There is no “ME” in MUMMY.

You know that cute little paragraph we all read from time to time on Facebook about how being a mother is a twenty four hour a day job, seven days a week? How we get no benefits? How our bosses don’t pay us a salary or give us sick days? How we have to be doctors and psychiatrists and teachers and mechanics and electricians and handymen and policemen? You know how we ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ these little glib paragraphs and smugly smile because we know that this job is so rewarding and wonderful that it’s worth all the crap that gets thrown at us (often literally)?  Well, I’m not laughing at it today. I’m not liking or sharing. I’m thinking it’s a pretty damn crappy deal I have here, quite frankly. Now, now, Mrs Judgy, before you start writing to me to tell me I am an unfit mother or that I don’t appreciate my blessings or that I don’t deserve my children, give me a minute, okay?  Come here, grab a cup of coffee (you may as well have the one I just made, since it’s the third cup I’ve made today and I didn’t get to drink the other two because a small person needed me RIGHT NOW why should I get to have the third anyway?) and let me explain. First, I need to get out of the way the obvious that (sadly) needs to be stated to ward off the McPerfects, the Judgersons and the Stickybeaks: I love my children beyond measure and I would gladly take a bullet, be hit by a train or eaten by a pack of rabid zombie lions for them. I wouldn’t change my life for anything and I absolutely get how immensely blessed I am. Okay, now that we have that on the table, I need to vent. Is it only me or is it all mothers who feel like there is no time left in their lives for themselves? Really. NO TIME.  From the 6am “I can’t find Barbie’s shooooooe!” wake up to the 9:30pm “Pleeeeeease, for the love of muffins, go to bed!” negotiation I find myself running around like a headless chicken doing a million things to keep the house running, working my no-longer-perky arse off in an effort to keep the kids stimulated, organising playdates, clean clean clean cleaning and why-the-hell-is-my-house-so-messy-with-all-this-damn-cleaning? I eat breakfast as I drive (if I’m lucky), I skip lunch, my laundry baskets are always full, as is my kitchen sink. As soon as all these things are done, that mean little list laughs and taunts me by beginning again. This is all before I can even think about doing any actual non-kid-or-house-related work. Work. You know, that thing I do from home. (That thing I do that my kids seem to think is a hobby.) It may as well be a cute little hobby. In the last ten days I haven’t managed to do any of my own work. None. Nada. Zip. Unless you count the last five nights when I managed to get some writing done between midnight and 3am. Not kidding. As for my blog. Well, it’s mine, so obviously it’s at the bottom of the never-ending, self-replenishing list. Yes, I’m complaining. Yes, I’m whinging. Yes, I’m frustrated.  resentment pie There are twenty four hours in a day. How is it possible that in MY life, I can’t manage to mark one measly hour out of twenty four as MY OWN?  I often joke about not being able to go to the bathroom alone. Today, it’s not funny. Today, I resent being a stay-at-home Mum. There, I said it. Bite me. I resent the way people’s eyes glaze over with boredom when they ask what I do and I tell them I am a stay-at-home Mum and I work from home, because they assume I watch Oprah and read gossip magazines. Who are these mythical housewives with all this free time? How much are they paying their staff of help? Today, I actually envy my husband and his uber-stressful job. He comes home frazzled and stressed and still, I am jealous - the ugly kind of jealous - because at least he gets to have an identity outside of “Dad”. He gets to go be a grown-up. He gets paid for his day’s work. The people he works with know him as Darren. NOT Dad. He is credited with a brain. He may be horribly stressed but even that is something I envy – because it’s about HIM. It’s a sad and ugly truth that I’m jealous of that, and it’s hard to admit, but I’m being real, and real isn’t always shiny and pretty. I chose this gig and, on the whole, I DO love it and appreciate that I have the choice in the first place. The fact that I know I am privileged to be able to be a stay-at-home Mum in the first place adds a new, fun emotion to add to the mix, in fact. Guilt. Guilt for these feelings. Guilt that today… today, quite frankly, being a stay-at-home Mum sucks. I looked around today, I searched high and low. No sign of ME. None. lost identity “Make time for yourself”, they say. “Make sure you don’t lose your identity!”, they caution. To these lovely and totally useless words of wisdom, I implore, “HOW? Seriously, after taxiing three children to and from various engagements, stocking a fridge and pantry, keeping clothes washed and sorted, supervising homework, packing lunches, unpacking uneaten (aaargghh!) lunch boxes, cooking meals and mediating wars about who called who a stinky-poo-head, there is not one minute of MY life that I can call my own. I get that I am ‘Mum’ and that means sacrifice. I get that I’m not going to have the freedom I enjoyed pre-kids. The thing is, I also get that I am not supposed to be sacrificing my entire identity. Yet, somehow I have. By putting my kids and husband and house and dog first, I have – by default – put myself last. I have put myself so far down the list that I’ve lost sight of my SELF. I’ve lost that person who had a huge range of interests and loves. I love painting. I haven’t painted in two years. I love running. I haven’t run in 6 weeks. I love reading. I’m still reading the same book I started 8 weeks ago. I love writing. I haven’t written a word in three weeks. Something is wrong here.  What am I teaching my kids? We all know that kids learn from what we do, not what we say, that they mimic us and our behavior. So, if I don’t value myself enough to allocate a tiny piece of my own life to me, how can I expect them to develop any sort of healthy self-esteem themselves? I didn’t picture this when I decided to be a full-time Mum. It’s not that I’m overwhelmed with the laundrycookingcleaning (blah blah blah) or the endlessvomitandsnotparade (and war and apparent deafness when I allocate chores, but I digress). I know, for sure, it would be doubly hard if I worked outside of the home. lobotomy My frustration and sadness today is about the sheer indignity of being reduced to maid, nanny and housekeeper in the eyes of the world and – yes – in my own esteem. The award-winning copywriter, the dynamic creative with a promising advertising career, the personal trainer, the interesting girl with more to talk about than her kids – where is she? I want to be home with my kids and be there in all their growing-up moments. I do. I want to be Michelle, too.  I need to be Michelle, too. Lately, Michelle has been locked away and I can’t find the key. I wish I had a funny ending, a feel-good-tie-it-all-up-in-a-warm-and-fuzzy-way ending to this post. I don’t. Today, I feel frustrated, trapped and lost. Ironically, it’s because They call me Mummy. This post was featured on Mamapedia.com  mamapedia
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About Michelle Lewsen (They Call Me Mummy)

Michelle Lewsen is an award-winning copywriter with 18 years’ experience in the advertising industry. She is the author of theycallmemummy.com where she writes about her imperfect parenting, struggles with work-life balance and the often laugh-out-loud chaos that her Adult ADHD brings to her life. Michelle was honoured as a Voice of the Year by BlogHer in 2013 (“Inspiration” category) and again in 2014 ("Heart" category) for her writing on theycallmemummy.com. The three most interesting and fun people she's ever met call her Mummy and keep her feet firmly planted on the ground. The same goes for her husband, who suffers through her adult ADHD with an admirable generosity of spirit. In her spare time (between 1am and 6am) she's been writing a series of children's books. Soon, she'll be publishing them and your kids are going to adore them, so watch this space.

Posted on J April, 2013, in Family, Funny, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, Self-esteem and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

21 comments
clynne76
clynne76

Hi Michelle I am not a stay at home mom, I do get to be like your husband- I sort of get to have a life outside of the house. SORT OF. I am an oncology nurse, so technically I am still second or last to my family and patients. I joked to my husband that daddies get to "stop" being daddies the minute they leave for work- because they leave the details (ALL of them) up to the mommies- who despite trying to find even 5 min of me time NEVER stop being mommies. We are constantly on- thinking about who needs to go where?, are there clean clothes?, what am I making for dinner?- do I have all the ingredients?, did I mail that check?, etc, etc and on and on. The list never ends, are minds never stop. I lucked out that my husband took my daughter to visit his mom this weekend and I got 24 hours of ME time. Getting ready in the morning with music I WANTED to listen to, not cartoons or ugh-sports. But the sad part was, I missed them. I missed the giggles and the noise from the TV. Don't feel bad about wanting the ME time. WE as moms need it. We have earned it. I love your blog and love your insight. Christina

Cheri
Cheri

Everyone needs to vent now and then, especially when there's such a valid reason. i don't think speaking the truth about the difficulty of raising kids and running a household should ever imply you don't cherish the opportunity. My son is grown now, but many years ago, I was a SAHM for a couple of years (age 1-3). It was wonderful on so many levels, but those two years were just about the most I could take. I admire your ability to stay strong and be what your kids need you to be.

dinkyinky
dinkyinky

This was me. This Morning. I waited til he was on that big yellow twinkie on wheels, and cried. I was so mad/sad/stressed/overwhelmed, and was barely able to wait long enough for him to be out of sight. Then I had to set a load of wash/dishes/any machine that could mindlessly run while I ran and paid bills/filled out paperwork/tried to get my growing list of things to do done. I returned 20minutes before he got home, good job Pizza in hand, and managed to hold it together just enough to get him to finish his routine after school(which he did not want to do today, to the point of stimming over it) then while he was having "the best surprise dinner ever", I ran to my room to have another good cry. I am an artist, and silversmith, and have not cast in years, nor painted/doodled in months. I'm jealous of every married couple, because they have back up. There is just me here. I get crap because I do not "have a man bringing home the bacon". That so-called man left when my son was 16 months old, and never got to get the diagnoses, the constant night terrors and 4 am wakeup calls, the going to school to tell the teachers he does not in fact get it, and won't get it for another 20 calls. My day...school calling and me telling them that no, he will not eat the lunch special, because it has sauce, no, not even then. Give him the veggies and a Peanut butter jelly sandwich and a milk. Five minutes later, another call because they did not realise he uses ASL to communicate when frustrated, and punished him for not talking to them respectfully, when in fact he was. And then I opened my inbox and saw MummyMishy knew just how it is. Thanks for sharing. Hugs to you, and hope your bad day turns into the best days ever. You deserve it.

licadee
licadee

Oh Lordy. When you get the naysayers commenting just ignore them. There's no way they NEVER feel the way you have shared today. Unless they aren't human of course. I'm 3 years in to my SAHM gig and recently switched to WAHM. And I plan on homeschooling. Excuse me while I have a good laugh at myself. Anyway, when I feel like you feel I have been trying to come back to this post time and again http://www.gracelaced.com/2012/08/02/embracing-your-role-as-wife-and-mom-for-what-it-is/ It may not speak to you as it does to me, but I thought I would share it just in case it does. Or maybe it will help some of your readers. Even now that I am a WAHM I am trying to keep in my head that my WAHM work is really not my first or even "real" job. Yes I might prefer to be doing it instead some times but the real job really is raising these two little ones to be good humans. Too bad when we update our resumes many years from now we can't refer them to the individuals we raised. "Go see this person at this address. I did that. I spent 20+ years of my life to create what you see when you go see that person. Oh and I did it while simultaneously guiding another person, at this address" I think everyone that belittles what we do as SAHM/WAHM can really just shove it where the sun don't shine and I don't even need to stick around to hear what they have to say to that because I could care less. They don't know. And I'm not interested in talking with someone that isn't educated on a topic they are trying to talk about. So anyway. Rant away. I feel your frustration....and your soon following guilt. When I feel like that I read that post I shared and I refocus. And that USUALLY works. Other times I pack up the kids and go get a vanilla chai latte! :D

MelAnn
MelAnn

Oh ... I so relate - I have had sick kids at home and I work from home and that doesn't make for a good combination when they aren't at school! I love them and fight the resentment thing often. I have my own bathroom but I still can't go in there in peace... Love your blog - added it to my Feedly so I can follow you! found u via UBC!

Michelle
Michelle

My girls are all in school now so I have plenty of me time. However, even when they were small I always made time for what I liked (mostly reading). Lots of things can be ignored if you need to sit down and put your feet up. I still wash and dry the clothes but my kids put their own away, folded or not. They don't wear matching socks because they don't care enough to make pairs. My windows aren't sparkling clean but I don't care. If my kids leave a toy out, they put it away. If they want a snack, they get it themselves and clean up afterwards. I have a friend whose house is always super clean. She has three boys about the same age as my girls. I asked her how her house is always so clean and she said that she literally follows them around, cleaning up after them. They don't do any of the work keeping the house in order, from taking their own dishes to the kitchen to hanging up their coats when they come in. And that works for her but it does not work for me. Sure, it's way more effort to teach kids to do things themselves but in the long run, it has given me more me time. My 6-year-old gets up in the morning, makes her own breakfast (cereal, oatmeal, bagels), dresser herself, brushes her hair and teeth, and packs her own lunch. She is responsible for remembering what needs to be in her backpack. She's been doing this since Grade One started in September (she has two older sisters who showed her what to do). So when I get up in the morning, I go online, read my favourite websites, eat breakfast, shower, etc. If I hear, "Mom, where's my toque?", I reply, "Wherever you left it." When I'm not stressed in the mornings, everybody has a better day. And it wasn't always this way, of course. When my girls were younger, I was so busy doing things for them that I often felt overwhelmed. One of the most important things I taught them from about age one on was how to play by themselves, without me entertaining them or guiding what they would do. As a result, all three of my girls have fabulous imaginations and can go on 9 hour car trips to visit the in-laws without complaining or being bored. This is what works for me. If I don't get time to read during the day, I am not a happy camper. I make time to read because it's what I love. And these days really do fly by. I have an almost teenager and I'm not sure how she got there so quickly. There have been days when I wanted to just give up and curl under a blanket and hide but fortunately, those days are not frequent. Everyone tells me that having teenagers is harder than toddlers so I guess I'll find out soon enough if that's true.

momshieb
momshieb

I totally understand how you feel, even from the vantage point of looking back at motherhood. Good for you for finding a way to vent and for being so honest! I've been a stay at home mom (not for long!), a working Mom, and now a working empty nester. NOTHING was harder than those endless days of taking care of everybody in the world except for myself. NOTHING. It is exhausting, draining, frustrating, endless, unrewarded and the worst part is that if you do it well, no one notices that you ARE doing it. I hope that it helps to know that every single Mom in the world has felt the same way at some point. (Ignore the "perfects"; they're lying). I hope it helps to know that before you know it, it will be finished, and YOU will still be there, reading to be reborn. I hope it helps to know that you're doing the most important job on earth. Seriously. Without good parents, the species is doomed. There. How's that for encouragement! Love, from the empty nest Momshieb

marimusing
marimusing

At breakfast this morning I heard the tinkly voice of a toddler outside my dining room window. Peeping outside, I saw a curly-locked little one briefly tottering outside next door before her mother - hair still soaking wet down her back - scooped her indoors. Our new neighbours moved in late last night - backed a trailer down the driveway and obviously collapsed in exhaustion very soon afterwards. I smiled and recognised that woman - the woman I've been, the woman you described today in your blog. A week ago exactly, our neighbour of the past 22 years moved out. Her husband passed away just over a year ago aged 92 and she is moving on somewhere smaller and closer to her daughters and young adult grandchildren. That woman is ahead of me. Our neighbours on the east, across the road, and to the west have been treading the same path: we've observed each other's children arrive and grow up, graduate, learn to drive; we've aged from our thirties to our fifties; we've heard each other laughing in our back yards as well as bellowing at our children; some have got fat, others have got fit. The neighbours across-the-road-and-down-one-west moved in a year ago with two little boys who excitedly received hand-me-down scooters from our shed. The cycle of suburban life. Ten years ago I took up martial arts - something for me that wasn't related to children, house or the photography business. As the gradings got tougher and the training became more time-consuming, well, you'd have thought my absence from home and hearth for a couple of hours in the evening was the cause of all hell on earth! Fighting tooth and nail for MY time was more exhausting than my black belt grading! But the cycle rolls on. Now I have time to study and forge a new career; time to spend four hours riding 100km on my bike; time to write blog-sized comments! I'm still Mum, I still run the company, but each year, parcels of responsibility are shared more evenly throughout the household. A misplaced shoe or a unlaundered shirt is not my concern any more - but the shoulder to cry on, the ear to listen, the wisdom to impart, the banners to wave and the home-cooked meal always will be - and who would have it any other way? So Michelle, your 'me' time will come - before you know it! - but in the meantime, it sure helps to have a bloody good rant. Today, you feel trapped, frustrated and lost in the heart of the maze that is stay-at-home motherhood. Keep walking straight ahead and turn right at the end... your future you awaits. And she's FANTASTIC!

The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Sadder But Wiser Girl

This is funny that you posted this today, because I'm spending the evening writing a guest post for a friend comparing my actual day vs the life that my husband thinks I lead. :-) We all need a chance to vent, don't we? We also need opportunity to be ourselves. I feel like my husband has all of these interesting things to say about work and I'm like, um, "Andy Samberg was on Sesame Street." So here's to seeking that little bit of time where we get to be ourself instead of Mommy! Great post!

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank you so much for those words - I absolutely love that you consciously put the true value of our JOB out there. The idea that one day we just might be looking across the dinner table at an incredible adult (or two or three) who is successful and strong and know that we were instrumental in guiding that person to that point - WOW. THAT focused me in a big way. As for the Vanilla Chai Latte... I like your style.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thanks MelAnn and welcome (visualise trumpets and a doorman in a red velvet suit) to They Call Me Mummy.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Amen sista. If you can't breathe, you're of no use to anyone. (Now to find that mask under this pile of blocks...)

mummymishy
mummymishy

You have a great point there. We DO get to choose how much we take on. I am overwhelmed because I chose to take on all I have. Now I have a chance to make new choices - The choice to accept/not accept that I cannot do it all, the choice to decide how I am going run life from now on and the choice to ask for help if I need it. Thank you.

momshieb
momshieb

Ooops "Ready to be reborn", although "reading to be reborn" is a cool idea, too.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Mari, you made me cry! What an incredibly wonderful comment and so totally spot-on. I so appreciate having YOU ahead of me :) (Can I re-post your comment on the facebook page? I think it's something EVERYONE should read.)

mummymishy
mummymishy

THANK YOU for getting it. Oh, the relief! I'm still waiting for the barrage of "You don't deserve your perfect life!" naysayers.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank you so much :) And guess what - I woke up the next day, having vented, and suddenly life is wonderful again. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to pick up the crap that's weighing us down, offload that toxic goop and enjoy the lightness that comes with letting it go. Thank you for your beautiful words, today and always.

marimusing
marimusing

Thank you sweetie and feel free to repost... but you're smiling now yes? :)

momshieb
momshieb

I'm so glad that you are feeling better! I remember well what those days felt like! In fact, after reading your post, I was remembering a day when I put all three kids in my bedroom, with the baby in a playpen, locked them in, and then took a shower in the bathroom in that bedroom. Just so I could cry long and loud and all by myself!

mummymishy
mummymishy

Yep! Cuddling my babies, who are home from school and feeling decidedly less burdened :)

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