An article on the Huffington Post yesterday made an excellent point – so many fulltime mothers tend to introduce themselves as “just a stay-at-home mum.” Just. Just. Could there be a bigger understatement?
There are so many times when the word ‘just’ is appropriately used, but describing motherhood is not one of them. Before being at home with my baby, I knew in theory that the work of the home is demanding. But I’ll admit something: the way I pictured it in my head sometimes leant more towards a sepia-tinted version, complete with lots of leisure time. Until we’ve been there – as mother or father – we can’t really know what it’s like or how much of a 24/7 role it is.
A stay-at-home mum, to me, is my own mother – pregnant for 81 months of her life with the nine of us; first to wake up and last to go to bed; wanting only for us to be happy and kind to one another (literally – that was her answer every birthday, when we asked what she wanted).
A stay-at-home mum, to me, is one of my closest friends – five kids in five years of marriage (including one set of twins); and yet you’ll never see her stressing out or breaking a sweat when looking after them. Not to mention that she always has time to chat and offer the most practical advice!
A stay-at-home mum, to me, is my best friend’s mum – despite the difficulties of moving houses a lot while her many kids were growing up, I’ve never caught her without a smile on her face or without a warm welcome for anyone who enters the house.
And even I impress myself sometimes, when I carry in the baby plus all the groceries in one go (mostly so I don’t have to go back to the car)!
But seriously, these are the people I look up to with eyes wide full of admiration; people I could never prefix with a ‘just.’ While every job requires hard work and effort, there’s nothing quite like being on call, every hour of the day, and still being happy to go the extra mile out of love. Stay-at-home mums may be looked down upon (as the article points out) for being financially taken care of – but really they are the ones looking after all of us.