Not too long ago I spoke about my overwhelm as a WAHM, and more recently I talked about my wish for more help with my babies. But I’ve had an epiphany I want to share, because I BET all other work at home parents will get this, in a way my husband never can. That’s not a criticism of him, it’s simply a fact. Until somebody lives this life, how can they possibly understand? Today I’m going to share the real reason mums are short of time (can equally apply to dads – whoever is the primary caregiver).
I have all kinds of demands placed upon me, every day. From writing impressive words (hopefully), to wiping bottoms; from being a demented rotweiller-with-a-bone when a cowboy garage tries to do us over (more on this soon), to rustling up gourmet meals out of a tin of soup, four crackers past their best and an avocado that should have been ripe two weeks ago. All of these things, and many, many more are necessarily part of my repertoire. Which, incidentally, I find myself adding to every day.
(Today’s new skill: running through torrential rain pushing a pram and balancing a three year old on my hip, whilst playing dodgems with the oncoming foot traffic. In 5°C. Oh, and sacking a cleaner who thinks it’s acceptable to spend two hours ‘cleaning’ my kitchen – clearly she’s never been as pushed for time as I am because in the course of two beautiful, child-free hours, I’d whip my entire house into shape.)
Also, whilst normal life is ongoing (including the obligatory feeding of humans, and the calling of credit card companies to deal with said cowboys – does it ever end?), I am also managing the emotions of a toddler. Which on the face of it, if you’ve never had the pleasure, sounds quite lovely.
You’d be forgiven for envisaging sitting cross-legged threading daisy chains and snuggling with warm milk. LOLs.
The Real Reason Mums Are Short of Time and Overwrought
But here’s the thing – it’s not the pressure that has me teetering at the edge of sanity. Genuinely. Not even when you factor in pressing work commitments which must be fitted around the realities of life as a parent to
incontinent imps scrummy little darlings.
No, in actual fact it’s the disorienting bending of the laws of physics.
Allow me to explain…
Time is a constant, right? Well, allegedly. Except we all know the truth feels somewhat different when you have a tight deadline, compared to, say, when you’re handling a three year old in the throes of a meltdown. Sometimes even playing with a toddler can feel tedious. Yep, I went there and for the love of all that is alcoholic can we please just say it like it is? Playing with toddlers is fun. For five minutes. Because singing ‘Daddy is a Bogie’ on loop (true story) when I *could* be writing that commissioned article or editing photos can feel somehow…vapid.
Nailing the art of being fully present for my daughter, so that when I belt out those words I really hit the high note on the penultimate syllable and she knows I really mean it – that’s when I feel like I’m bossing being a parent.
Back to my epiphany… The wild swinging between time being far too limited to complete the infinite number of administrative tasks required to be a functioning adult, versus the apparently everlasting tedium of being alone with two small children is, frankly, exhausting.
I’ve coined my theory The Parent Paradox.
The frustration borne of knowing there absolutely is the perfect amount of time in which to accomplish all the tasks required on you, if only your child would entertain themselves for the five minutes it would take you to empty the dishwasher or the ten minutes it would take to fold the washing, is what jangles my nerves and keeps me in a cycle of anxiety.
And right now, that anxiety seems only to grow exponentially. I mostly manage it well – until somebody else passes comment about how tough they’ve found a few minutes in my situation. Then I remember how hard it is. It ain’t always easy, but someone has to do it – and I’d prefer to endure every seemingly impossible moment than allow a stranger my privilege.
Being – of course – a part in the euphoria my daughter derives from our harmonies of ‘Daddy is a Bogie’.
If you agree this is the real reason mums are short of time, please consider sharing!