About a week ago I mentioned a revelation that I had about mothering. I am pretty sure that I had just tripped over the vacuum cleaner cord as I was hurrying to the bathroom because one of the kids was calling out that there was no toilet paper. JW uses a lot of toilet paper... we're working on it. I had been tidying up the lunch things as quickly as I could before Sweetie woke up from his nap and trying to think of a suggestion for G when she (inevitably) declared that she didn't know what to do. I was feeling very flustered because I had a lot of stuff to do and a lot of renovation materials to find a place for when all of sudden it hit me. These little spot fires that I am always putting out with the kids; keeping the colourers well supplied with paper and pencils, keeping Sweetie well fed and entertained, keeping G in reading materials and having the head space to enjoy our chats, making time to enjoy the walks to the park, the swimming at Oma's pool and reading stories, is actually the 'job'. All the other stuff like cleaning and cooking and laundry is stuff that needs to get done but it isn't what I am staying home for. The stuff that I am staying at home for is all those little things that I can't schedule but just need to be around for. Playing fine leg at cricket is probably pretty similar, you've got to do a lot of standing around waiting for the moment that the ball comes your way but if you are also trying to be the greenkeeper you'll never be there when they need you.
The lack of schedule is one of the hardest things about being a stay at home mum and I think it's pretty common for women to struggle with it when they first go on maternity leave. You know those mums who go to two playgroups, gymbaroo, music classes and swimming every week? I think they're nervous about just being at home and seeing what develops. Just 'being' isn't that easy but it's a skill you can learn. I used to be really good at it. Some of my favourite memories with the kids have come about because we had time to spend hours creating a fairy hollow at the bottom of the garden or make roads all through the house using masking tape.
Over the years I have been more aware of this aspect and have found it easier to sit with but I am very glad to have rediscovered it and am looking forward to making it in important part of 2012.