Life of a mum: When your sanity slips through your fingers
Did you know that even working mums of today spend more time on their kids than stay-at-home mums did in the 1950's? Read on to find out what it's like.
I look at pictures of mums from the past and marvel at how blissful the life of a mumappears to be. I see women in pretty dresses, sitting around with their fellow mum friends, sipping tea, having freshly-baked scones and looking oh so radiant and pretty. Their hair is set in bouncy curls, their accessories match and they don’t seem to have those infamous panda eyes.
And the kids? Where are their kids? Somewhere in the background, running around, entertaining themselves. They look fine. Maybe it’s time to adopt some of the parenting strategies of yesteryears!
The life of a mumin this day and age is nothing short of mayhem. From dusk till dawn, it’s complete pandemonium. It’s a race against time with so much to do in so little time. It’s almost impossible to keep my head above water. And I know I’m not alone!
Mums of today are constantly in a state of anxiety and are increasingly gravitating towards a nervous breakdown. Why? Because mums of today are functioning more as family management executives than actual mums!
To put it quite candidly, much of it is self-imposed, I can’t deny that. Take for example signing the kids up for karate, swimming, tennis, piano, phonics, football and tuition when time permits. So that’s a whole lot of chauffeuring, day in, day out. Imagine doing this for two or three kids? Notice how I capped it at three because I don’t even know how it’s humanly possible to handle any more!
Mostly, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation. Mums swing from one end of the pendulum to the other. We vow never to impose stress on ourselves and our children but end up with a whole lot of mum guilt the minute we hear of what other mums are doing for their kids.
I’m ok with my kid running and tumbling around our front yard but am I shortchanging them by not providing them with the same exposure as their peers? Will they lose out if I don’t groom them to have certain skills? – These are just some of the thoughts that go through our mind all day, everyday.
And so it begins, the slippery slope of how much we want to do for our kids, versus how much we actually can do for them. How much we are physically and mentally able to invest in them for trust me when I say, it takes a huge toll on us!
Somehow the life of a mumis profoundly different from that of a dad. Dads do contribute, largely financially, or maybe driving the kids from one point to another. But writing the cheque versus actually keeping track of when the cheque is due is not the same!
Mums seem to bear the brunt of keeping track of everything. To put things into perspective, the life of a mumis largely being a family management executive, a domestic director.
Here’s a glimpse of all the managing that we do on a daily basis. So let’s say we have three school-going children. That means being in three kids’ worth of Parent (and possibly teacher and parent) What’s App groups, remembering three kid’s entire social network worth of birthdays (and that means keeping track of party invites, preparing gifts and contributing to put luck), being part (or at least attempting to) of three Parent Volunteer Groups.
And that means a whole lot of enthusiastically appearing in our kid’s school, bright-eyed and ready to ra ra along to whatever event that’s going on.
You rarely see or hear or dads doing any of this. Even if they do, there’s a high chance of them sending an Elsa doll to your five year old son’s boys only party, so you get the picture.
Then there’s of course the barrage of emails that flood our inbox. There’s everything from school reminders, to health checks, to parenting talks or the latest robotic programme that our kid’s school has decided in an attempt to equip the kids with STEM skills. How, just how do we keep track of every single one of these?
Notice how I’ve not even included that full-time corporate job we are trying our best not to get sacked from, and picking up the husband’s socks from every corner of the house, in the equation.
So if you’re wondering why mums are so dependent on that glass of wine and would rather spend that small pocket of time we have to ourselves every night, sitting around in solace, scowling at the television with our eyes staring at but not quite watching what’s on Netflix, this is why.
Because the life of a mumis tough, ridiculously and impossibly. We don’t get sick days, we never get a day completely off and even if we do, we can’t just completely snap out of mum mode because there’s just so much to worry about.
And that’s also why we often come across as exasperated, short-tempered even. Trust me when I say we do want to take that long bubble bath once a week and pamper our hair and skin with the dozens of products that we can never find the time to use.
Trust me when I saw we want to get our nails done, we want to sleep in till noon, we want to read that book and yes, we want to have undisturbed, quality time and wild sex with our husbands, yes we do!
But more than all of that, what we really want as mums is to stop managing, to stop planning and to start indulging. We want to indulge in hugging our children, kissing their eyelashes, painting with them, making a mess and lying on the floor laughing our hearts out with each other.
We want to indulge in motherhood for what it truly is and we want to indulge in our children’s innocent and carefree moments. We want to have that freedom of missing that one talk, or that one party, or that one class just so we can play in the rain a little longer, have ice-cream and spend the night nursing a cold under the blanket, because there’s fun even in that.