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'Parenting is a job. A hard f***ing job. This is what happened when I quit.'

“Mum. Mummy? MUM! Muuuuuuuummmmmm!”

Kids are creative. They can say this one word a thousand different ways in one day. My four-year-old asked me not long ago, “What’s your name?”

I laughed, amused and a little puzzled.

“It’s Katie,” I said. “You know that!”

Things mums NEVER say. Post continues below.

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“Oh yeah, ” he giggled.

Wow, did he forget my name? I can’t really blame him. We always play the silly game where he says, “Mum,” and I say, “That’s my name, don’t wear it out!”

But it was worn out. I was worn out.

My husband came home the other night and greeted everyone. Lastly, he came to me and said, “And how are you doing mum?”

I handed him the baby and announced, “I’m having a shower.”

In the bathroom, I stared at myself in the mirror. “Katie,” I said. “Katie, Katie, Katie.”

I called a friend and stayed silent for a minute until she said, “Katie, Kate? You there?”

Yes, I thought, relieved. I am still here.

It’s just that being a mum is all the things. You have to be all the things. You are the fixer of the problems, the chef, the teacher, the judge, the jury, the finder of all things lost.

And you are supposed to do all these things at the highest level. Because you are raising a human being.

And then, of course, you have to make sure you are still filling your own cup, putting on your own oxygen mask first; a happy mum makes for happy kids etc.

Except sometimes not forgetting yourself really just feels like another thing on the To-Do list.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mum. I have four children that I adore.

A pregnant friend once asked me what it was like to be a mum. I chose my words carefully, trying not to terrify her.

“It’s just a lot of moments really. And those moments weigh differently. To be honest, there are more bad moments than good.

“All day you have shit thrown at you. Sometimes literal shit. At some point, you will have shit on you. But then you have a bigger, heavier moment. Like a first laugh. Or a whispered, ‘I love you mum’ in the dark. Or the feel of little arms around your neck.

“Or the eyes that look at you in such a big way, because you are the whole entire world. And these moments are far bigger and weigh far more than the others.”

But parenting is a job. A hard f*cking job. So one day I decided to quit.

I’m not sure which moment led to the decision. It could have been when my seven-year-old started crying because I cut her orange wrong. Or when my eight-year-old slammed the door and screamed that she hated me.

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“I quit,” I muttered quietly under my breath.

I went into my room and sat on my bed to try and understand what this meant. I had quit the job that you can’t quit.

I didn’t want to leave. I mean, the little co-workers I created were exhausting me. But I would miss them too much.

I just was done with parenting. I was done just being mum.

I looked in the mirror and I asked myself, “Who were you before they named you mum? I don’t know.” Ok too hard. Too much.

“What did you like to do?”

I liked to paint. I remember that. I was an artist. I would write and I would paint.

So I went out and I dug out some old art supplies and I set them up. “Oh are we doing craft mum?” my daughter asked. “No, I am,” I said.

She looked confused. Then she asked if she could have an icy pole. “Sure,” I said. She looked at me as if I had grown another head.

Listen to This Glorious Mess, Mamamia’s twice-weekly parenting podcast. In this episode, Holly and Andrew discuss when kids become tweens. Post continues.

“But it’s 9.30 in the morning? And you say I can’t have one until I finish school. And it’s a sometimes food.”

“Hmm what? You can have one if you want.” I was already distracted and absorbed in the brilliant yellow that was on the canvas.

“I’m bored, I want to go outside, but it’s raining,” my seven-year-old whined.

“Maybe go and jump on the couch for a while,” I said.

“But we aren’t allowed to jump on furniture?” she said warily, sensing a trap.

“Today you are!” I said.

“Woohoo mum’s gone nuts!” They cheered. I laughed.

My husband came home. The house was a wreck. He said to me, “Did you know that our son is running around in the mud naked?”

“Yep,” I said. “He didn’t want to wear clothes so I thought, less washing for me!”

“Ok… ” he looked around at the chaos that was our home. “Katie, what have you been up to today?”

“I painted,” I said grinning like a maniac. “All day I painted.”

“Ok,” he said. “Ok.”

“What’s for dinner mum?”

I threw some fish fingers and chips in the oven. My four-year-old looked up at me, excited but confused. “But you say we have to eat the rainbow? Where’s all the colour?”

“It’s a golden rainbow,” I said. “Enjoy.”

I went to bed feeling more me than I had in years. I knew it wasn’t sustainable. I knew my kids would need to wear clothes and eat vegetables again. But sometimes I would throw in a day of crap parenting.

I would recommend it to everyone. Just quit for a day.

Because as much as we are lucky and as much as it’s a privilege and a gift, it’s important to remember – your name is not mum.

Feature image: Getty. The feature image used is a stock image.

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