reading :-)

  4. It wasn't until I returned to work I realised how much Mat leave did NOT suit me.... I was a much worse version of myself, lazy, really lazy... Now I'm back at work I feel like me again, I've started baking again, making home made food.... Not sure who I turned into on mat leave but I much prefer this version :)

  5. I am the same. I love my 2.5 yr old daughter but when she wants to play the game where she hands me the plastic container from a kinder egg to pop open, then close and then pop open again (for, like, an hour) I'm not having the best time! I am in full time employment while my OH is parental unit number one! We sometimes argue about who's got it worse but secretly I don't think I'd swap!

  6. Whilst on maternity leave with baby 1 I knew it was time to go back when I rang my boss at work, crying, because i'd washed a tissue and had to shake out every item before washing it again! Enough was enough, i returned the next week!!!

  7. So glad I found this... As as mum of two boys I had planned to take extended maternity leave to be at home with them. After a year with two children under the age of two...I couldn't wait to go back to work! I am now making the transition from part time to fuill time...and despite really looking forward to this...the guilt police are there in the back of my mind. Your blog has made me realise that no, actually why shouldn't I do something for me! They are not babies and I have given them the best start in it's my turn!☺

  8. "I don't really like other people's children to be honest. They always have runny noses." I couldn't agree more! LOL! Glad I am not the only one!