Mnemonics

One day my daughter came back from school very happy – she had finally managed to memorise the order of the planet system. It goes like Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. I still can’t quite remember the order but that’s not important. What’s important is that someone had come up with such an amusing mnemonic that the whole class happily repeated it every morning.

MY VERY EDUCATED MOTHER JUST SERVED US NOODLES.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles, happily chanted my 6 year old daughter. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas, sang the other.

In the country which prides itself on an exemplary gender-equal society my children are daily schooled with an already well established stereotype that once women become mothers they get confined to the kitchen. 

When so many women worldwide struggle to pursue their careers and instead end up cooking away for their husbands and families shouldn’t we be worried about how this might become a normal visual image for our kids?! Why can’t we use something less stereotypical, more interesting and exciting to describe what mothers can do? e.g. My Very Energetic Mother Just Sat Upon (the) North Pole, My Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets. Or should women just stay home and serve noodles?!

Why we need to feel guilty in order to feel happy

I don’t cook, I don’t iron, I don’t clean, I don’t wash, I don’t scrub, I don’t sew, I don’t change sheets, I don’t do washing up, I don’t babysit. And that’s because I am on maternity leave. I look after my baby and I feel extremely guilty about it.

When I had my first child I had no idea what maternity leave really meant. I didn’t know that I couldn’t get any sleep after a sleepless night, because there was no one else to look after my baby. I didn’t know that after I’d spent an hour cooking the most organically delicious made-from-the-scratch meal, it would end up on the floor and my child would be wailing from hunger. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to look at my iPhone whilst walking and (I admit) pushing a stroller with a baby inside on the street  because I would be intimidated by disapproving looks; I didn’t know I would never again have a cheeky relaxed boozy lunch with a friend on a Friday. I didn’t know that for hours I’d need to pretend I was twice of my size and sit at a child’s table and sip an empty tiny cup of tea! that I would need to clean, wash, tidy, sweep, scrub (and whatever other verbs there are) not just my baby but the whole two floors of our flat. The added challenge was to be as quiet as not to wake up a strugglingly fallen asleep child, and to do it during the precious 2 hours I got to myself when the baby was asleep.

I wish I had read Esther Walker‘s Bad Mother, or Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn A $115,000 Salary so that I’d felt more confident saying no to the things that left me exhausted, tired and with a feeling of never wanting to have a baby again.

It took years to figure out that I actually earned a lot as a stay at home mum. And a lot more than what I got paid at my job.

I added the cost of ironing,  washing and tiding, cooking and babysitting and decided to “slash” some of the costs and outsource the other duties. As no one actually paid me £100K a year it was rather easy to do.

I hired an au pair who cooked for the baby and us, I hired a cleaner to scrub our very precious wooden floors, I took sheets and shirts to a laundrette, I signed up for Monkey Music Classes and a local singing group (they do the same but the difference in price is £130).  And I still “virtually” earned for looking after my baby, reading and playing with her, picking up my other child from school, helping her with homework and taking them to bed. But the difference is that now I can enjoy it all and also allow myself to have an odd boozy lunch, shop for myself, and carve out some time to write blogs.

The only disadvantage is the constant felling of guilt! But I hear that comes with motherhood.