In constant pursuit of coffee and Christ

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Am Not Just

Among all the wonderful gifts I received over the Christmas season was a delightful bag of Losantiville Blend coffee and a handsome new mug. I must say this blend has quickly become one of my favorites.

Note the cat scratches on my beautiful table. No more cats. 
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be sitting here as a stay at home mom I would have told you that you were out of your mind. The plan was never to stay home, the plan was to be practicing dietetics and nutrition in a well known hospital, as an clinical dietitian, while a loving daycare provider looks after my children. I love to work. I love being busy. I love knowing that I know what I'm doing and that I am doing it well, maybe even better than my colleagues - because I'm one of those extreme competitive types who loves winning and tries her best to lose with dignity and grace... something I am not always successful with, you know, when I lose (please note sarcasm).

Never in a million years would I change my mind about staying home to raise my children. By no means am I coming down or judging working parents either. We parents need to stick together! God opened doors for me to be able to stay home and I walked through them terrified and rejoicing. I have the utmost respect for working parents. Once my family is ready, I will return to what most refer to as the "working world" and join them.

Recently I have noticed a trend in how I am refereed to by those in my life, who do not understand the complexities of full time mommahood, as "just staying home" or "just a stay at home mom" or "not working".


Fueled by my frustration of this misconception, I took to the mommy support groups I take part in via social media, asking for feedback from other stay at home mommas, and boy did I get it! Turns out I am not the only stay at home parent who feels the attitude towards us change. So, for the sake of all stay at home parents, allow me to set the record straight on what we "just" do all day.

A stay at home parent is never off the clock, there are no 8-15 hour days, only 24 hour days. There are no lunch breaks, no potty breaks, no vacation days, sick days, or paid holidays, and no alone time in the car as we travel back and forth. Meals are rarely consumed at anything other than room temperature, showers are strategically planned, and we are almost always wearing something our child was eating. There are no promotions, no raises, little to no adult interaction ... no, we aren't complaining, we love what we do and whom we do it all for, just stating the facts.

Are there days when we just stay in our pajamas? You bet there are. Why? Because we don't just throw a load of laundry in from time to time. We sort, wash, dry, fold, hang, iron, and put away the clothes on our families backs. Maybe we decided against getting dressed today because we've been up all night with a sick/teething/growing/who knows/who cares it's 2am kiddo, who needs to be snuggled on the couch while watching the same Veggie Tales movie over and over. Maybe we're not as done up as you feel is appropriate because sleep was replaced by the following days 'To Do' list running over and over again in our heads: "drop off dry cleaning, don't forget to pick up more toilet paper, start dinner by 2:00 so it's ready by 6:00 and you can leave at 6:30... bread, we have no bread. Shoot. Do I really want to make bread? Yes, yes, I do. Do I have time to make bread? No. Pick up bread and toilet paper... Kiddo needs a bath, do I bathe him in the morning or before bed? In the morning, we will be out too late for a nighty night bath..."

Do you have electric, water, gas, TV and internet, a working phone, food in the house, etc.? You're welcome. Due to the fact we are just home all day, we'll make sure the bills get paid, the shopping is done, the errands ran, the kids dropped off/picked up... we handle all of these tasks, not because we seek acknowledgement but, because we value the time we get to spend together as a family, time that we prefer not be hindered by daily chores.

When you come into our home and are greeted with a clean and orderly place to gather, that's because we also keep up with the housework. We were even nice enough to take out the trash containing dirty diapers. You know, just because we had the time.

Our family is clean and fed. Our pets aren't starving or smelly. Our grass is cut, the garden weeded, snow is shoveled... we just had an extra few minutes, no big deal.

We are their teacher, tutor, counselor, lunch lady (or gent), janitor, maintenance, coach, doctor, nurse, chauffeur. We don't just help with homework and sign papers, we transport to and from football practice, dance recital, youth group, the mall so that they can "hang". We attend their games, their performances, their debates, and somehow muster up enough energy and enthusiasm to cheer them on, every step of the way. We don't just kiss the "boo-boos" and wipe away tears, we are up every two hours checking temperatures and administering medicine when our children are sick. We evaluate what and how much has exited their tummies so as to better understand what they're fighting. We are keeping track of what food may have caused that rash or how many fruits starting with the letter 'P' are required before we see the desired potty results. We keep our family organized and running like a well oiled machine, making, traveling to, and attending all Dr. appointments, specialist appointments, and events, just because we're so darn good at what we do.

We deal with an immense amount of stress and pressure. You think your boss acts like a child from time to time... our boss IS a child. No, we do not let our children run our lives, but when kiddo decides not to nap there is very little you can do about that. So whatever you were planning on accomplishing during those few precious minutes, will just have to wait. Or when you find out that practice was moved from Monday night at 7:00 to Wednesday night at 6:30, that family dinner you had planned for Wednesday will just have to be rescheduled.

Several stay at home parents also run a business out of their home. I started selling my baked goods when Bear was young but as he became more and more mobile my ability to spend hours in the kitchen disappeared, as did my little baking business. I am now a Scentsy consultant, throwing and hosting parties, taking and placing orders, keeping everything organized and on track, answering questions, etc. all while my little man keeps me company. Because, apparently, I just wasn't busy enough.

There also seems to be some misconception as to why we are home. Yes, of course it is because we love and value our children and desire a relationship with them. That being said, we may also be home because of health related issues, because we will actually save money by not spending money on childcare, etc. The list goes on and on.

So the next time you find yourself wondering what we stay at home parents do all day, answer yourself with just a little bit of everything.


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