The first question people ask me nowadays is "So how's being a stay at home mum?"
My usual response is "I'm loving it!" and that normally ends the conversation. I suspect people ask out of politeness, not dissimilar to asking "How was your day?" without actually wanting to know the going-ons of your day. After all, nobody really wants to know whether your potty training has been successful or whether your baby has graduated to 3 naps a day.
But I often wonder as an afterthought, did the question mean "Do you like being a stay-home mum?" or did it mean "What do you do as a stay-home mum?"
Do I like being a stay-home mum? Yes. What do I do as a stay-home mum? Look after my kids, duh. But things are more complex than that. This is what I do that makes looking after my kids enjoyable:
I know there are parents who don't know how to play with their children, besides giving them a toy and asking them to play with it. But I like to think I'm young at heart, and playing with E1 is pretty fun, especially now that he's getting better with his fine motor skills. We play with blocks or as the nephew calls it, "blocking", catching, hide and seek, jigsaw puzzles or when we have time, at the playground. There's nothing more magical and infectious than the hearty guffaws of a child. Unless it is a disembodied sound in a creepy abandoned building.
I teach E1 pretty much anything, as long as his attention is still with me. The alphabet, numbers, singing, writing, how to play catch (he sucks). I even taught him how to say oh shit oh shit oh shit. Unintentional of course. That just goes to show how easily kids learn from their environment and how important you are as a model. SIL and I once encountered a nearly overbearing mother who told us that she sends her child to playgroup because he loves to sing and dance. Oh really? And you can't do that at home? Ok fine I know I shouldn't judge, but the way she put it was just absurd. And I do know there are noseyparkers who criticise mums who don't send their precious little ones to school once they turn 18 months. Well, my 2-yr old can recognise c-a-t and d-o-g and count to 100. Talk to the hand, bitch.
3. Not stressing about every single thing
When I went back to work after having E1, I was really stressing my poor mother (and myself) out about whether E1 was on schedule with his feeds and naps and whether she was being consistent with the way I did things. Not that I like micromanaging, but E1 really craved consistency and was prone to being overtired, which meant that if the schedule was screwed up, so was he. And guess who had to put the shit back together at night or on the weekends? Now that I'm home and don't have to worry about waking up at 6.30am, things are more relaxed because I'm in control of the schedules.
With E1, I was fully breastfeeding right up till the week before I went back to work. After that I tried expressing during lunch break but it was tedious and rushed so I gave up after a month back at work. Now I don't have to worry about pumping and freezing and sterilising stuff because E2 gets his milk fresh from the dairy. A few people have asked whether I intend to switch to formula. I don't know, formula is friggin hell expensive so I guess I'll keep going for as long as I can.
5. Just being there for the kids
As with anything else, parenting has its ups and downs. But there is nothing like your child giving you a big hug and kiss when they wake up, or running to you when they've fallen down. I was sad to say that once I went back to work, I was no longer E1's favourite playmate or comforter. He takes after me - our love language is touch. And even though I have to divide my attention between the two of them now, it's nice to feel wanted.
GY has asked if I felt losing my income was worth staying home to take care of the kids. How do you even begin to justify that? Experiencing every milestone and being part of their childhood - that's priceless. There are things in life that you can't pause, rewind, play and this is one of them.
So yes, it's totally worth it
(and thank you for giving me that choice).