August 7, 2010 - 12:05pm
A mom I know turned to me a couple of years ago and asked me if I didn't being a SAHM was the best thing in the world - a complete blessing? Those magical moments of capturing your child(ren's) every moment?
I wondered if she never got bored with the most tedious and endless tasks of being a SAHM? Like when your kid has the trots and you've changed his diaper 12 times and it's only 2pm? When you have been up for 11 hours already and have just cleaned up from lunch? When your husband calls at 5pm and say he won't be home till 9pm? Does he even KNOW how much we depend on him getting home? That even an hour late can be torture?!
The arguments over what to wear every morning and the agony of walking on a Lego or a hot wheel car in bare feet? Begging for your angry two year old take a nap as he gets up for, literally, the 32nd time, despite the fact that he's exhausted - all while breastfeeding your new born?
I was a SAHM for 3 years and found it to be incredibly rewarding. In addition to that it was incredibly isolating (we live in the country and none of our neighbors on the block stay home) and tedious (my kids were 2, 1 and 3 months old and I literally went from feeding to nursing, to diapering to playing and back again with them all.day.long) and at times, it was boring as heck. I envied seeing people on my street heading to work, and they didn't seem to envy me at all! "Ugh! I couldn't do that!" some career parents would say. I knew knew what they meant but simultaneously was irritated. Why couldn't they do it? Was it too mind-numbing for them? Is that stuff only for nannies and sitters and underpaid daycare workers? Is it all beneath you? But still... I had moments when I got what they meant.
Now I am a WAHM - the only difference being that my kids are now 4, 5 and 6 and are genuinely fantastic when it comes to giving me 'work time'. I set up dominoes, artwork and puzzles for them to work on, and for the most part, they do. I do have to break up a fight every hour or so but that's par for the course in any household. In summer they can splash in the pool or hang in the tree house on top of the playset as I work from the deck.
But the difference now is I get to do other stuff. Dr. Laura would hate me. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, OTHER STUFF? ARE YOU CHILDREN NOT ENOUGH? YOU'RE A BAD MOTHER!
My children ARE enough. But I want more. I want a paycheck and creative freedom and an intellectually-filled few hours every day. Maybe I should love hanging out with dinosaurs all day and building Lego towns but I want more. I do want that overused phrase of 'me time' and generally I want it so I can be a working mom who still gets to be with her kids.
Now I'd still hate to work in an office or be gone all day, with the kids in daycare. I waited until I was 34 to have my first child so that my husband and I could work out those details. That life is too crazy for me and I'd miss my kids too much, although I know many of us don't have a choice. But lots of us do, and I choose to work from home. I just read that over 35 million Americans also work from home. We're a fast-growing crowd! The food is much better here at home too, compared to a vending machine and cafeteria. Actually, the food is a little to good, now that I think about it...
So is it all a blessing and always rewarding, to stay home? No, it's not. Not for me, anyway. I have days where I wish I could click my fingers and be away from it all, and odd moments of wondering what I'd be doing if I hadn't done the marriage/kids thing. Usually I'm hugely successful in these fantasies and somehow I'm an inch or two taller, a size smaller and I'm taking the working world by storm and ending my days in my city loft with a guy whose hotter than hot. I'm always up for sex and never two weeks over due for a bikini wax. Every day is a 23 Ways to Have it All commercial!
Funny how that works!
Truth is, I would change some things if I could. I'd have a housekeeper twice a week. I'm a loser that this goes into my Top 10 fantasy list, but it does. I'd also like, say, 12 hours of guaranteed childcare every week and a weekend night out. I wouldn't mind a gardener twice a month, either and I wish my kids would go to bed right at 8pm every night without trying to incessantly negotiate like the Priceline.com dude.
But all in all, I have it ok! Life is good. But staying and working from home is hard. Sometimes I want your life, Ms Full-Time Career Mom! Or Miss Career-Focused, Fabulous Boyfriend Woman! However, I think you have it hard too sometimes and maybe you'd like some changes as well.
So I'll just have my housekeeper fantasy, and the occasional one of me OWNING the floor at a conference and heading home to my Latin lover Antonio, to sample his gourmet dinner, overlooking our city skyline and I'll just bitch now again about how life, as I know it, sometimes sucks.
But when it comes down to it all, I'm so glad (and yes, blessed!) to have been able to have kids, and Antonio can stay in dreamland too (I'll take him out on only rare occasions). I have it all, I guess, just not all at the same time. And I need to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for it all. Because if it changed, I'd likely move mountains to get it back.
I'd still sell my soul to the devil for a housekeeper, however. That part still stands.