By the time you have to put the kids to sleep, you are desperate to go to bed yourself, but you don't because that is the only time you have "free." That is the time to get the house into some sort of livable space, maybe add some clean clothes to the pile of clean clothes that need to be folded. It is the time to scroll on your phone, to watch that episode on TV, to promise yourself that you will pick up the book tomorrow if you are not as tired. That you will have the call with your best friend tomorrow if you are not as tired. That you will have sex tomorrow. That you will journal tomorrow. That you will maybe squeeze in a walk or join the gym, tomorrow, or maybe next week, or next month, or when you are not so damn tired.
I remember my days of maternity leave, and they weren't all bad. I treasure lots of moments, but they were so hard. They were repetitive, and there was an underlying feeling of being bored, tired, and the guilt of knowing that I wasn't giving my kids the "early years stimulation" that I imagined I would. That I imagine I should.
How much can a person sing and let kids make noises with handmade maracas without losing their minds? How many books, walks, healthy snacks, tummy time, baby yoga, and all the other things that we impose on ourselves as the bare minimum you need to do to fill a whole working day?
I became more of a feminist during both of my maternity leaves. I became more of a feminist when I started inquiring about childcare and realised that not only were they oversubscribed and you were lucky to get a place, but also that I needed to earn 30k a year to break even if I had to bring 2 children full time.
I came back part-time with Eric after 9 months and got pregnant very soon after with Nora. And decisions had to be made. The times of having 2 kids under 2, or 3 with my family living in Spain were brutal. The feeling that both of them needed 200% of me was draining. And although I laugh and smile nonstop when I see the videos that capture the beauty and joy that existed in the chaos, it makes me more of a feminist to think how much we are failing women (mostly) and how much we are willing to risk their sanity by throwing them into that chaos with plenty of compliments but not actual help.
Not only do we want to have children, but society also needs us to have children. We can no longer be persuaded with the lies that being mothers and wives are our whole identity and desire. We know better. We have listened to our friends share their stories. We follow real mothers on social media telling us the truth. We see our sisters exhausted, cousins making wine jokes, marriages stretched... and we know that we need solutions.
The time that we are too tired surviving, we are not advancing in our careers and accessing more power. The energy that we dedicate to making numbers and calculating how many days is the maximum number of days that we can afford to send kids to childcare, we are not using for resting, connecting, and growing. The resources that we pour into those first years, we are not using to demand better and challenge the status quo.
And we will do it nevertheless with our slings and prams, asking for help from grandparents, and ordering takeaway again unable to face a decision on what to cook tonight. We will make a revolution by regrouping, complaining, voting better, being angry and utilising our frustration, by learning in blog posts or social media bite-size tools about feminism and our rights. And we will start by demanding accesible and quality childcare because, let's be honest, how much faster would this feminist revolution be if we had fucking childcare?