“Wash, rinse, repeat.” These are the words I use to sum up my life these days as a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom). They work for the obvious tasks -laundry, dishes, children, floors – but they also work for relationships, friendships, motherhood. It’s my cycle of life.
I am in my 8th year of marriage to a wonderful man who adores me and our children. He works full time and is getting his MBA. He is very helpful but he is away a bit more than we both would like. I have a kindergartener and a two year-old and I run a fairly smooth household. I say “fairly” because I do not believe anyone can run a house flawlessly with humans involved, especially with a mix of little/ big/male/female. It just gets messy.
Let me elaborate…
One of my worst days on the “job” I was, ironically, taking a day to myself (a necessity I realized early on as crucial to sanity). I had a lovely day of shopping and sushi with an old coworker while my 18-year old babysitter took care of the children. While wrapping up our lunch, I received a text from the sitter, saying she felt ill. I rushed home to find her lying on the couch while my two children napped in bed. I wrote her a check and wished her well. She informed me very nonchalantly on her way out that she had clogged the toilet.
I can handle this, I have unclogged a toilet before….right? Suddenly, from a distant bathroom, I heard a “fluuuush…..”, followed by my son’s wail: “mooom……the toilet is overflowing……!”
Noooo!! It was too late….I had Niagra-effing-Falls in my bathroom and it was flowing fast! I rushed my son out of the bathroom and ran down to the garage to get the rags for this type of situation. Upon opening the garage door, a dripping noise alerted me to the sight of water -from the “falls” -soaking our stored goods. I surrendered and started to cry….
The one thing that will make me lose it is Out-of-Control-Poop; it gets the best of me every time.
While bawling, cursing, and dialing my husband, I cleaned up our babysitter’s “mess”, infuriated that a good day could go so bad in a the blink of an eye.
In times like this, I think of the mom who wakes at the same hour everyday, gets her kids ready, and drops them off somewhere for 8-9 hours. She goes to work and uses her brain to solve big people problems, all while sipping on a latte, joking with coworkers and getting paid. I understand: it, too, is hard work. But she gets paid! Bonuses even! Ah, Wednesday morning donuts. Happy hour….how I would kill for a real Happy Hour. My “happy hour” is not the happiest. I may be imbibing, but only because my kids have had long days, are hungry, and are (I am convinced), trying to make me crazy!
My husband comes home from work sometimes, complaining about the hour of traffic he just endured. I daydream about an hour in traffic –all by myself, my own music, music that does NOT contain the lyrics “fruit salad, yummy yummy”.
But, I suppose one woman’s dream is another woman’s nightmare. I don’t have to worry about meetings, reviews, complaints from customers. Actually, I do get complaints, but my “customers” don’t have to like everything I’m selling, and (at least, for now) I am bigger and can call the shots. I guess you could say I am the CEO at this house, albeit working for free.
I know I am fortunate. These years at home with my kids will stick with them- and me -forever. The labor duties I endure now will probably be the same moments I miss when they drive off to college.
For now, all I can do is stick to my mantra: wash, rinse, repeat. It works.
You’ve heard the phrase, “behind every great man, there is a great woman.” Well, behind this full-time working woman, there is a whole team —a nanny, a nana and a husband —-and I still feel like I could use more help!
My little guy has no idea that I have to wake up at 5:30AM each morning for work. So, because he doesn’t know any better, and more so because he’s so darn cute, I allow him to use my belly as a pillow and my face as a punching bag as he dreams away about gumdrops and fluffy clouds or whatever it is that one-year olds dream about.
Let’s face it. As important as a career may be, my investment in my baby is forever. Obviously, if I had to choose between my baby or my job, my baby comes out on top (in my case, literally). But there’s this Asian guilt that gives my conscience hell when I feel like I’m underperforming at the office.
Because I have a 60-mile, one-way commute into work, my employer generously allows me to telecommute 3 days of the week. On the days I do drive in, it can take more than 2 hours to get there. By the time I reach the parking structure, I’m ready to head home. Nevertheless, I drag myself out of my car (after a discreet 30-minute nap), and log in eleven to twelve hours at the office before heading out to battle the evening traffic. Needless to say, when I get home, I am hungry, tired, crabby…and frankly, I need to be babied.
I recently met a full-time mom of three (did I mention I only have one?) who seemed ultra-content with her present situation. I looked at her enviously and thought, “she looks so happy. She doesn’t have to get up early for work. Man, she has it good.”
But I was there! I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom for 3 months (during my maternity leave) and it was brutal. Poopy diapers, colic, spit-up, acid reflux, feedings around the clock, on and on and on. There was no end in sight.
Now I’m starting to realize: mothering ain’t easy, whether you do it all day long or when you get home from work. A stay-at-home mom might crave a respite and adult interaction; whereas a full-time professional feels guilty because she’s shortchanging her baby, her employer, and even herself. Nothing seems right.
Like every other hard part of life, this has to pass. I hold out hope that someday I can leave my two bags under my eyes at home, because Lord knows I have enough bags to carry to work. Until then, I’m happy to provide my belly as a pillow for my little guy. He needs a secure resting place, and if I can’t give that to him during the day, the least I can do is provide him a soft cushion on which to lay his head every night.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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