To all supermums out there. You are awesome!
It was past 12 am one night, that I finally sat down to catch up on some work. My mornings are really crazy sometimes, so I prefer to plan my work the night before: do all the researching, reading and sourcing for materials, all the in comfort of complete silence.
Come morning, I usually have to juggle my daily house chores, prep meals, deal with interruptions for the toddler and squeeze in some work whenever I catch a breather – such is my life as a work at home mum.
In front of me sat a big slice of rich chocolate ganache cake. Part of me is mentally counting the calories of late-night snacking, but my head is yelling that I totally deserve this.
After a long hard day of tantrums, interruptions and juggling work, house chores and revision drilling, chasing banks, school prepping and even now I’m still glancing at my mountain of a laundry that still needs folding. Constantly micromanaging and multitasking, I am bone tired and mentally drained every other night.
You have no idea how much discipline is needed to be working from home, to be mothering and to have the integrity to submit within deadlines. To find a flow of routine that may seem haphazard to people, but works, because you are actually able to cross things off the to-do-list one by one.
I remember a time, from long ago, when I didn’t understand the importance of rewarding myself. I gave and gave and gave until I was worn out.
The combination of life with two kids, the financial stress of trying to pull in as much income as possible and really just petty personality differences between the husband and I – these things took a toll. I recognised I was burnt out, but I was already stuck in a routine I couldn’t get out of – and I was drowning.
Truth #1: Your hardest parenting day will come when you least expect it.You would probably manage fine in the beginning because you start of with a full tank of “feel good”, and it won’t come during your worst times either because by then you’d be too busy trying to survive.
It would just hit you like a bang over a period of crappy days, when life cannot seem to stop regurgitating more rubbish situations for you to swim in. Then you snap and morph into this angry banshee. Trust me, everyone in the house will get it and you would feel guilty after.
This is normal, believe me. We all have our moments.
Truth #2: It’s always going to be mum.Yes, I work at home, so the kids have access to me ALL THE TIME. My toddler is crying bloody murder somewhere in the house, my preschooler is hollering for help from the loo. Even the kettle is shrieking to be taken off the stove. I feeling like I’m being pulled into all different directions at the same time.
Overtired kid? Meltdown and I try to comfort them. Petty fights? Meltdowns, while I try to play referee. Not getting something quick enough, more tears. Why is everything so urgent and all at once?! It’s like looking at a long to-do list and every single one of the chores are tasked to “mum”.
Sick kids? Mum. Pending house chores? Mum. Tie the kid’s hair? Mum. Want more water? Mum. When am I going to get the opportunity to do what I want to do? What about my work?
And then, of course, there’s the husband who needs me too.
Truth #3: You don’t own you anymore.There’s no me in this. Every day is giving into the needs and wants of my family. Friends are posting pictures of their nasi lemak breakfast and I’m at home trying not to yell at the toddler who’s spitting all her food and playing with them. Oh yes, and I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour coaxing her to eat.
I don’t remember sleeping more than 4 hours straight at night without night feed interruptions and irritating nipple twiddling.
This carries on day after day, and eventually I am a shell of who I use to be.
My ongoing Kdrama craze, that allows me short bouts of eye candy, never feels quite enough. Even my rejuvenating outings with girlfriends only last so long, and I still have to bring my youngest along. Honestly, I cannot wait for the day to go off on my own without feeling the need to rush back because I’m needed. To go for a 2 hour massage and not thinking of what I could have possibly forgotten.
Truth #4: It’s a never-ending cycle.I am never done cleaning – in fact the place stays clean for probably a total amount of 1 hour max before something is spilt, or the floor needs sweeping again and toys strewn from one end of the sitting room to the other. My laundry doesn’t reduce or fold itself. I’m running out of ideas what to cook anymore, in fact I’m so sick of my own cooking.
No matter what I cook my toddler refuses to eat more than half on really bad days. My neighbours probably recognize my voice by now – that lady who is always yelling for her kids to “stop it!” and drilling Chinese homework with her funny Chinese pronunciation.
There’s always something waiting to throw me off my routine, and instead of catching up on sleep when the kids nap in the afternoon, I’m having to make up for lost time and squeeze in some work.
I am getting minimal help with house chores, sleep deprived, is constantly needed, forever multi tasking and trying to get my head on right, for writing in between. Surely you can understand how grueling my day to day trudging is.
Truth #5: You will miss this…someday.This may all totally suck big time now, but your tiny team of hooligans at home don’t stay young forever. Someday they will grow up and you will look back and miss all this insanity.
You will wish your babies were young and small again so that you can baby them. You will miss them “needing you like they use to.” You will miss all the adorable memories you made together. And then you would think the unthinkable: you wouldn’t mind going through all that all over again.
I stare at my cake and pulled myself together.
So this is me rewarding myself: just me and my cake. This is just for me.
I watch the fork cut through those thick layers of chocolate ganache and I take a bite. I savour the good quality chocolate and relax with my little piece of heaven because tomorrow is another battle.
I don’t know how irritating and frustrating parenting is going to be tomorrow, but for now I’m going to hit pause, take a deep breath and hit repeat in the morning.
This article first appeared on TheAsianParent.com.