So what does a stay-at-home mom do all day? Friends wonder, relatives wonder, even husbands have been known to make snarky comments when they return from a day at the office and the vibe is something less than tranquil.
While most of my girlfriends these days are also moms, I do remember those first few months (and years, actually) when I was the only mama among our circle of friends. Suddenly I was alone, drifting, wondering where all the time was going and why it was so freaking hard just to make a phone call sometimes, let alone get out to the pub for a pint and a catch-up session.
I still have a couple of childless friends, and – I’ll be honest – sometimes it irks me when my younger, childless (and, I imagine, carefree…) sister complains of how busy she is. But I do remember how busy I felt before I had kids. I have no idea what I was doing all the time. I must have been very busy getting to work, and then to a pedicure, and then out for beverages… Now I can’t believe I still function AND take care of my children. That does mean less time for socializing. And showering. But, you know, priorities…
I ran across this FANTASTIC piece recently. Columnist Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post takes a question from a childless reader… the question that divides the parents from the non-parents.
“Why don’t my friends with kids have time for me anymore?” If you’ve ever struggled to maintain a friendship as you transition to motherhood (or transition from mat leave back to work & daycare and meal planning, or transition from preschool years to soccer drop-offs and piano lessons)
Here, ladies, is the answer. Copy and paste to those clueless single friends’ facebook walls.
TELL ME ABOUT IT ®
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What’d you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .
Okay. I’ve done Internet searches, I’ve talked to parents. I don’t get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don’t do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I’m asking is: What is a typical day and why don’t moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)? What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.
Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.
Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.
Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.
I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.
So, since it’s validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.
Love this. Please pass it along!
Do you struggle to explain to your friends and family that you just don’t have as much free time anymore? How do you deal with it?