We feel like a real mother
No one enters the field of medicine hoping not to encounter a sick patient. Never has a person joined the police force with the mind-set - if any pesky criminals turn up that would be utterly inconvenient. When you take on a role you're in it for the tough stuff; so bad days are the only days we truly feel like a mother. The rest of the time there's the niggling, insistent feeling that we're only really pretending. That someone more qualified than us could do this, someone with more interest in the subtle nuances of Peppa Pig. On the bad days we feel like we're where we're supposed to be; secure in the knowledge that we're the only one that can deal with the calamity caused by a broken biscuit. Those evil hours give us the chance to do mothering the verb and not just be passive, nouny old Mum.
We feel like we're working
The bad days are the days that make us feel like we're really grafting and we stay at home parents rely on them to stave away the guilt. The work ethic instilled (or perhaps installed) in us by our own parents means that simply hanging around with the child that you chose to bring into your life, does not constitute work. There's a lot of talk about the fact that staying at home with your child is not a job. This talk is mainly within the conflicted minds of stay at home parents themselves. Work is usually something someone else forces on you - a boss, a family, society. To feel like you're doing a job you have to feel slightly resentful. The bad days bring in the resentment by the bucket load! Not only that, they go so much faster. We're ducking and diving, fire-fighting and strategising; you can spend the day negotiating like a rogue CIA agent. At the end of a busy day we feel the luxurious satisfaction of an honest day's work.
We can feel sorry for ourselves
Parents want recognition. Everyone wants recognition. We're social animals and to be social, you need to be seen. You know how most humans are recognised for their work - cash money. Stay at home parents get paid in snot and in case you weren't aware the exchange rate is really bad right now. People don't want to hear, 'My kid played quietly with his train set and we had a nice cuddle and ate some cake.' There's no drama, no story. Explosive diarrhoea, that's a story; off the scale meltdown in Tesco car park, now they're listening.
Parents want recognition, no we want sympathy, because we see it. We see the flicker in the listener's eyes when we tell them we're at home with our children. We see, even through the careful smile and the kind words, that this person thinks that all we do is watch Judge Judy and eat bon bons. And that hurts! We've had the bad days and those bad days were really bad and when we see that look in their eyes we cling to those days like a certificate of authenticity, because sometimes we do watch JudgeJudy and sometimes we do eat bon bons and we need the bad days to make us feel like that's okay. Otherwise there's too much guilt - by the time your kid is two you should get a masters in guilt. There's the bon bon eating guilt but then all the others as well. Am I doing too little round the house? Am I doing enough with the children? It gets so much that we have a hard time doing things for ourselves. The bad days stop all the questions. We are hard done by. We should reward ourselves. That glass of wine, the kid's Easter egg, the bad days give us the green light to go for it.
We can separate the good from the bad
That crazy, hazy, I can't get enough of you feeling fades. It has to, you don't want to be rocking up to Max's first day in accounts and trying to breastfeed him. Like anything once you've got used to being a parent it is can get a bit, well, samey. The bad days help us to appreciate the mundane and the simple. The half nibbled ham sandwich and the tininess of tiny socks. The comparison helps us to hold on to those magic moments. The bad days may be bad but they make the good days even better.