I don’t get “the guilt trip” very often from Fletcher; he usually just asks me to help him build his marble run or make him a new t-shirt. In fact I can’t think of the last time he said something that made be feel truly guilty about an action or decision…until last night. Picture the scene: he is shattered generally because he’s a week away from finishing his first full year at school (and one of the youngest too), he’s especially tired tonight because he had a friend over to play after school, and now he’s become so tired he doesn’t know whether he is coming or going. Tears and sobbing “I don’t know what I want to do” etc etc. We finally get him into bed and he’s still sobbing his little heart out…”Mummy come and snuggle with me”. Ordinarily I would, of course, get into bed with him but through this whole thing I’ve been clock watching because I was due to go out for a WI committee meeting.
Much like being a working mum, being a stay at home mum can be tough. As a stay at home mum there is only one thing to really feel guilty about because “mum” is your whole job title. Of course working mums will have “the guilt” for maybe being late home some times, or missing a school event in the middle of the day and their reason for that is they were busy doing their really important job. But as a stay at home mum its all built right into the title; you stay at home and you are a mum…so if you have to miss something or can’t be there…what on earth were you doing?! Yes there are other things I do with my day, Fletcher is out of the house for 6 hours a day and I don’t just sit around counting down the minutes (well, not anymore anyway!); housekeeping tasks, a little bit of admin work, sewing etc but everything can wait and be done tomorrow when I’m needed. Except for last night. Last night Fletcher wanted me to stay and I had to leave. Now obviously WI committee isn’t something that I would attend if there was some sort of crisis situation at home but generally speaking it is something I have chosen to be involved with and its important to me. A couple of years ago I joined one of my local WI branches for a little slice of “me” time, then a friend who was also a member talked me into joining the committee. Earlier this year, by some strange twist of fate, I ended up as the President. It’s a role I take seriously and to which I am fully committed.
People always talk about how isolating it can be when you have a young baby. But it hardly ever seems to be mentioned how isolating it can be at the other end of the scale; the stay at home mum with her child(ren) in school…like me. To be honest, I started to feel it even when Fletcher was still at home with me. Most of my “baby friends” had gone back to work by the time the babies turned one but I had decided to stay at home which meant that my adult contact really dwindled from that point onwards. A few weeks ago I was sitting in a cafe on a Friday morning having breakfast on my own. I was meant to be meeting my friend (with two babies) but she was ill poor thing. But as I had planned for a nice breakfast out, I decided to go on my own anyway. The cafe was quite busy, mostly with the older generations, but there was a group of mums with young babies in the corner. I couldn’t help but keep watching them (hopefully they didn’t see me and think I was a weird mummy stalker!) and listen to their conversation about nappies, feeding and tiredness. I remember those days with fondness; I loved having a young baby, difficult though it can be, and the friendship groups that came with it. At that stage you have so much in common, especially when it’s your first child, and help each other through the process. They do say it takes a village to raise a child but perhaps when you are a mum on your own most of the day, it takes a tribe of mothers to raise a child.
…Maybe that’s why I used to run my own business, maybe that’s why I joined WI, maybe that’s why I now write a blog…they all create a new tribe.
Anyway, back to the guilt trip. So I had to leave because I’d made a commitment to something that wasn’t a “mum” job. And it was fine. But even when Fletcher came through this morning with a smile on his face his first words to me were “Why did you have to go to your meeting Mummy? I missed you.”…they get you every time. Damn that guilt trip!