Mums do the toughest job. Ever. Keeping baby safe inside you for nine months and then churning out sounds and expletives you never knew could come out of your mouth while bringing said baby into the world is the easy part (something I realised less than a month into motherhood). Looking after that pretty helpless yet oh-so-precious part of you, that you miraculously co-created; keeping him safe and happy and healthy; and being responsible for teaching him right versus wrong, is a pretty taxing job. Especially when it starts the second your screaming stops and his begins! And. Never. Ends.
Ok, before the Dads jump in to say they do their bit as well – and modern-day dads are indeed hands-on – it’s just not the same thing. Attribute it to the hormones (oxytocin, we love you), the ‘women are born nurturers’ debate, social pre-conditioning or whatever you will, but in 99 per cent of the cases, it’s Mum who is Primary Carer. Irrespective of whether she’s a Working Mum or a Stay-At-Home-Mum.
And although it’s a job we love, or learn to love, it’s not the most rewarding. For starters, it’s unpaid. That’s not to say we don’t get frequent bonuses (pee in our face, sick on our clothes, months of sleepless nights, and years of toddler tantrums) but there’s no fat paycheque at the end of the month. Yet, the perks are innumerable – baby flashing toothless smiles at you through the day, sometimes accompanied by gurgles and chuckles; watching baby take those first wobbly steps; hearing baby say a full sentence which grammatically isn’t babyspeak; seeing the joy on baby’s face when he finally manages to catch a bubble. No promotion can beat that!
But as Mums would know, these ‘benefits’ are sandwiched between more mundane and demanding tasks like soothing a colicky baby who has relentlessly been crying for the past two hours (earplugs, please); entertaining an irritable teething seven-month-old who won’t flash that to-die-for smile no matter what you do; persuading a toddler to nap when he wants to keep….on….playing; patiently explaining to your toddler (probably for the tenth time since morning) that he has to announce the arrival of his poo before its actual arrival (another change of underpants)… you get the drift. Which makes what mums do as challenging and stressful as a nine-to-five corporate job. Complete with office politics, albeit of a different kind: ‘Alright, you can have some cake ONLY if you finish your lunch’/ ‘If you close your eyes and nap for 30 minutes, I’ll let you see telly afterwards.’
There are no extended office lunches (it’s a wonder if I get some real food in me most days!), no after-office drinks (unless you count the glass(es) of wine you sip (gulp) when baby’s finally asleep) and no business talk (though when I say ‘Eat your veggies or no going to the park today’, I mean serious business!). Just baby-talk. About Old McDonald and the animals on his farm. Or what Mr Tumble will be making today. Which is fine, but it would also be nice to talk about more serious issues like global warming and what new controversy Lindsay Lohan is embroiled in at the moment. (C’mon, we all need a break!).
Yet, we willingly do it all day after day. Waking up with a smile even though we wish we could get 15 minutes more shut-eye; singing Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star on repeat just because you know baby loves to hear it; picking up food from the floor that you so lovingly prepared for your toddler, while wishing it was in his mouth instead; and sitting by his cot night after night till he drifts off to sleep. Job done for the day.
(This blog is not meant to upset or take away from the wonderful jobs Stay-At-Home-Dads do. We need more of your tribe!)
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