At Home Mums
What shall I worry about today??
Are we defined by our children?
When I meet someone new now, generally at preschool
or swimming or at the park where I’m out
with the children, the obvious questions are how
many do you have, how old, boys or girls, are
you planning any more? I used to be an IT manger
working in the Finance Industry, now I’m
Holly and Michael’s mum. The standard uniform
used to be suits, stockings and high heels, now
my uniform is trousers and a t-shirt, no makeup,
because a) I didn’t have time b) It melts
off me as I’m running around after the children,
and c) I’m not trying to impress anyone.
Admittedly I am very glad to lose the stockings
and high heels. Actually I’d be happy never
to have to wear stockings again in my life, and
I’m far more comfortable dressed as I am.
It’s also great not to be trying to impress
But the point is, no one knows I have a degree
from Cambridge University, I had a decent career
spanning 14 years, I was doing well at work and
was respected by most of my colleagues. I had
a team of staff and a good six figure income.
So which is the real me? Perhaps they both are.
It’s just a question of changing over time.
Right now, I have exactly what I’ve always
wanted in life – a loving partner and two
gorgeous children but my job satisfaction is currently
Why is that? I used to have control over my job.
I had lists of thing that needed doing and I did
them to the best of my ability. My work colleagues
and customers could look at the results of my
work and my team's work and judge whether we were
doing ok. And generally we were.
Now how am I judged? My job is to look after
my children. So my children are a reflection of
how well I am doing my job.
I can be objective here and say that I have generally
happy children who are loved and are loving. But,
from an outside perspective, my now four year
old whinges and whines and interrupts me when
I'm talking to other people. She struggles to
say hello or goodbye to friends and neighbours
without a bit (sometimes a lot) of pressure. She
screams and stomps and occasionally hits out when
she can't articulate her frustration. This can
be at home, or when we're out - she's not fussy
where. She is happy to tell me she wants to go
home when we have just arrived at someone's place.
She will lie down on the floor in the shopping
centre or she'll run around like a mad thing,
oblivious to the people around her. And she'll
tell her pre-school mates that they're not her
friend anymore, even though she doesn't mean it.
And my nearly two year old has learnt how to
defend himself with his sister and is now experimenting
with this behaviour with other children. How bad
do I feel when he shoves or hits my friend's little
girl, or probably worse, a stranger at the park?
This is the outcome of my job. This is how I'm
judged. And I don't feel in control!
I know, I should not worry about what other people
think, but I'm afraid I'm one of those people
that likes/wants some positive feedback. Yearly
appraisals at work reflected the time and effort
I'd put into the job. It wasn't just about the
money, it was about the results.
And now, well there's no money. My kids are cute,
but don't have the right temperaments for ad work
as yet! And what about the results?
I guess I have to stop looking outside and savour
the special moments even if I'm the only one who
sees them. What's more special than your four
year old telling you that she loves you? Or your
little one giving you lots of hugs and smiles.
It was Holly's birthday last week and we went
out to our local RSL club for dinner. (I know,
times have changed, but don't knock it 'til you
try it). Being members, they have our details
on record and every year they send out a voucher
for a free ice cream cake for the kids in their
birthday month. So I left my cake making skills
for party day and we had an ice cream cake at
the club with four shining candles.
I said to Holly 'make a wish'. (as you do)
And she said, 'I don't need to make a wish. I
have everything I want. This is the best birthday
Colin was gobsmacked, til I told him about an
episode of Clifford's Puppy days we watched earlier
in the week...
Still, the sentiment was there, even if the words
PMT or Post Natal Depression?
When we got home on Thursday, Holly sat down
to take her shoes and socks off. I asked her to
keep her socks on, as on cold days, our wooden
floor boards are freezing and their feet become
little ice packs pretty quickly. Holly ignored
me and removed her socks and then removed her
brother's as well. Normally, I would be fairly
calm about this, I would tell her I asked her
to keep her socks on and explain why. I wouldn't
force them back on, but I'd tell her to come back
if her feet get cold and put them on. She's not
one to be in discomfort in any way without complaining!
And I would put Mikey's socks back on, as he can't
necessarily judge or tell me the condition of
This Thursday however, was PMT Thursday and I
got mad. I yelled. Nothing particularly offensive
or constructive, just HOLLY. WHEN I ASK YOU TO
DO SOMETHING, YOU SHOULD DO IT. But inside I was
seething. This child was completely ignoring me
and I could not find the words I needed to express
myself. Words that she would listen to. I don't
ask her to do something just for the hell of it.
There is generally a logical reason and when mummy
says to do (or not do) something, mummy should
be obeyed. I felt so mad at her, I wanted to squeeze
her till she hurt. Instead she went upstairs sockless
and Mikey was so shocked at the tone (or volume)
of my voice that he came and sat down and his
socks went straight back on.
The point is, for maybe 26 days or so of the
month, I can be patient, calm, think things through,
try to explain and give some leeway, but when
the hormones are raging, I feel grumpy and touchy
and get annoyed more easily and cannot cope as
well with the minor disasters kids throw at you
It made me think, this is what it was like every
day for a year when Michael was about 3 months
and Holly was in her terrible 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 phase.
So were my hormones all over the place? Was I
on permanent PMT or was it Post Natal Depression,
or was I just tired all the time? I get tired
now and I don't generally want to squeeze my children
till they hurt, but in that year, there were regular
evenings when I can safely say they pissed me
off something chronic. 'Will you just SHUT UP'
became the way I'd react. Not meeting my own standards
for parenting, but needing in some way to outwardly
express my inward anger.
I sought help on a number of occasions, but I'm
not very good at asking for it directly, so I
wanted people - the midwife, the doctor, my friends,
to notice and let me know it was ok. In hindsight,
how I can expect these busy people, to notice
my frame of mind, I don't know. A fault I've always
been guilty of I think. Like the time I went home
for a week before I got married, hoping someone
would ask me if I was doing the right thing, so
I could say 'no', but not having the guts to bring
it up myself, as it would be admitting a failure
in some way. (I ended up getting married and divorced
within a year, but that's another story....)
Anyway, I am not good at admitting I need help,
or even knowing that perhaps I should get it.
Eventually at Mikey's one year check up, the midwife
suggested a visit to Tresillian would be beneficial
to get Mikey's sleeping pattern sorted and maybe
address some terrible two behaviour. Unfortunately
I'd left it a bit late. One place I called didn't
take babies over one, another wouldn't take siblings,
and leaving Holly at home for a week would have
exacerbated the problem, not helped with it. So
we didn't get any outside help.
But, when I stopped breastfeeding Michael at
about 14 months (he was a real booby baby..) and
he finally started sleeping through on a reasonably
regular basis, things gradually improved. I got
my energy back and a bit more sleep and began
enjoying my kids more.
I still think, was that PND, or just tiredness?
I have a friend who definitely had post natal
depression. She couldn't get out of bed in the
morning and felt physically ill with it. Compared
with that, this was nothing, but maybe there are
different degrees of depression. If there was
a next time (which there's not going to be!) then
hopefully I would do things differently and get
As it is, on PMT days, a couple of hours alone
is a good option. Not always possible, but at
least I know why I feel like I feel and that it
won't last long...
My body is betraying me, and since it has a fairly
close relationship with my mind, my mind is joining
in to. I think it's something to do with not having
enough to think about. Not that there aren't a
hundred things to do in a day, but most of it,
the washing, the cleaning, the playing, the cooking,
even the negotiation and the desperate searching
for patience, are all fairly routine stuff. The
closest my brain gets to a challenge is doing
the Sudoku puzzle in the paper while watching
the kids in the bath. So, when it comes down to
it, I have not much time to do anything, and a
lot of time to think. And the thinking at the
moment is about babies. (Don't tell Colin) We
have decided we are only having two children as
we are older parents (I had my 40th last year)
and we don't cope with the lack of sleep as we
might have done 10 years ago. There are also other
factors such as the money required and the logistics
of having three verses two, not to mention the
strain it would put on our relationship to go
through that baby stage again.
I have been fully on board with this since before
we had Michael, but since weaning him off the
boob, every month, like clockwork, my body reminds
me that it is ovulating, and perhaps I should
be doing something about it. It never happened
like this before children. My periods were regular,
but I used ovulation tests to check when I was
ovulating, as I could never be a quite sure. Since
babies though, I swear that at that same time
mid month each month, my body aches for a day
or two at just the time I think I'd be ovulating.
For the most part I've just thought, how interesting,
my body is telling me what's going on, but recently,
it's got worse. Now I feel horny at the same time!
So not only is my body telling me time is running
out, here's the eggs, give it a go, but it's also
saying, go on, here's your man, seduce him!
Colin's not going to complain about that, as
I have to admit initiation on my part has not
been a frequent event in the last four years,
but if he knew the background he'd probably run
a mile. Lucky for us, he's in charge of contraception.
I try and logic my feelings. We recently gave
away all of our baby things and Michael is nearly
two, so we've finished the baby stage for ever.
I look in baby shops and there are such great
things, which I have no excuse to buy any more.
Also, I like my kids at the moment. They play
well together, Holly can be caring and sweet to
Michael and they have lots of fun. He's also at
the great stage of language development which
can be really cute and funny. So, I guess I'm
just looking at them and thinking, they're not
that bad, I could have another one of these.
The other thought is that I'm looking for a sense
of purpose. I was talking to a friend about money
the other day and how it would be easier if we
had sacrificed a bit on location and gone for
a smaller mortgage, and she pointed out to me
that in a few years time I'll be earning again
and it'll be easier. And I thought, oh yes, that's
probably right, but what will I be doing?? I have
no career plan, apart from looking after the kids,
so maybe I'm thinking about babies because it
prolongs that sense of purpose. Nine months with
a specific goal in mind - to have a healthy baby,
and then 3 years before they start pre-school
where the focus is 100 percent on caring for my
But let's think about those nine months. I had
relatively easy pregnancies, but even so, the
thought of being pregnant again doesn't really
appeal. Nine months of aches and worries, heartburn,
breathlessness, clothes not fitting and trousers
continually falling down, not to mention lack
of sleep, the need to pee at least three times
a night and the fact my bladder is almost certain
never to recover. Actually the only positive I
can think of is the boobs. Be nice to have them
back for a little while...
So, pregnancy doesn't appeal, the birth certainly
isn't a fun part, and the first 14 to 18 months
are knackering, which doesn't do anything for
my patience, sense of humour or sex drive.
I've done my bit with breast feeding and have
no unfulfilled desires there, I have pureed enough
food to last a lifetime and we're looking forward
to a nappy free house in the foreseeable future.
(How much does two and a half years of nappies
And then there's the logistics of the whole thing.
Who holds the extra hand, who carries the extra
child when everyone wants a carry, who reads the
third set of stories before bed, where does the
third child sit when two knees are already taken?
Don't get me wrong, if I were 10 years younger,
my response to this would probably be to start
a round of gentle hints and persuasion with Colin.
I admire the mums with three, especially those
who maintain a sense of calm, but I set 40 as
my own personal no go zone for babies, and I think
I should stick with it. After all, instead of
potentially straining a beautiful relationship
and a happy family, my new found sex drive could
make things a lot more fun, at least once a month
anyway. Perhaps I should take up crosswords as
well as Sudoku...
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