Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I Would Have (Probably) Been a Terrible Stay-at-Home Mom

First of all, you stay at home moms have my respect. Mad respect. You wake up every day and do like 25 jobs--often with little praise. You never get bonuses or raises for things like increasing productivity or working overtime. You are the unsung heroes. Working moms have a whole different set of battles to face--many of them emotional. We try to balance home and work, and usually feel like the work people think we're floundering because of our home-life and our kids/spouses think we're overextended because of work.

 As a child, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Always. I loved taking care of/bossing around my little sisters, babysitting, playing dolls, playing house, playing "school", I basically loved the whole concept. Except I also always wanted a career. I never thought a lot about the fact that the two don't always go beautifully hand-in-hand (something I've learned the hard way). As a young adult, I watched as several of my childhood friends married very young and on went on to become domestic goddesses. I shook my head and said "not for me". I think because my mom always worked (and worked pretty obsessively), I had that picture of family life to a certain degree. Except I was going to find that illusive balance. I was going to work just as hard as her but also be more available to my daughter. I was going to have it all ;) It sounds so easy on paper, right?

My SAHM flaws?

1). I know it's silly, but I feel a little victimized by having to clean my own house. My family growing up was messy. Like, someone might put jelly on toast and leave the jelly sitting open on the counter with the dirty knife right there kind of messy. And from the time I was about 10 years old and up, we always had a semi-regular house cleaner that helped with the upkeep. We weren't rich and didn't have a live in maid or mom just realized she wasn't very good at cleaning up after 4 girls and a sloppy husband and called in professional help. This basically taught me that cleaning was only important if you  were having company or if someone else did it for you. Living in my own place from age 19 to now has taught me better habits, but I'm still not very good with deep cleaning my kitchen or bathroom unless there's a "special occasion". And I sometimes have been known to put a knife with peanut butter on it in the sink without rinsing it off first, or folding my clothes and then throwing them in a pile in my closet. I guess you could say, I'm "closet-messy". Lucky for me, I married a guy who is more or less OCD about having everything clean, so it worked out.

2). I get bored easily. I guess this is why lots of SAHM's join play groups and take their toddlers to the baby-gym and other things. Sitting at home with a one year old gets old really fast. There. I said it. While I can throw myself into her world completely for stretches of time and play it up like the best of them, after awhile I feel that twinge of boredom setting in. Rapidly followed by guilt. I'm working on this.

3). I'm not so great at multi-tasking. Holding the crying toddler while trying to cook a nice dinner while also trying to clean as I go so the house looks nice when Scott gets almost never goes as planned. I clean up the bathroom, she runs in a grabs the TP and has it all over the floor before I notice it's unusually quiet. I make the bed, she sneezes all over the sheets and then wipes her nose on my pillow. At the end of a day home with Ev alone, I usually feel just as exhausted (if not more) than I feel after a day of work. The whole sleep when baby sleeps thing sounds great, but then I wonder when am I supposed to get anything else done?

4). I like to feel the tug of a deadline, the pressure of goals. With kids, you kind of have to set that aside and just be in the moment with them. Which is awesome and probably WAY better for your mind, body and spirit. But I think I would miss the thrill of the deadline....the gratification of challenging myself to get that promotion or launch that new project and the satisfaction of actually doing it!

The truth is, I didn't really end up having a choice. For now, I have more earning potential than my husband, and therefore it's my job to keep the bills paid. And he turned out to be an amazing Stay at Home Dad: his playful nature translates into hours of imaginative play, his creativity makes him the best fort-maker, play-dough sculpture, Muno-drawing parent this side of the Mississippi. He does a great job of balancing parenting with keeping up the house and keeping from getting burned out by doing little things for himself like maximizing nap-time and listening to music he likes to keep his mood upbeat.

Yep, I guess I'm pretty lucky.

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