There are few things that interest me, as much as meeting other Mumz nowadays. I see it as a chance to understand how others make it all work; the family, the job and their own sanity. Enthusiastically, I often find myself asking questions like:
-What are your long term goals? What do YOU want to do?
-How often do you do something for yourself?
-What did you study?
-What are your hobbies?
-Do you get to blow-dry your hair every day? (For the record, that was a joke:) )
I am less interested in what her husband does for a living, which school her kids go to or if she is considering having more babies anytime soon. Sometimes, other Mumz are not expecting these types of questions, especially from this crazy, Swedish chick they just met :), others don’t even know what to answer. – “Hobbies?” They say with a blank stare, like, you mean arts and crafts with the kids?” And I will need to clarify. – “No, I mean you, yourself, any hobbies, anything you like doing outside of the family?” They usually reply that they don’t have time for that, or they never thought about it. I sometimes walk away from those meetings, secretly hoping that a seed has been planted in their minds, the beginning of a new era, where they aim to develop themselves. However, I know that’s naive and of course it takes a lot more than a weird conversation with a crazy, Swedish chick they just met, to change these things. It takes honesty, and it seems the best place to find that nowadays, is the internet.
If you go online and read what other mothers all around the world are describing, it can appear as if we are fighting a constant battle, with many front lines. At our workplace we fight to keep up with the young, hot, ambitious, single woman with her elbows out, ready to walk over dead (female) bodies to climb the ladder. We are also in battle with our male co-workers, even the ones with family commitments. Despite having kids, they are always able to work late and put in that extra time, because their wives are the ones going home early from their jobs to manage the situation. We are committed to our jobs, to our careers, but our private lives are constantly grabbing our attention, stealing our sleep and demanding our presence.
At home, we are many times still expected to fulfill the typical role of the “perfect housewife”; cooking, keeping the house clean and ensuring that the kids are keeping up with their ever growing volume of homework. The men, are many times very involved, but not considered the primary responsible for all of these areas. We delegate, at best, many times, we just end up doing everything ourselves.
With our friends and family, we fight the battle of a perfect appearance. We don’t want to show everyone that we weren’t quite prepared for what was going to come, when we decided to do it all. We don’t want the questions, from the people who care about us, because that might just bring the issue to the surface, make it real for ourselves.
I spent many nights, reading other blogs on the same topic, and more importantly, the comment fields, sometimes in the hundreds, on one single post. It’s truly heartbreaking. Some mothers have nervous breakdowns, they stop at a traffic light and start crying, sometimes for hours, without even knowing why. It transcends culture, religion, race and nationality, it’s like a widespread venom, to whom no one really has an antidote. What can we do, how can we change this? Or is it just one of those elements that time will conquer?
Usually, it’s not the kids, they are beautiful and the most amazing blessing ever, and it’s not the job, its fulfilling and developing. It’s not the husband, he is supportive and caring. It’s everything, everything all together. And our own utopic (and completely unrealistic) idea of doing everything, and being everything to everyone.
I don’t have any smart solutions to offer here, no shortlisted advice. Maybe we can help eachother to find those along the way. Honesty is a first step.