I caught up with a very cool friend today. She’s someone whose company I really enjoy yet we hardly ever see each other. Ah, life. At least now since we moved house we’re only minutes away from each other so perhaps making the effort will be easier. What I really appreciate about her is her simple, down to earth attitude to life. She’s natural, honest, and unpretentious. No B.S. I love people like that.
Today we bonded over the fact that all our children were attending OSH (outside school hours care) despite neither of us being at work today. Feeling judgey? A little? Sure, fine. But seriously, picking the kids up at 3 really eats into the day! It basically means that by 2:30 when you’re just making headway into your “To Do” list it’s all over. Time to pack up and head off back to parenting responsibilities.
Okay, let’s be real. Even if there’s no list and absolutely nothing to do (does that ever happen?), sometimes you just want some freaking time alone to read a good book, lie down like a sloth and watch something- anything!- other than ABC kids. On those days, which for me is most days, OSH really is the gift that keeps on giving, occupying the children and affording invariably stretched parents the thing they miss most- time. Judge me if you will. I’m too old and tired these days to care. You gotta do what you gotta do.
Anyway , I digress. As much as we both love having down time, we do both work. I’m not sure if my friend financially needs to work, although I suspect it is rather helpful. Our family certainly needs a second income. I think the truth is that we probably both love the idea that we could work without actually needing to work. Who doesn’t? I’ve mentioned before in this blog that I just want to look forward to my work days and do something I’m really good at! That pays me lots of money! Wouldn’t go astray….but we both acknowledge we’re very bad at being stay at home mums, having both dallied in it when the kids were little.
When I had Miss M almost 9 years ago there was not a single day I didn’t leave the house with her. I would literally spend hours wandering with her in the pram around cafes, shopping centres, parks, libraries… anywhere but home. The walls would start closing in on me. My friend nodded in understanding. She got it. We agreed that we’d both excel at it if we didn’t have to make dinner every day, do the washing…cleaning…tidying…and let’s not forget my personal fave, the dreaded, painful, irritating, eternal groceries. Ugh. I hate doing the groceries! And I really dislike cooking. I have no talent for it and I was vego for 10 years until I feel pregnant with Miss M. She needed steak. Lots of it. Total carnivore. All the lentils and spinach in the world just wasn’t going to cut it. My husband also loves meat. Being a vegetarian and a reluctant cook in a family of carnivores is just in the “No Way In Hell” basket.
I also baked for the first time 6 years ago, when my second born was only tiny and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had been staying with us from Algeria for a few months as we welcomed Miss A into the family. What a wonderful treat that was to have them with us. 9 days after her birth hubby and I got dolled up and headed out alone to celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary at our wedding reception restaurant venue. That is how well rested, relaxed and supported we were during that period. And so well fed! We’ve never eaten so well in this country. My sister-in-law in particular is an excellent baker and showed me a few things I thought I might be able to not mess up too badly. Now there are a handful of recipes I think I do well- they are all very simple and generally use one bowl (the best kind of recipe).
I was reminded today of a time when I had baked a cake for a play date with a fellow mum. She was super impressed at how “domesticated” I was, baking and all… “Oh it’s nothing,” I said. “I just used a packet mix.” Her look was a blend of poorly disguised disappointment and relief- I wasn’t ‘all that’ after all. “Oh you don’t have to tell anyone! They’d never know.” Really? Should I be ashamed of baking with a packet mix? Why??? I want people to know. I especially want other mums to know that their ‘performance’ as a mum, wife, woman, human being, should NOT be dependant on the effort they put into bloody baking. The number of fellow mums who have sheepishly brought out a store bought packet of biscuits at a school class park play date, apologising for their offering, is quite astounding. This is how we judge our peers is it?
I remember when Miss M was in prep, she was admonished by the teacher aide, albeit gently, I think, for bringing cake to school for morning tea. Excuse me??? I didn’t know I’d be up against morning tea police. Did she even know what was in the cake? It happened to be zucchini and apple puree (and flour, oil, sugar and eggs of course) and was the only way I could get some vegetable into my daughter at the time. I was not impressed and told Miss M all of this and hoped she would pass it on. I packed it again the next day of course, and no further comment was made.
There is so much judgement out there. I just want us to be real with each other and focus on proactive kindness rather than succumbing to the eternal chatter of our often fragile egos that like to bring others down to boost themselves. It might be hard but so worthwhile. Let’s be honest with each other about our parenting styles, quirks and wobbles. It’s okay. Speaking of wobbles, now that I’ve finished my mini rant, and the wine glass is drained, I really need to put these girls to bed. They’ve started pushing each other around in the doll’s tiny pram… and is that crying or laughing I hear? It’s definitely time to adult.
Thanks for reading x