In my household, my husband and I have very traditional roles. He earns the money and handles all the bills and administrative nitty gritty, and I look after the kids and the house. He has zero designated chores. I know a lot of husbands may do things like wash the dishes, do the laundry, take out the rubbish, or bathe the kids in the evening…but I have no expectations on him to do any of that. Of course if he’s around, he will offer to help, but I don’t expect him to. I don’t mind it because it’s not like he’s being intentionally unhelpful. It’s not like he’s slunking off to his man cave when he comes home from work, trying to avoid us. He helps as much as he can when he is around and is a great dad. I know he’s doing his best, so I try to do my best.
There definitely is a lot of guilt that comes with being a stay-at-home mum. We’re not swimming in money. Right now we are just surviving on my husband’s income. We budget like mad and are constantly hunting for the best deal on everything. We don’t go to fancy restaurants and cafes. I only buy clothes or shoes when my old ones are falling apart. I can’t keep track of how many phone plans and utility companies we’ve gone through this year, constantly going for the cheaper deal and slowly whittling away at our costs.
The hardest thing has been not being able to afford to travel. Friends are constantly asking us over to visit interstate, and we’ve constantly had to say no. I feel bad because it might look like we don’t care enough to visit, especially when other double income + childless friends seem to find it so easy to travel around the country at a minute’s notice. The reality is though we just don’t have the extra cash to.
I know this stage is not forever, but at this point, it still feels like it’s crawling. I do feel guilty for saddling my husband with the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner of our family. At the same time though, I cannot imagine working a regular 9-5 job and not being there for my kids. We don’t have family here who can help look after our kids, so if I’m working, it means they are in daycare, after school care, holiday care…that’s a lot of care. I guess the only option is to work on something really flexible, but I have yet to find anything appropriate for me.
I admit when people ask what I do and I say I’m a full-time mum, I feel a touch of guilt. I know a lot of people can’t afford not to work and so I feel like I’m saying I’m a pampered princess who can afford to. Of course that’s far from the truth. The reality is we’ve just chosen to make sacrifices to live this way. I know being a mum and raising kids is like three full-time jobs in one, but somehow I’ve allowed myself to feel pressured by society’s expectations. The expectation to somehow have it all. To be an amazing mum and have a great career at the same time. To not “waste my education”.
I wonder though, if I was a full-time working mum, would I feel just as guilty about not being there for my kids? Are we all just destined to be caught up in an endless cycle of mum guilt, no matter what option we choose? Is there no way of winning?
The hard thing about this guilt is that it mostly comes from within myself. It’s not so much about other people judging me but about me judging myself. Because deep down yes of course I want to be able to help relieve my husband’s burden. Of course it would be nice to be financially independent and not have to rely on anyone else to help me. Of course it would be nice to be able to afford to travel or buy things without having to think too much about it. Of course it would be nice to be able to take on a project of my own and do something outside the home.
Earning my own money is something I want for myself too, but I guess I have to keep reminding myself it’s not exactly the right time to do it. I’m doing what I do now because I value being home with the kids. I’m sure there will still be opportunities to “do my own thing” when they’re older and more independent. I have to not be so hard on myself and to keep reminding myself that everything happens in its own time in the end.
This mum guilt thing is real, make no bones about it. Are you a stay-at-home or a working mum? Do you feel guilty too? Tell me I’m not the only one going crazy over here.
The 30-Day Personal Blog Challenge is a challenge to myself to consistently blog about my daily life for 30 days.