That’s right. I have it all. I am a selfish woman, a bad mother and a terrible wife – all because I want my delicious cake to eat.
I get tired of being asked how I find time to work, study and be a mother and wife, as if all these things were mutually exclusive. I’m here to tell you that they aren’t. I’m not a radical feminist by any stretch of the imagination, although I did find myself nodding in agreement with Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman (when I wasn’t giggling at her descriptions of 21st century pornography). The way I can have it all? Because I want it and I am willing to work my arse off for it. Unfortunately though, there is an inherent social ideal that women look after children, keep the house clean and the men go and earn the bacon.
I am constantly being asked, “But when do you spend time with your daughter?”, or “How do you find time for housework?” or “What on Earth does your husband think about you working so much/travelling for study/having to babysit?”. My answers to these are pretty simple. My daughter gets my undivided attention when she’s awake. She wakes up when I do. I actually use her as an alarm clock, so it’s probably fairer to say that I wake up when she does – because it’s usually by having a hand thrust up my nostrils and a “Get UP! Mummy, I want food!” being shrieked in my ear on the days I don’t get up before her to go to the gym. She goes to daycare (or as I call it, school), when we go to work, we pick her up on the way home and we play together, read together, cook dinner together, eat together, bath together, or whatever else she wants to do together until it’s bedtime. That time belongs to her.
As for housework? I reject the notion that housework is the woman’s/mother’s responsibility. James lived alone before he married me, he washed his own dishes and socks. By marrying me he does not get a free housecleaner, as much as that opinion seems ingrained into the heads of people around us. If I’m cooking, he’s cleaning. If he wants a shirt ironed, he can do it himself. I’m busy, and I hate ironing. In fact, we don’t even own one. You know how I get away with this? Because I pay someone to clean my house for me. I shop online in my lunch hour so I don’t have to go to the shops and waste more time. I’m being practical in my approach, in that I will find any way I can to get out of doing it but still have it get done.
And as for what he thinks of me studying/travelling or having to babysit? He doesn’t care. You know why? Because my daughter is actually his daughter too, and as such he doesn’t find it any great stretch of his responsibilities to you’know, look after her. Last year I was out of town a lot for study. All anyone cared to talk about was how scared I must be leaving him to look after her and how mad he must have been. Why would either of those scenarios have any basis in reality? He’s her father, it’s his job to look after her. As her father, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have looking after her when I had to go away. Jeez, people. From all the horrified comments you’d think we’re committing some kind of enormous sin by him owning up to his parental duties.
Here’s something I learned in my brief sojourn of being a stay at home mum – it sucks. I hated it. Granted, a lot of that was residual illnesses from her birth but I really resented the implication that now I had to stay home and be a little homemaker. It wasn’t for me. I am an independent woman who resented being financially reliant on my husband. I realise that marriages are about supporting each other and the like, but I despised having to ask for money. I could have easily just taken it, it was in a joint account but I never felt right just dipping my paws into it, even if it was for things like nappies and food. Everything a stay at home mother is supposed to do, I hated. It’s not in my nature. I live to work and be busy. So I went back to work and continued with my studies.
I can do this because I have a husband who’s willing to support me and because I am disciplined enough (unless there’s a particularly good episode of TV on) to just STFU and do it. There’s no big secret to managing it, you just do it. It gets tough sometimes, I won’t lie, but I go to my MMA training, punch my instructors in the face, kick them in the nuts and come home and keep going. It saves all sorts of dramas beating up people who are happy to get smacked around. Then on Sundays my in-laws take her for a few hours so I can play Guild Wars 2 and then I feel like I’ve managed to acheive everything I need for the week – spend time with child – done; cook food for family – done; work – done; five subjects of uni, one done each night after my daughter is in bed – done; sports training – done Mondays and Wednesdays after child is in bed and early in the morning before she wakes up; quality mummy time – done Sunday afternoons and during sports training.
I’ve got it all.