Here is one of my favourite poems by Dorothy Parker:
By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
The reason this came to mind today was not that I have shivering or indeed sighing in some lothario’s arms. No, I have been being a full-time mother. And after just half a day it strikes me that one lie we all live with is that looking after a home and children is a doddle compared with working all day.
This is the typical scene. Man gets up to go to work. Woman makes his breakfast, feeds and dresses the children, he dresses himself (in shirts she has ironed), goes off to the office where he may have some stressful moments and he may not. Then he comes home to a home-cooked dinner, kisses the children goodnight and watches the football until turning in.
What you can be sure of if you’re looking after children all day is that you WILL have stressful moments (as well as some fun ones of course). I have just managed to escape for five minutes to my desk and it feels like a haven. Upstairs anything could be demanded of me from wiping bottoms to acting as peace envoy to avoid any (more) blood spilling.
When we were at my mother’s house in Devon I took on the role normally allocated to men, that of main bread-winner and worker. I worked while she looked after the children. She washed and ironed. I shopped and paid for it. She took the children to the park, I wrote a few emails. There is no doubt at all that of the two I had the easier job. In fact I can’t think of a job that would be tougher than looking after children, except perhaps mining or long-distance lorry driving across Siberia.
So if your husband comes home today and grumbles that he’s had a tough time in the office here’s what you should do. Hand him the kids and say ‘welcome to my world honey’. Then go and lie down for half an hour, you deserve it.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007