I’ll just come out and say it: I’ve reached a somewhat startling, humbling conclusion – although the mums out there may not find it startling at all. It’s that we men, for all the flurry of seemingly important things we do, may really be only here to support our women in what they need to accomplish. That may be our entire purpose. Call it my private Copernican revolution – the discovery once again that everything does not orbit around me.
This is never more true than when women become mothers. Just nod your head with me: it’s the world’s toughest job. Certainly challenging, fulfilling (and so is fatherhood) but it’s undeniably tough going at times.
Here are the words of my better half when I told her I was writing about motherhood this week: “In what other job do you have to painfully push out an eight-pound being out of your nether regions – and get cut and stitched as you do – and then, just when you’d think you’d be able to rest and recover from such an ordeal, you have to endure a newborn trying to feed by chomping down on a part of your body that is not ready for such abuse!”
And that’s just at the beginning of motherhood, when the childcare can consume close to 18 hours a day. My own fantastic mother could have directed a business with all the activity she coordinated in our large family over the years – when we were grown she went on to manage the entire health programme at a school for disabled children. Mums are amazing.
Moneywise, we know anecdotally that mums typically manage the family budget at home, so it falls to them to make many of the everyday decisions that will mean the difference between getting ahead or not.
In a particularly frustrating and exasperating moment, I got told off a couple of months ago for making this blog so light and positive – “Why don’t you just come out and say how hard it really is to save?” she admonished. I’ll still keep things upbeat, but she’s so right – it is truly impossible at times to even think about saving with all the bills that roll in for a family – even if you have a double income.
It takes some savvy manoeuvring. “It’s like walking a financial tightrope around here,” I remember another mum telling me.
Which is why we’ve got Sorted. The tools and information here have been created with mums in mind as they navigate the many financial decisions at home. Our budgeting tool and mortgage calculator top the list, and of course there are the many in-depth guides if you’re looking to unpack the details on how things work.
One main pressure of motherhood is figuring out what to do with the children day in and day out. In our family, my better half was quick to understand that we don’t need to be spending money to entertain the kids all the time.
New studies show that when the kids whinge about how bored they are, the best response isn’t to invent something for them, but rather encourage them to invent it themselves. True, left to their own devices they’ll likely head straight for the screens around the house, but many times they can be re-routed to more creative endeavours instead.
“You don’t always need to buy things for them, either,” one of my wife’s friends explained to me. “With the little ones, a Sprite bottle and a bit of glitter may be all you need.” And this mother of four has been through two separate waves of motherhood, with two teenage daughters in the first round and now a six and eight year old in the second wave. She knows her stuff.
There’s a fair bit of keeping up with the Joneses out there in motherland, although often I’ve discovered it’s often more about keeping up with our own high standards and how we would like things to be. Time and time again this makes us shell out more money than we’d planned.
The kids can end up being extensions of ourselves, and we want them to dress a certain way, live a certain way and even be a certain way. That’s not easy to let go of, but it’s par for the course for mothers and part of the key decisions they make every day.
“You’ll be a mother all your life,” my wife’s mother told her when our eldest daughter was born. If there wasn’t so much joy involved at the time, I would have said that sounded like an immense undertaking. Which of course, it is.
So here’s to all the mums out there. Enjoy Mother’s Day! I’d say you all deserve a Mother’s Week at least.