I’m a stay-at-home-mom and have been for over 3 years. However, for a while there I was just a mom who quit teaching because, where I live at least, daycare costs made my income laughable. And so, I was home full time.
It took me awhile–a couple of years–to really understand what it meant to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom. I had no idea what I was getting into. I don’t really think anyone does, but while on a walk to the park yesterday I spent some time reflecting on my PROFESSION–being a Stay-At-Home-Mom–and I came up with a few (totally arbitrary) benchmarks that will tell you when you are OFFICIALLY a Stay-At-Home-Mom. And, let it be known that this is just a one silly mom’s opinions, but never the less, here they are:
YOU ARE OFFICIALLY A STAY-AT-HOME-MOM WHEN…
1. You know every park, play area and playground in the 20 mile radius of your home.
Parks, playgrounds. Without you our life would be miserable (more miserable?). God bless you parks and playgrounds and may you multiply!
It is never if we should go to the park–it is when and which one. We basically live at the park during the summer and going to the park is the solution to every problem we face–it is the perfect bribe, distraction and reward. The fact that the nearby mall has an indoor play area is the only way we survived the winter. And when I found out that there is a McDonald’s with an indoor play area 5 miles to my house I screamed with joy, texted my husband immediately and ecstatically posted 3 pictures to instagram while we were there. That was a good day.
2. Your wardrobe has come to include so many yoga pants that you have started to categorize them.
Yup, it’s true. I actually have yoga pants that I think of as “dressy”. It has gotten that bad.
The problem is that once you allow yourself to wear yoga pants for a week straight it is hard to imagine wearing anything else. Throw onto that a postpartum body, constant squatting and kneeling and crawling and you better believe this lady ain’t never ever going back to jeans. And besides, when I put on my shiny black yoga pants with a nice top, earrings and some perfume–I’m ready to hit the town!
3. You have learned the hard way that the best place to be is AT HOME.
And I mean you have learned this THE HARD WAY. When you are new to being at home you think, “oh, let’s plan a million playdates! I want to have a fun destination every day!” You make plans to meet your friend who just had a baby too at the mall and together you’ll be those hip moms with their coffees and strollers and cute babies.
And then you get there…and you end up getting your huge-ass jogging stroller wedged into a tiny bathroom while some elderly disabled woman has to wait uncomfortably for you and your screaming baby to get out of her way. Then you have to nurse your now hysterical baby on a toilet only to find out that you forgot to bring wipes and your sweet little one has pooped up to his hair line. And, before you even get your coffee, you leave and the whole way home you get to listen to that horrible screaming cry where it feels like your baby is holding his breath for a full minute at a time. When you finally get home you feel like you have barely escaped with your life and vow to never ever ever leave the house again.
And then you try the same thing again a few years later with a baby and toddler or two, only to curse yourself again.
4. You have come to see any and every accomplishment–errands run, lessons taught, areas of the house cleaned–for what they truly are, A DAMN MIRACLE.
You know, there will be a day when this house will be perfectly clean and organized, when I’ll be in a clean shirt with matching shoes and my husband will have a delicious, nutritious lunch in his hand as he walks out the door to work in the morning.
But, today is not that day. In fact that day won’t be here for a long, long time.
For now I am focused on survival. Is everyone fed, relatively clean, and as happy as possible? Good. If that vacuum gets taken out for spin today and I work my way through a load or two of laundry than we will all throw our hands up in victory. If not, oh well. Miracles can’t happen every day.
5. You acknowledge that some days you need a nap too, and you have given yourself permission to take one.
Ah, nap time. Thank God for nap time. Without nap time my dishes would never get done, I would not have this blog, my bathrooms would be filthy and I would probably be stark raving mad. I look forward to nap time every single day and when one of my brood rebels against napping I am not happy. (Enter Netflix). Some days I even shut off my phone so that no one can bother me during that precious, glorious time.
But then there are days like today–days where I LITERALLY ran from one screaming kid to another all morning long. Over the course of breakfast I stood up 15 times (you know it’s bad when you start counting) and still didn’t get a chance to eat anything until 10am. At lunch I tried to direct the big ones’ eating while breastfeeding the baby and trying to eat myself, only to feel myself nodding off.
I needed a nap too. I used to feel bad about this–everyone else was at work, why should I get to nap? I should be working while they were working, right?
But then I came to my senses. Screw everyone else. I have been running my ass off all morning and if we all want to make it to bedtime ALIVE I needed to get a little sleep. And I’m not going to feel bad about it. If I can get 3 kids to nap at the same time I deserve to take advantage of it.
6. You know that you need some sort of community of other stay-at-home-moms.
I live in the land of cul de sacs, mini vans and strip malls. In those early days of being at home I’d walk through my neighborhood in the middle of the day and feel totally alone, like I was in a ghost-town. Was I the only one not at an office of some sort? Was I the only stay-at-home-mom in the whole world? Hello? Is anyone there?
Turns out I wasn’t. It also turns out that if I don’t get a little adult interaction each day the constant questions of my 3 year old will drive me over the edge. I need to know that other moms are out there are dealing with the same headaches that I am and I need to converse with them.
And so, as a result I’m that creepy mom, lurking ever nearer to you at the park, trying to meet you in my super awkward way…and find out if you are home with the kids too… Don’t be scared. I just want to be your friend!
7. You have come to terms with not getting to shower–or even brushing your teeth–until 2pm.
Another reason I am a nap Nazi is because without nap time, no matter how much spit-up is down my back, play dough is under my nails and sand is in my hair I struggle to find a way to shower. With kids shower-time is not only not sacred, it is the most fascinating, magical, heartbreaking time of the day. My 3 year old and almost 2 year old have decided that when mom showers they NEED to be in there with me…and so I have two options. #1–have to try to clean myself while holding the shower door shut as tightly as I can or #2–try to manage two wet slippery (and very happy) toddlers in the shower with me. Both of these options usually lead to me just skip the shower all together.
And so I have learned to embrace my natural (un-showered) beauty–to love the greasy shine of my dirty hair, to take pride the grass stains on my feet and to wonder in awe at how long that spit on has been on my shoulder. These are the war wounds of motherhood, and I take pride in them. Again, there will be day when showering will return to the am…it’s just not that day today.
8. You hoard and hide dark chocolate around the house.
Sometimes the day just goes wrong. There’s pee on the kitchen floor, an hour ago you only found time to get half dressed and your 3 year old just locked your 3 month old baby in his room, alone.
And so, after you break down a door in a fit of hysterical strength, sterilize the kitchen floor, nurse the baby and finally put on some pants you head outside, put the kids in the sandbox and hold a sleeping baby while you cram chocolate in your mouth until you can smile again.
And you do smile again.
9. You love your kids and husband, but you know that being a mom is not enough.
I blog. I have an etsy shop. I try to be a photographer. I like to stitch and stitch and stitch. Being a mom is great, and I love it (almost all of the time) but I’m more than just a mom. Being a mom is the greatest thing that I get to do each day, but everyone in my life would suffer horribly if being a mother was the only thing I got do each day.
10. You no longer respond, “Well, I used to teach/practice law/work in accounting but now I’m home”, when asked what you do. Now you say, “I work full time at home as a mom. It’s hard, but I love it”.
And let me tell you, this is work. When the kids were born I didn’t stop working. I started working.
And I do love it.
So, what do you think–do you agree with my list? If you have any to add/amend let me know. If it’s great I just might have to expand the list!