From time to time, one of us would proclaim out of the blue, "Check us out sitting here at 4 o'clock on a Saturday! Right now, I'd be doing the ironing/ cooking the dinner / pushing swings." Then we'd all laugh and nod and agree how we could so easily get used to this.
Later, we pottered down the road, bumping into a few familiar faces, and then sat outside and sipped prosecco in the late afternoon sunshine, under patio heaters obvs - it IS Ireland after all. When a mutual friend walked past and saw our little group, she came over to say hello, and when we started chatting she laughingly said something to me without thinking - just a careless comment, but it drained the pleasure from the moment and took the sparkle off my afternoon.
It was nothing really, a remark without malice, probably prompted by her more typical Saturday and the fact that we usually only catch up on Facebook these days. 'Are you ever at home with those kids?' she said breezily and then went on to chat about other things, but the truth is, I felt winded, kicked in the stomach, even though I know she meant no harm.
In that moment, it didn't matter that I was feeling a little fragile about our eldest going on her first school trip, or the three loads of laundry I'd ploughed through that morning, along with the guilt fuelled pasta prepared dish for the boys' dinner, and the bread and butter pudding for dessert.
It didn't matter that I've chosen to be at home full time with the children, and that it can all get a bit much sometimes, and actually I was really looking forward to a carefree day with friends. At that moment, I just felt like a crappy, selfish mother and the sparkle of the day all but evaporated.
I really had only myself to blame. My mum always told me that I'm too sensitive, I take too much to heart and I read too much into things. I also realise that Facebook can create only a partial image of one's life - for me, Facebook is generally a happy place, and I tend to post the happy, fun or interesting stuff going on, while the boring, the grumpy, or the humdrum...not so much. Of course, there's plenty of that going on too....but I suppose sometimes it may not look that way.
But why did I care? Why didn't I laugh it off, secure in the fact that I'm with my children more than most, in their faces more than they'd like, and that a break does us all the power of good. And anyway, weren't they enjoying quality time with their Da?
Because I think it touched on that insecurity way down inside that so many of us share-the worry that we're just not doing a good enough job. Whether we're working full time, part time or are at home with the kids, we all make compromises. Personally, I've never met a mammy who's declared 'Everything's perfect! I've got the whole work and family thing totally sussed!' And thank God for that, because we'd all know she was lying through her teeth anyway.
Circumstances, personalities, finances - along the way we make different lifestyle choices, but I honestly believe that ultimately, we all want the same thing - to meet everyone's needs as best as we can, and just keep the whole bloody show on the road. If someone falls off we scoop them up, but we keep right on moving. We keep 'er lit and we do our best every single day, because that's just what mammies do.
Of course some days are easier than others, and some days we might make a right old mess of it, but thankfully we're in it for the long haul. And if we get a chance to take a break, for an hour, an afternoon, or a weekend then I think it's perfectly acceptable to grab it with both hands, and often a necessity if one's sanity is at stake.
And besides, once in a while, I find that it's lovely not to be Mammy and just be me, and forget about all the lists and responsibilities, as an afternoon slips into an evening, unshaped by bath and bedtime routines. Inevitably, I laugh and relax, my batteries recharge, and after a while, I start to feel a little yearning to be home again amidst my tribe.
So the next time someone makes a remark, simply because they're having a different sort of day, or they're at a different stage of raising children, or they simply have an image on Facebook that's a little more glossy than reality, I'll do my best not to let it fan those embers of mummy guilt. Instead, I'll just be grateful that I'm lucky enough to be getting a break, safe in the knowledge that I'll be making lunches and wiping bums again soon enough!
Laters Lovelies xxx
Laters Lovelies xxx