Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The best person for the job

When I was a going to work mom, I thought being a stay at home mom would be so super easy.  I mean, I was already doing both jobs, right? And pretty darn well (or so I assured myself).  So if I could one day just drop the job job and make the home thing my only job, I would be so relaxed!  I'd have all this free time!

Surely my house would be kept clean, the laundry would be finished, errands would always be run on time, I would never be late for an appointment.  Because my work would be cut in HALF, you guys.  I'd be doing half the work!  Because look!  Clearly by going to a job job, I'm doing twice the work of a mom who stays home!

Oh my gosh, yes, please slap my in-the-past self.  Or pray for me.  Yes, that would do quite nicely.

Because you know what I neglected to figure into the equation?  The three kids who would also be in my house with me.

See,  most of the time as a full-time working mom (I'm just going to say "working" to mean "at a job outside the home" because although I fully acknowledge that what I do now is also work, ain't nobody got time for typin' all those words every single time.  End disclaimer) we rolled like this:

I normally worked Tuesday thru Saturday.  Mondays I would usually still take the kids to the family that did their daycare (that is why my certainty that I was doing so well at both of my jobs was maybe a little misplaced) so that I could run errands and workout and get my toes done alone.  On Saturdays my husband got no such day to himself because he had the girls with him while I went to work, but I somehow missed that entire dynamic during those years.

If I cleaned the house before I went to bed, you know what? It was still clean when we got home in the evening because no one had been there!  There were no children having snacks or doing crafts or learning or living or doing.  It was kind of like a life museum.

"What would I even DO with all my free time if I didn't have a job???" I would think.  Oh my gosh.  I'm really going deep into confession land right now you guys.  It's so embarrassing.  What a jerk I was.


I. Had. No. Idea.

But then....then everything changed.  We had our third baby and I became a stay at home mom on basically the same day and the phone rang and it was reality and it was all like "Hahahahahahaha!  Ya feelin' strong NOW woman?  Tell me you're feelin' strong!"

Y'all, I didn't know.  I didn't know how much work it is to feed and entertain and help and encourage small children for the entire day every single day.  And this is when the older ones were still going to school!  I was a stay at home mom of three, one of whom was a newborn, and I had no clue what I was doing.

I didn't know about time management and using naptime to its full potential.  I didn't know about blitz cleaning right before dinner.  I didn't know that you could go places and accomplish things during the day on, like, a Wednesday.  I didn't even know how to make friends.  And it was really, really hard.

Obviously, particularly in retrospect, it was also good.  It was the right thing to do and the best thing that I could offer my family (because of course hard doesn't mean bad).  But still- it was hard.  Way harder than I expected it to be and certainly way harder than I thought I was allowed to think it was.  It was like....it was like I had jumped into a brand new job with no training, no co-workers, and no support network and expected myself to be wildly successful.  Because of course that makes perfect sense.

Having both parents working full time was hard for our entire family, but when I started staying home, it was really only hard for me and that was not easy to share or explain back then.  I didn't have the vocabulary and I didn't have my village.

So I guess what I'm saying is this: if you have just started staying at home full time and it feels hard, way harder than you expected it to be, that's because it probably isBut it's going to be okay.  You're not doing it wrong and there is definitely no one better to do it.  It's just...hard work.  Being a working mom is hard.  Being a stay at home mom is hard.  My mistake was thinking that one of them is intrinsically harder than the other and that if I could just do the opposite thing from the one I had to do, I could finally be a woman of leisure.


From the brain of Dwija seven years ago to the eyeballs of any stay at home mom reading this: I am so, so sorry.  I was clueless but now I have a clue and I am facepalming myself something fierce.

From the brain of Dwija today to the eyeballs of any mom of any scheduling or life requirement reading this: you are doing hard things and you are doing them well.  You are the best person for this job.

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  1. Oh my goodness.... this is so true! When Therese was little I worked outside of the home AND watched her, but when I switched to just taking care of her full time? It really had its own set of challenges!

  2. And lo and behold, you taught that 3rd baby to drive a BOAT! Look at you now!!!


    Loved reading this history...nice validation and encouragement for the SAH crew - it IS hard but it's not ALWAYS as hard as the beginning. I was SAH, then PT work for 4 years, transitioning back to SAH now and realize I will and do miss those breaks for alone grown-up clear-thinking time, as much as i felt the pull SO much while working. Thanks Dwija!

  3. Amen! Also, can you read my MIND??!!?!

    I've been home a little over a year now. I secretly felt that SAHMs were kinda lazy & just needed to put in structure, routine, hard work, blah blah blah blah. In essence, I was gonna show everybody! Hahaha!!

    Boy, have I been humbled sense...

  4. I was never a full-time working mom, but I remember sometimes wondering, of my friends who were stay-at-home moms before I had kids, "What do they do all day?" It wasn't a mean wondering, but I just remember thinking that it would be so easy. Hahahahaha! I'm so glad I know better now, and that I have my village who know better too.

  5. "My mistake was thinking that one of them is intrinsically harder than the other and that if I could just do the opposite thing from the one I had to do, I could finally be a woman of leisure."

    I agree there is no such thing as being a woman of leisure. Staying home is hard work. Working is hard work. When I was home, I was so overwhelmed by it all. Hard stuff to learn how to be a mother. I have to disagree here about one of them not being intrinsically harder than the other. Being away from home 55 hours a week working for people who do not care if you have children or any other outside responsibilities is intrinsically harder than not doing that. Of course, my perspective may be skewed by the fact that my house is not empty while I'm at work. If I clean the house tonight before bed, it will be trashed when I get home tomorrow. Hopefully one fine day, I'll be home again and maybe eat my words here. :D

  6. I remember my first few days as a SAHM. It was SO HARD! I remember telling my husband by the end of that first week that he had it so good lol Not really...I love my "job" but it does get hard. At least at work you clean up your desk and it stays that way. Here, not so much.

  7. "you are doing hard things and you are doing them well. You are the best person for this job." Such an important message for every mom (no matter where they work) to hear. Thank you for this!

  8. "A life museum " <-- *brilliant*

  9. I too worked outside the home until my third was born. What a rude awakening that was. When I was working I felt like I was doing two jobs, but not very well. And then when I finally got to stay home, I felt like I was doing that poorly too! You just can't win! Solidarity to all the mamas, working or no. This life is hard. But yes, we are the best people for this job.

  10. ah, the days of the life museum...

    this is so good Dwija!

  11. How do I get the gig where I stay at home AND have a Life Museum??

  12. Oh my gosh dwija, PREACH. I am so on board with every one of these words in all the paragraphs. Amen sister-mom. (<---but not in some weird Greek tragedy sense of the word.)

  13. This is SO true! I used to be one of those future mom's who thought that if I was lucky enough to be able to stay home when I did have kids, my life would be SO MUCH EASIER. I wouldn't have to WORK ANYMORE. lol Somedays I wish I could go into my old 9-5 justso I could have an hour lunch break. lol and coffee breaks! Although, I have never come home from a day at work to kids who need me. We all work hard. But, this post is so true. It's a lot of work! And building a village....how do you do that again?

  14. I'm not a mom, but I hope to be and you're just the best.

  15. Has anyone seen various posts online from men saying, "I now realize my wife has it hard as a SAHM"? I saw one on HuffPo recently. The comments are hilarious. So many people jumping into to talk about how they were a SAHM for a few years when their children were small and YES, they did do everything PERFECTLY and they had so much free time left over.

    I don't even get mad when I see that--I get curious. Can they please share these secrets for doing things perfectly and having a ton of free time? Inquiring minds want to know. Because I get up with my kids and between the food prep, meal clean up, diaper-changing, bed-making, and engaging the kids, I can relish these moments of free time (like right now), but definitely not hours.

    Nice post, Dwija. Very encouraging!

  16. Great post, thank you! I work from home as an online teacher, and jeez lousie, some days I feel that as long as I've kept my 2 kids alive until my husband gets home that I've accomplished my day's goal. It is absolutely amazing how much time it takes from your day just doing the small tasks of feeding and cleaning up and changing diapers and managing fits. And I only have 2 kids - I can't imagine juggling things with any more kids but I know so many other women do it.

  17. When I first stayed home full time with my then 6.5 year old and 1 year old, I cried every day for the first full month. Like sobbing crying. Thankfully, my wonderful husband realized that 75% of my crying was because I was just really lonely and he encouraged me to go and seek out friends. I just had no idea it would be so taxing. Like you said, it never occurred to me that the chores that weren't too bad when we were both working and the girls were at day care would now be monumental ALL DAY LONG events. It was a definite learning curve. Even now, after 5 years of being the one who is home all the ding dong time, I still look around and think, "Dude, I still am not good at this gig."

    1. Oh my gosh Virginia it is totally the middle of the night and I am (obviously) procrastinating going to sleep because it's so deliciously quiet I just had to take a moment and read Dwija's AWESOME words of womanly wisdom. :) But then I had to read the comments - as is often the case - because I didn't want all that Dwijawesomeness to just suddenly end. And then I saw your comment, and considering the fact that it sounds like you wrote it as a favor for my guardian angel who wanted to let me know I am not the only one who thinks she'll never get it... I just had to reply and say: ditto, yo. Ditttt-TOE. And amen, hallelujah, and namaste. :) I think you're Virginiamazing. (Haha, ask Dweej - I'm really not a psycho; just weird. The good kind though.)

  18. When I started reading this I was nodding and laugh laugh laughing (in my head, because I definitely can NOT wake up the babies) and then I came across this part:

    "and the phone rang and it was reality and it was all like "Hahahahahahaha! Ya feelin' strong NOW woman? Tell me you're feelin' strong!"

    and I nodded and laugh laugh laughed again (silently of course, but sincerely identifying with the whole thing)

    and thought about posting a shot of my house right now and blogging about it, but I'm PRETTY sure that someone would get all concerned and call social workers or HOARDERS or something to report us to... so I'll hold off until my ankle is better and see if I can get a bit more of this laundry and paperwork put away before these twins come ...and then just prepare myself for that fit of laughter that will hit me when I realize once again how NOT together I have it all.

    But I love my husband. And I love my kids. and I love my life (even if it's messy). The end.

  19. When I took maternity leave with my first, I couldn't believe how many of my work skills I was having to draw on. Keeping a 2 week old happy was requiring more of my negotiation & problem solving skills than I ever used when telling fraud victims that I couldn't recover their losses for them!


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