Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mad, bad and not worth getting to know

I wrote this post on Tuesday, published it briefly and then decided against it. On the advice of fellow blogger, ex-London highlifer and stay at home mum Anna, who assures me that all I say is true, here it is again.

WARNING: There now follows a whiny, self-indulgent post.

I'm not feeling great. Maybe it's the hangover from our wonderful time in Blighty, maybe it's the hot weather which has arrived with a vengeance (I hate hot weather), maybe it's because my mini-beasts are with the grandspoilers so I have too much time to think. At the moment I wake early in the morning, when the sun rises, and I lie in bed, thinking, and thinking, and making myself sad. There is no new problem, there is no looming catastrophe, but I am still battling with feelings of worthlessness as a stay at home mum and feelings of blind panic about what to do following post-stayathomemumness.

Some brilliant things have given me RTBCs recently. Matilda is enrolled in the local école maternelle, which is handily situated at the end of the road. She's very excited. Owen has taken his first steps. He's very excited. I have another student who wants to learn to speak English like what I do. I'm... not so excited. May I make it clear once and for all, to anyone who cares, teaching English as a foreign language is not my life's passion.

With Matilda's enrolment in school have come the questions. So, you'll be going back to work then? Erm, no. Owen isn't one yet and this stay at home mumness is a two children deal. I sense, perhaps erroneously, that behind this question is a judgement. Damn well get back to work you lazy bugger. But I don't feel like a lazy bugger. I feel like I do a hell of a lot. Same as other women do, plus they work though, right? That's, again perhaps erroneously, what I sense from people here. As my belle soeur honestly pointed out, staying at home with your kids is not well viewed in France. I also often hear, Oh I couldn't do it, I'd go mad ... I need to see other adults... to get out of the house... to be stimulated. As if I'm some kind of halfwit, and so are my children, and we sit around in the house all day, one and a half wits between us, randomly throwing things at each other. We sometimes do that. But not all the time.

So I'm either mad to stay at home with my kids, or bad for avoiding the workplace, and frequently I feel that in my current state I am not worth getting to know. My world is small. And not very interesting to anyone but me. I do believe this will change but that doesn't help me shake my suspicion that my topics of conversation (bar the inevitable mini-beast related miscellany) have shrivelled up and died. When I had just one mini-beast in tow, I could do other things beside mini-beast taming. But with two, at their current ages, I consider it the height of personal achievement if I manage to make a cuppa at some point during the day.

Even blogging is starting to prove a source of discomfort. I still have the self-destructive habit of checking out other mum blogs, all about mums doing amazing and beautiful things and being amazing and beautiful people, and having hard times, but still being amazing and beautiful through the hard times. I'm not having an especially hard time, I've had to face no great trials, and I'm neither amazing nor beautiful. I'm just grumpy about life right now. Can I be allowed to be a grumpy, for what many would consider to be piffling reasons? I can't do a million different things at once, and be a beautiful and amazing mother, and an inspirational person. Some people can. And can write about it. Beautifully and amazingly. I'm jealous. And perhaps a little incredulous. I'm just grubby little me. Grubbing along, with my teeny peaks and my tiny troughs. And my two super duper mini-grubs. And my Fanf.

Things could be worse.

AFTERWORD: Anna shared with me her response whenever anyone asks her if she's going back to work: "I just turn up my nose and say I would never work for anyone else now". I like that a lot. I intend to steal it.


  1. I struggle all the time with blogs. They always make the ordinary seem amazing. Sew, bake and homeschool in one day. Sure.

    Perfection is false. Imperfection is true and that, my dear friend, is beauty.


    ok. I think I've embarrassed myself enough now.


  2. I like Anna's response too. Let's all steal it. And I'm glad she convinced you to post this - you're so speaking for all of us sister. Amen!

    Life home with smallies is so sweet at times but so tough at others; it really takes all your juice, and you don't get any of the feedback or camaraderie or shared sorrows of the workplace. With Fanf of course, but that's at the end of the day, which is not when the kids are breaking your brain. It can be very lonely, and especially so I imagine in France with all the Elizabeth Badinter thinking and sexy ladies.

    There are phases when I feel very worn down by the relentless work of stay at home mummery. Things will pick up again Bex. You're doing an amazing job with those lovely little people. A really really REALLY good job. They have many RTBC that you are their Mum.

  3. Thank you so much to both of you for saying exactly the right things xxx

  4. Having lived with your grubiness, and your grublets for a week I am amazed you have gone raving mad, or turned into a gibbering wreck. And this is not because your kids are badly behaved, on the contrary, to your very great credit, they are 2 of the best behaved children I have seen. But, anyway I digress from the point which is; after that week I was nackered and ever so slighty frazzled. Looking after children is seriously hard work, the constant need to be on your guard, it is not easy. Work is easy in comparison. The fact is I have never felt that nackered after a week of work. But whilst all get for my hard work and effort is nice (and obvioulsy helps), the day I got home from work an my neice ran out of the house with a beaming smile, was worth much more.

    Don't forget somethings are more valuable than money, and by staying at home you are getting to witness a lot of them.

    And when have you given to much time to what other people think. You know you're doing the right thing, the people that know and love you (and that includes your children) know you're doing the right thing.

    So chin up, and don't feel you have to suddenly be happier. Everyone is allowed to grumpy every now and then.

    Love you this ...............................................................................................................................................................................................much.



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