Saturday, 30 June 2012

A (Bit of a) Day in the Life of the Mum

A couple of weeks ago while netbooking busily in my home- café, I met a mum with a baby who grumbled to me that her partner had suggested she was just slobbing about the house all day while he worked hard at that manly kind of bringing home the bacon stuff.  In fact, I can't quite believe this, but he might even have said it while she was obliged to sit on the sofa breast-feeding.  

The Good Fella would of course never risk being slung out in the street with his widescreen tv (and without a cooked breakfast) to hang out mournfully in bars with his bloke-y mates by saying anything of this kind. Although recently, while I was recuperating from a viral infection and temporary loss of immummity, he did comment in a surprised way on how difficult it is to manage the household finances, as if he might secretly have been thinking I am an extravagant mum who pops down the bookies and chucks all his hard-earned bacon at the horses.
This poor mum is not the only one who has made remarks to me that suggest she feels guilty at snatching a brief respite over coffee from her hectic life.  What annoys me isn't that working men make these remarks, they probably haven't been properly brought up in the 'clog school' like the Good Fella, whose mum would heft a well-aimed Scholl quickly across at either him or the dog if not treated with sufficient respect.  And even I have sometimes felt like I have an easy time of it, floating about the house in my pyjamas all morning wafting a duster at delicate china ornaments if I can be bothered.  (As if!!!)  
But what's a day in the life of the average mum actually like?  Well this is mine.  
6.10 - tell Piglet to go back to bed until 7 am at least or she will be too tired to enjoy school/ swimming/ a film later.  
6.30 - sneak downstairs in attempt to get peaceful cup of tea before day begins.  Tell Piglet even more assertively to go back to bed.  
7.00 - allow Piglet to get up and listen vaguely to noise of early morning children's tv.  
7.30 - get up, put breakfast on to cook.  
- Tell Piglet to get dressed.  
- Go out and hang out between 1 and 4 loads of washing done night before.  Attempt to do this in a Zen way as I blithely instruct others to do.  
Packed lunch as made by
over-achieving high femme Mum
- Make packed lunches for Good Fella and/or Piglet, including sandwiches or sushi, fruit, pasta salad, a small chocolate biscuit-y snack for Piglet.  
- Listen out for shower and when it comes on, tell Piglet not to put the tap on.  
- Serve breakfast and admonish Piglet to eat up or there will be no time for violin practice.  
8.00 - Do Piglet's hair.  
- tell Piglet to go upstairs:  Go to toilet;  Wash hands;  Brush teeth;  Wash face.  
- Tell Piglet to go upstairs:  Go to toilet; Wash hands;  Brush teeth;  Wash face.  
- Scream at Piglet to:  Go to toilet;  Wash hands;  Brush teeth;  Wash face.  
- Put plates in dishwasher.  
- While Piglet and Good Fella relax over violin practice, rush upstairs and wash, get dressed.
- Rush downstairs to pack own bag, cursing if it is a day in the office for me and I have forgotten to make my own sandwiches. If there is time do some of the breakfast washing up.
- Tell Piglet to look at the list and put whatever is required for that day in her school bag.
- Tell Piglet to put socks and shoes on.
- Tell Good Fella to remember his sandwiches.
- Ask if Piglet is sure she has got everything she needs in her school bag?
- Say, What about your bottle of water then?
- Say, No it is too late to get your scooter out.
- Say, I told her it was too late to get her scooter out.
- Set off for school with Good Fella strolling along and Piglet scooting ahead.
9.00 - Arrive back home or in home-café, and sit down for rest, wondering how I can feel so tired when it is only 9 am.
Sometimes I feel like this:

But sometimes there are days when I am fed up with the struggle to get my academic work recognised and I think F*£k it! The Good Fella says he will walk Piglet to school and I go around in my pyjamas, listening to the rain falling softly in the garden, playing some Fauré or Madness on Youtube or Spotify and slowly and lovingly cleaning the floor. Occasionally I have to stop and sit down to listen to the Pie Jesu or Agnus Dei, perhaps. Maybe I even have time to give the cupboards a wipe and get the Star Blood off them which Piglet and some visiting piglets made out of water and paint. I might even do some ironing if there hasn't been football on for a while or the Good Fella's national or club side have performed badly, leading him to say, It's just a game, I don't care about it any more and not listen to it on the radio on Saturday afternoons while doing a load of ironing. I don't manage to do everything I wanted but when the Good Fella comes home he still says, Oh what a good job you have done the house looks so nice, and I bat my eyelashes and snigger and say, Shut up, you sexist pig, where's the bacon, where are my roses and chocolates? and go back to analysing gender as performative in the heterosexual matrix in a more relaxed frame of mind. 

Housework too can be a means to meditatively seek balance and order in a chaotic world of work and play;  a realm in which we can gently re-arrange elements so as to give ourselves some sense of being at one in the universe.  


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Anonymous Antonio
      just to say, I deleted your comment because it was about something else, not this blog post, and I have emailed you.

  2. Hey Anita. I won't bore you with my average day, but apparently ( and I am still steaming! ) now that I'm 'off' skewl for the summer, apparently I need to be doing ALL the early mornings and nights with my adorable but insomniac 2 year old Aggie. Apparently what with him working for pay I do f*** all apparently. GRRRRR thanks for the vent ;)Oh and Btw, I notice a bit of the devaluation yourself career wise. You most certainly do, in my eyes anyway have a particularly valuable career. It might not be one that will give you high recognition in one sense. But personally speaking what teachers like you provide for students from often tricky circumstances using your education and training to guide you sounds like a particularly 'money where your mouth is career' and one you should be really really proud to do. The OU is a fantastic organisation. Education really can set you free.

    1. Hey MonkeyBitch - what an awesome achievement, getting such a good grade in your exam. Believe me, seeing my students do this well is so valuable an experience to me that I can barely speak for pride in them. Unfortunately the great good government isn't quite as appreciative of the importance of high quality Higher Education but that's another blog post.
      I think housework is also important and valuable work. It's hard to hang on to this in a world where it's even more devalued than academic lecturing and so I'm attempting to figure out here ways we can get a better idea of how and why it's valuable to clean our own houses. It's particularly hard to hold onto the pleasures of being with small children and doing some things around the house when someone-else is saying they need to go out and earn important money and we need to firstly try to get domestic labour better recognition as labour and secondly, to get (mostly) men to realise that if they don't do some of it, they're not living in a holistic way that gives them balance in life.
      I'm so enjoying being with my Piglet this summer - but she has just gone off to stay with rellies in Scotland for a couple of days and oh! the relief of not having to be responsible for her 24/7, to be able to get on with some work-y writing and some leisurely writing undistracted!