I love my other half. He is awesome. My hero and best friend combined. He works hard, puts myself and the boys first always and loves us to the moon and back. This is all a) completely true and b) a disclaimer for what I am about to talk about here in this post so that he doesn’t take offence and think I view him as a complete jerk.
Why is it, that when PB does anything around the house or with the children, I immediately feel guilty and as if I should be eternally grateful??
It’s not that I’m not appreciative. I am very appreciative whenever he does anything nice for me. But that is exactly the point. Taking the kids out whilst I stay home or have a bit of time to myself, or loading the dishwasher whilst I tackle breastfeeding should not be seen as doing something ‘for me’. No. Get that out of our socially conditioned heads shall we?! No, he is doing said things ‘with’ me. For ‘us’.
It drives me mad. I feel like an unofficial boss receiving a progress report all the time because even PB finds himself uttering phrases to me such as ‘I’ve put the washing out’ or ‘I’ve put the dishes away’. Sometimes he would even add on the cringe inducing ‘for you’ phrase. Which he soon stopped doing after I pointed out the above principle about exactly who it is for.
I don’t do it. I don’t turn around to him at the end of the day and list everything that I have done. Because I am not looking for any special recognition or thanks. The other element to this social stigma and trap is that, after I have been given the progress report, I seriously have to bite my tongue in order to avoid the overwhelming urge to say ‘Thank you’. What is that about?! Initially I did say it. A dutiful ‘thank you’ would come out and I would feel the weight of guilt and failure on my shoulders for not being able to do it all. Not because PB placed such a ridiculous mantle on me, but because I put it on myself by feeling pressurised to have everything ‘just so’ and ‘just right’ in order to prove to myself that I have my shit together, am winning at life and being the perfect fiance and mother.
Then, one day it hit me. There is no such thing as perfect and, ultimately, a home and a family are traditionally built and created by two people who are a partnership which thrives through team work. A little voice inside brought up the fact that PB works full time and I ‘just stay at home’ and once again I rallied at the thought that being a SAHM is not comparable to the stresses of working a full time job. It is. Massively. I won’t get into the full on debate about SAHM’s and SAHD’s vs Working Mum’s and Dad’s, I will save that nugget for another time. But that was the trail of thought my little social standardised puppet of a brain went down and I gave it a proverbial slap around the proverbial face.
Don’t get me wrong, as I have said, it is certainly important to appreciate one another for the efforts that each go to in order to maintain a happy family life. But I think that the clarification on this whole subject is that my priority and focus whilst being at home is indeed to keep the house and watch the children simply because I am here all the time and I am their mother and am here to nourish and nurture them within a (fairly) clean and tidy home. It is not, however, my job. My job is being a self employed hair and makeup artist. I tend to both the home and the children because it is necessary and our life. Being Mummy is my ‘role’. I play my half of our team. And PB plays his as a Dad and we appreciate one another’s efforts through seeing the success of our family unit. Mutual appreciation and gratitude is where it is at. I sometimes say tongue in cheek that ‘Motherhood is the best job’ and that ‘Children are hard work’ which is probably where the confusion lies. By labelling bringing up children and running a household as work, I am therefore assigning myself a job role and title which is why I feel the pressure to do everything and PB feels like he needs to give a progress report. As I said, being a mother is comparable to a full time job, but is it actually a job? As in, a career?
It is a really interesting and complex subject and I have made myself dizzy thinking about it around and around in my head. But, one thing that is clear, we both put our all into our family and home and are grateful for one another’s effort.
It’s simply that actually saying ‘Thank you’, in this instance, is a notion that can, quite frankly, kiss my arse.
Do you feel like you have to say thank you if your other half helps with the kids or around the house? Do you think motherhood is rightly defined as a job? Or is it a role or title we bear that is in no way a definition of our careers? Am I wrong in feeling this way? I’d love to hear your input, it will help my head stop spinning on the subject!