Have kids they said. It’ll be your greatest accomplishment they said. And they were right.
I’m a stay-at-home mum, raising two little people and it is the most rewarding, frustrating, satisfying, fear -inducing job in the entire world. And job it is. A full time, paid with gap-toothed smiles and leave-a-hand-print-on-your-new-shirt hugs. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I always knew that once I had kids I wanted to be a stay-at-home mum. I didn’t want to miss a moment; first laugh, first sneeze, weaning, crawling, walking and watching them learn and grow was everything to me. But as joyful as it is to watch their personalities develop, it's also a sometimes lonely experience. Yes my husband is around after work and on his day off but essentially, every day, it's just the girls and I and let’s just say conversations were pretty one-sided until my toddler learned to say, "No Mummy". Then there was a little more back and forth.
I don’t think anyone can fully understand what being a stay-at-home mum really means unless they are one themselves. You find yourself going from being the office queen to becoming a minion to a bunch of diaper wearing tyrants.
I’m sure there are those who assume that stay-at-home mums have got it easy, that we get to wake up whenever we want, lounge around in our PJs all day and watch TV while playing with the kids. Ummmm no. The reality is the complete opposite. We wake up at the crack of dawn because that’s when the kids wake us up. Then the day consists of convincing your toddler to use the toilet, making breakfast, sometimes twice because Toddler Queen vetoed the first one, feeding baby, changing diapers, entertaining the kids, making sure they don’t hurt each other, snacks (preferably healthy ones – hello Pinterest), more diaper changes and arguing about the potty, fighting about nap time….. and once they’re napping, you finally get to eat something, clean up the mess, do the dishes then the laundry, put away yesterday’s laundry, figure out what to make for dinner….. It’s definitely not glamorous, that’s for sure.
It is both emotionally and physically exhausting. By the end of the day you’re completely drained of energy, you’ve been brainwashed into believing that cereal is OK for dinner and that chocolate is a great snack because it is the only thing that will keep them quiet long enough for you to shove food into your own mouth.
Staying home with my children has forced me to reprioritize my life, it’s given me perspective and taught me that I have more patience than I could have ever believed . I’ve also learned the value of time management - if you need to leave at 11, start getting ready at 8.
I also figured out rather quickly that staying home, while yes, is comfortable and less of a hassle, it is not fair to anyone. My kids get bored and act up and I get cranky and act up. So I started taking the girls to playgroups, which gave my toddler the opportunity to run around and release all her pent-up energy and allowed me to meet other mummies and share war stories.
But even with all the fun I have with my kids, I often find myself thinking of going back to work, I actually miss meetings, deadlines and spreadsheets. I also miss conversations that have nothing to do with Itsy Bitsy Spiders and asking twinkling stars what they are.
I know that all too soon, my little babies are going to be off to school, I’ll be going back to work and I'll wish they were my little monkeys again and miss the time we spent building Lego castles that were gleefully destroyed as soon as they were built. It’s the cycle of life at its finest.
Until then, I plan on cherishing every moment, memorizing every facial expression, creating memories that will be dreamt of for years to come. As infuriating as they can sometimes be, they are my pride and joy and I wouldn’t give up a second with them for anything in the world.
Nora El-Rifai is the mum of a two-year-old and a 10-month-old. You can read more about her journey on her Instagram account, Coveredinmommyhood.
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