I think I do appreciate, to some extent, the frustrations of the Stay-At-Home-Mums out there. Having been lucky enough to have two year-long maternity leaves in recent years I know that sometimes life with small children can be exhausting, stressful and - dare I say it? - lonely. I've even found myself hankering after a bit of adult time in the form of work. The grass is always greener, don't they say?
But, there is one phrase that really gets to me, and that's 'Full Time Mum'. I've really been struggling recently - I've been back at work a few months, I've been working hard - really hard. But in the background, I'm always mum. I get up (usually around 5am thanks to a certain little one), get the boys dressed and breakfasted - get myself dressed and breakfasted (this is usually more of a challenge) and get us out of the door - hopefully having had time to do a quick wipe round of the kitchen (the sight of hardened shreddies to be scraped off the floor after a long day at work is never a welcome one).
I get to work and it's time to focus on everyone else's children - and I do. But I'm Mum now - you just can't stop yourself thinking of your own little ones. In some ways I'd love to be back to my old 'work from7 til 7' days - time to plan lessons with my colleagues, discuss how things are going and - most importantly, speak to another adult at some point in the day. But I don't have this luxury. I've become much more time-efficient - every spare minute is used marking and planning. The boys are with the childminder 8-5 and any work that has to be done in school must be done within those hours. I might feel like a flake when I have to leave meetings at 4.45 on the dot, but I'm Mum now, I'm not the master of my own time.
When I pick up the boys, they're exhausted. All Archie wants is milkas and a cuddle and Harry wants to veg on the sofa and tell me about his day. But I'm Mum now, I need to do those things AND get dinner in the oven. This is my 'witching hour' - Daddy gets home between 6 and 6.30 so with a heavy 14 month old on my hip I get going, feeling stiff and uncomfortable in the work clothes I haven't had a chance to change out of yet.
Daddy gets home - hopefully to dinner on the table - and we eat. Sometimes it's lovely and we talk to Harry about his day, sometimes it's stressful as the boys don't want to eat what's in front of them. It's ALWAYS messy! After the dinner is 'me' time for half an hour as Daddy takes the boys to play and I clean the kitchen. Who'd have thought I'd find a shiny sink so rewarding! Then of course comes bath time, books and bedtime. I'm so lucky to have Daddy there to double team, but it's often close to 9pm before we collapse on the sofa. This is my time to catch up on any marking or planning I haven't completed during my precious minutes at school, but it's not like the old days when I would be coming to it fresh - by now I'm exhausted and it's not easy.
Being a working mum is a struggle. Scratch that - being a mum is a struggle. You never quite feel like you are doing enough, and now I'm back to work, I never feel quite enough there either. Don't even ask about keeping up with blogging! But these days I'm trying to remember - being good enough is good enough - and I AM a full time mum (even when I'm working).