yummy mummy, letting things slide

Recently I scanned one of those ‘what’s hot/what’s not’ columns at the front of a lifestyle magazine. Under ‘what’s not’ I was interested to read that ‘yummy mummies’ were on their way out, because they were more prone to depression than ‘working mums who let things slide’. Oh dear, I thought. I’m a stay-at-home mum who lets things slide. Where does that leave me? My house is one dusty, crumby, snot-filled backdrop for a toy-bomb which explodes daily – and I don’t even have a paid job I can blame.

Seriously, stuff just gets deposited round my house and I know not how. I spend my days tidying and tidying, only to find that at the end of the day the house looks worse  – or, at best, the same as when we woke up. A friend recently told me how she feels most of her days are spent keeping mayhem at bay. Nothing really moves on from the start to end of the day, but nothing gets significantly worse. That’s a win.

Our bedroom, successfully illustrating my point. It’s always the last room to get attention!

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Much as I love the decision I’ve made to stay at home with my kids, it doesn’t come without sacrifice. The last thing I want to do in ten years’ time is look back and regret this period of my life. If I’m going to forego my career for a while, I don’t want to forego my children too.

And the truth is, some things have to slide. I just can’t spend proper time with the kids whilst also keeping up with all the housework. As part-and-parcel of Al’s job, we get a large house – a great perk, but totally overwhelming in terms of keeping it immaculate. There are enough times in the day when I have to say “Not now, Joel”, “In a minute…”, “I just have to do this first…” because of housework that needs to be done (preparing meals, loading/unloading dishwasher, laundry) that engaging in any additional hoovering, dusting and general cleaning would surely be at my children’s expense. Things I clean today will be dirty again tomorrow, whereas time I spend with my children today will reap huge benefits tomorrow. It is massively important to me that my children and I have a good, communicative relationship. If I don’t sow the seeds now – then when?

So, on the one hand, I’m riled by the assumption that it’s only (salaried) working mums who let things slide. But on the other hand I’m comforted by the suggestion that this more laissez-faire approach to life has its advantages. Whoever we are, mummies or not, setting overly-high expectations for ourselves is not likely to result in much peace.

Oh, and for the record – I dislike the term ‘yummy mummy’ in most contexts. If you think I spend my time shopping, lunching with friends and frequenting spas, while my husband earns mega-bucks and someone else cleans my house, then I have two words for you. Clergy wife.

The happy little monkeys. They don’t mind a bit of dirt.

lucy rycroft is ten

I love to write about marriage, family life, parenting, adoption and faith. Will you journey with me?

Last week, I turned ten. Or – more precisely – Lucy Rycroft turned ten. Lucy Baynes had existed for twenty-something years before, but on 13 July 2002 she became a Rycroft. Here’s a picture of us looking young.

The two of us getting married, 2002 - don't we look young?! (We were!)

Last Friday was a good day of celebrating. Coincidentally, we happened to be in the place where we got married, so it was nice to return to the church for a couple of pictures. The churchyard has changed lots in ten years – not least with the addition of Robin Gibb’s grave. RIP. Anyway, here’s us looking older and more haggard. I blame the kids.

Tenth wedding anniversary - looking older and more haggered...

We spent the day in parks, on bouncy castles and receiving emergency dental treatment – all the usual ways to celebrate a wedding anniversary.

In the evening we ate here. (It was alright. I mean, the food was nice and everything, but the bill was double what we’d pay at our favourite York restaurant for just-as-good grub. If having a Michelin star means you get to overcharge, then I’m not sure I want to bother. To be fair, our only other Michelin experience has been L’Enclume, regularly regarded by the critics as one of the top restaurants in the country, so I guess we’ve only got ourselves to blame.)

Oops – please excuse the foodie aside – got a bit carried away. The evening was, of course, lovely, regardless of my opinions of the restaurant. As any parent will understand, time out for just you and your spouse is a rare and wonderful thing.

And, as anyone who knows my spouse will understand, the opportunity to have three courses and an alcoholic beverage without being berated for the cost of it all – well, that’s another rare thing.

At this point, I feel I should make some deep, reflective and mind-staggeringly original comment about marriage – what I’ve learnt, how it’s been, blah-di-blah. But if I’m honest, I feel a bit of a fraud.

DesertDad and I have bumbled along quite happily for a while, and now suddenly we’ve been married for a length of time which sounds impressive. Many marriages are tested by external factors which are no fault of the husband or wife, but add strain to the relationship: perhaps a bereavement, job loss or child-related issue. We’ve had none of these to contend with – in fact, I feel so blessed by the last ten years that I sometimes wonder when the bubble’s going to burst.

The next decade may prove more difficult than the first. If it does, I pray that we’ve built up the resources to deal with it. But right now – for I believe in living in the moment – I’m going to be very, very thankful for an amazing husband, and a marriage that has released me more and more into becoming the person God made me to be. I offer no wise reflection, for I still feel like a novice.

But perhaps that’s the point?

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