I was a stay at home mum, and I am now a work from home mum. I am not going to justify my choices, because they are personal and what was right for my family. And that applies to anyone else and the choice they make.
There is a general assumption that mums return to work because they can’t afford not to, and mums stay at home because they can afford not to work. Whilst that may be the case for some, it is rarely that black and white. Some mums return to work because they want a career too. Some mums stay at home because they cannot afford the child care if they returned to work. Those reasons and a million others in between are all valid. Like I said this post isn’t about one being better than the other.
But what does offend me, and makes me angry, and makes me need to vent in a post like this, is when I hear people say that being a stay at home mum is a luxury.
A luxury? Really?
Because when I think of luxuries, I think of holidays, spa days, and getting my nails done. I think about designer handbags, eating out at restaurants, theatre tickets and weekend breaks. Luxuries are silk sheets, boutiques and getting my hair coloured (by a professional and not a DIY kit I bought in a half price deal). Luxury is glamour and opulence and finery. All the things that I gave up so that I could be a stay at home mum.
Would you call mopping up the glass of spilt milk a luxury? What about wiping someone else’s butt? Catching vomit with your own hands? Cleaning the kitchen knowing in an hour it will need doing again? Spending more time doing laundry than you do with you husband? Fishing Duplo pieces out of the toilet? Wiping snotty noses? Picking up dirty clothes off the kids bedroom floor?
I know these things are not exclusive to stay at home mums, or indeed mums. They are daily tasks carried out by parents, guardians and carers everywhere. And whilst I make no complaint about doing this tasks (well maybe the vomit one) I would hardly class it as living the life of luxury. Please don’t think I am saying parenting is all doom and gloom. It’s by far the best job I’ve ever had. Because for every bodily fluid I have to deal with, there are 10 times more giggles and hugs and kisses. But I cannot think of one thing that makes the job of a stay at home parent a luxury.
And don’t say the time I get to spend with my children is a luxury. It is a benefit, a perk of the job. But with that perk also comes the times that I am explaining yet again why it’s not nice to call someone a poo poo head. The flip side of that is to say that being a working mum is a luxury because they get to talk to adults all day long. They might well do, but being they are at work I’m sure they are not all riveting and insightful conversations. Stay at home or working, we all have moments of ‘the grass is greener.’ It still doesn’t make the job a luxury.
If you still think it is a luxury, then may I direct you to the actual Oxford Dictionary definition of luxury…
“A state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”
Comfort? Kneeling on the floor playing cars, scrubbing floors, or being a human climbing frame is far from comfortable. Elegance? I’m not sure dry shampoo classifies, and I don’t remember the last time my feet saw a pair of heels. And as for Great Expense? Does an M&S dine in for £10 count?
So please can we stop saying it. It’s a choice, a decision, a circumstance, or a necessity that leads us to staying at home or going to work. Both are tough, both are rewarding. Both have good days and bad days. Neither of them are a luxury.
So now I’ve had my little rant, lets finish on a lighter note with things I do consider a luxury now that I am a mum…
1 Having a lie in. Like a proper one, without a small person tying to prize open your eyes, or bounce on the bed shouting “look what I can do Mummy.”
2 Having a pee without an audience. Or without world war two erupting before you’ve had a chance to pull down your pants.
3 Having a shower that lasts more than 2 minutes and without inquisitive visitors.
4 Browsing in shops. As opposed to grabbing three things quickly and getting the hell out of dodge before there is a public meltdown.
5 Painting my nails and not having to wipe any orifices before they have dried.
6 Leaving the house with one small bag. That doesn’t contain raisins. Or rice cakes.
7 Not sharing chocolate. And not having to eat it with your head in the cupboard because you are not sharing it.
8 Drinking a cup of tea whilst it’s still hot. On the first attempt and not after it’s been microwaved.
9 Having a conversation without being interrupted. And finishing that conversation without having to rescue any small people from potential accident and emergency visits.
10 M&S dine in for £10. Especially when the husband cooks it.
What do you consider a luxury as a parent?
This post was featured on Mumsnet & Huffpost.
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