Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Little Sting

I enjoyed a deliciously decadent afternoon recently - it started with a fashion show, a cocktail and afternoon tea and progressed to prosecco and funny, deep conversations over pizza later. A really good day, which was all the more special because a) it was with good friends and b) not the way I normally punch in a Saturday. Maybe if I spent every Saturday quaffing pear bellinis, I'd be like just so over it and it would be sooooo boring....I doubt it, mind you, but maybe.

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


  1. The mammy guilt is the worst. I don't do half of what you do and I feel bad about not doing anything properly. Kids need to know that their parents are people with other interests, friends and a need to get their heads cleared! You do a fab job & your mate was prob just wishing she could be drinking in the sun, laughing and looking amazing, just like you x

  2. Hello Emma. I just wanted to say that I love your blog ... Mainly because it is "real". Thank you x

  3. As always Emma, you hit the nail on the head and beautifully articulate what everyone else is feeling. Your blog is mommy therapy :-) Beautiful ! (Susan I)

  4. As Usual Em, you articulate beautifully what everyone else is feeling. You give the best Mommy therapy :-) xoxo

  5. Well on Saturday I'm going out! From 2pm until about midnight....I'm so looking forward to it but will no doubt feel the mummy guilt at some point during the day/evening!!

  6. I can relate to is much written here. I'm at home on a career break and it's working really well for my family. And I really enjoy it, most of the time too! But unintentionally some friends make remarks 'Lucky you, what do you do all day???' 'Sure how can you be busy? Sure you don't work!' I find it hurtful - I feel emotionally busier than when I worked full time! And as for my daughters, one of them sobbed this morning as she had to go to after clubs for one hour while I attended a hospital appt! I felt sooo bad. When I worked, she didn't see me until 6pm! Anyway, I can relate! You are doing a great job, I am doing a great job! You have my vote!!

  7. Ditto your comments - hope the sun shines for you over the Easter holidays. x

  8. If you could live on guilt it would sure bring the food bill down x

  9. Hi Emma. It is amazing how a comment can knock you off your stride. I am feeling it as well. I am trying to work from home as well as look after my two in the easter holidays and feel guilt that I feel my work is suffering (although I know it is not), guilt that my two are playing games on their xbox because I don't have time to do it all at the moment. My eldest is 14 and an absolute treasure at times and a monster at others, my 10 year old having been no trouble at all is just starting to show signs of the dreaded teenage behaviour. Sorry I am rambling - just wanted to say, when pregnant you worry about the birth but looking back that was the easy bit, it is the never ending anxious state you end up as a mum is what no-one tells you about. Lots of love Laura xx PS. It is also good for dads to do the mum's job once in a while!!

  10. We all feel that way ;) that's why I think we end up surrounding ourselves with likeminded mummy-friends! I love a drop of prosecco in the sun :))) x

  11. Love this post Emma - i think you have hit the nail right on the head.
    I feel bad, so much of the time. That i am not fully engaged, that i enjoy time off a bit too much, that i am actually looking forward to my oldest starting school!
    But then i think you can't be expected to give up all sense of yourself for your kids, it's ok to want and need a bit of time for yourself too.
    I bloody love my kids, more than anything, but they aren't half boring and annoying a lot of the time. And prosecco in the sun? No contest! x