Wednesday 3 May 2017

Am I invisible ? Who said that ?

Yesterday when Brown Bear was dressing for school he was insisting he wanted to wear shorts and I told him it was far too cold. He reluctantly wore long trousers and I felt vindicated by the grim weather as I dropped him off at the playground. Then later in the morning it was glorious sunshine and I felt guilty so I took his shorts to school and left them with the school office so he could change into them at break-time. I picked up Blue Bear and took a snack for both boys to eat on the way home from the second pick up. Between the time we got home and left for Beavers Brown Bear barked orders at me ranging from, "toast and jam," "beans on toast," "a glass of water," and "pudding." There may have a been a please or two in there if I'm being generous.

I had planned to drop Blue Bear with a neighbour while I took Brown Bear to Beavers as Hubbie wouldn't be home yet. Then he got home early and Brown Bear cheered, "Daddy, I want you to take me to Beavers." When we explained that I was doing it he whined, "Oh I don't want Mummy to take me." Through gritted teeth I explained that I had already made plans to do it and that was that. I had also asked another parent to pick him up so I could go to hear Dr Aric Sigman (remember him from Saturday morning TV where he was an 'agony uncle' answering questions from kids ?) giving a talk about managing screen time. Oh the irony having just plonked my boys in front of the TV as soon as they got home so that I could do the to-ing and fro-ing between the front room and kitchen that is my post-school routine. It was a very good talk so I'll tell you about that another time.

I asked Hubbie a while back if he could help me out as I was offered a paid gig today that meant I needed help with picking up the boys from school and nursery. Before leaving the house this morning I made a lunch for Blue Bear, packed both a school backpack and swimming kit for Brown Bear, a change of clothes for Brown Bear to have after swimming, left an after school snack on the counter and put a washing load in and started to empty the dishwasher. As I left this morning Hubbie was waiting in for the locksmith - I had called the guy having waited for a few months for it to happen by magic and when it didn't I took decisive action. If only I had done the same thing previously we wouldn't now be looking at a £400 bill to repaper the hallway which has water damage and I don't know how much to replace the wooden floor thanks to a DIY disaster. Still, we live and learn.

The mums meet for coffee sometimes and as I had Hubbie at home today I thought I'd join them for a change. We did the Blue Bear handover so he could take him to pre-school and even though I didn't have anything it was nice to sit and chat for a while with other grown ups. I was out for the rest of they day so when I called Hubbie to remind him what I'd left him for lunch I also asked if he could put on the washing machine and run the vacuum around the front room. He did that big intake of breath that he always does when I ask for a 'favour' - thank goodness I wasn't there to also witness the eyeroll that accompanies it - but said "Ok." Feeling ever so 'umble I went about my day.

When I rang later to ask how things were going I could hear the boys yelling in the background - as per. I had intended to stop on the way home and maybe pick up a few bits from the shops, but it sounded like bedlam so I went straight home. As soon as I walked in Brown Bear started demanding dinner. Well forgive me for not having your meal ready within seconds of arriving inside the house Little Lord Fauntleroy. As I took out the pasta from the fridge he had a tantrum because he'd had pasta for lunch. Well silly me what was I thinking ? Hubbie was nowhere to be seen. Of course as soon as I got in the door that must mean he's off the clock now ? A quick change of dinner plan saw the boys fed and a bit less stressed, then I emptied the dishwasher - which I hadn't finished doing this morning. I hung up the washing, went back to the cup of tea I had started making earlier and I made a start on our dinner before going out to another meeting. I popped the tea into the microwave - shuttup, it was an emergency - and put it into a travel cup to drink on the way.

I know receiving appreciation as a stay at home parent is as likely as a unicorn picking up it's own poo, but seriously when did I become a second class citizen in my family ? This nothing person who does the invisible tasks so that clothes miraculously appear when needed, meals are rapidly changed to suit just expressed preferences, lunches are there without any effort on the part of the consumer and the house for some reason isn't under a pile of smelly garbage.

When did it become ok to give no status to the person who keeps things ticking over ? Why does that go to the guy who gets to be with other adults all day every day and whose meals aren't mostly an afterthought or often leftovers ? The one who probably gets to pee when he wants to and who doesn't have to explain to anyone where he is going if he leaves the room instead of being a referee / sofa cushion / punching bag.

How on earth can I expect to ever go back to work if I can't even get respect for what I'm doing now ? I've advised companies on how to achieve equality in the workplace and I can't even achieve it in my own home. I'd think twice before advising any other woman to be a stay at home parent. In all honesty it's a poisoned chalice. I consider myself lucky to have a partner who does his share, but why do I also have to take the eye rolls, the 'asking permission' and frankly the low status that comes with being the day-to-day parent ? I used to earn more than him, I worked harder and I was worth something. Now I'm working for two small tyrants (three if you include the cat) and my business partner is more like a silent partner.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I can relate to this! I do love being a stay at home parent but I do feel as though most of what I do is invisible. Also for me it's having to book up my (very rare!) nights out months in advance, when he can just announce 'I'm going out tonight' and off he goes without having to make dinner for everyone else first!