Hello, it’s thefunnysister (Katrina wants me to refer to myself by this title, but I really can’t claim that exclusively), Laura. It is 11:00 am as I write… a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and coffee just served as breakfast, Lilia and Maddie are playing dollies in the den (a room we call the “Castle”, which we converted from a den into the room they share as a bedroom and playroom), and a CD of Bible Songs is playing for the 1 millionth time. The house is in shambles from a weekend out of town, the laundry needs to be done (but I’m out of soap), and every now and then one of the girls will burst into tears over the injustice perpetrated by their sister, requiring extensive sympathy and mediation. I have nothing planned for dinner, but plenty of options. I have a 1/4 tank of gas which remains from the last time I filled up SEPTEMBER 22. I’m 6 plus months pregnant with my fourth girl, and have absolutely no clue what her name will be or how I will manage grocery shopping with three under the age of 4.
Guess what? I love my job.
I’ve worked full time, I’ve been in the office, I’ve done the commute, I’ve done the daycare, I’ve done the timecards and the company meetings, the mundane, the thrilling, the exciting, the money. So I do know both sides of the coin.
Being a stay at home Mom means you are always at work. Even when everyone else, (I tentatively say, “husbands included”) is enjoying time off, be it the morning or evening or weekend – unless you’ve cleared the time frame for yourself through a series of hints, conversations, systems, schedules, and perhaps even written requests – you are on the job. From counselor to comforter, teacher to police, short order cook to maid, doctor and lawyer, animal and pest control, inventory supply, accounting, linguist, translator, photographer. You’re on call despite having not showered in 4 days, and you are expected to scrap book if you don’t have another precious and shareable way of treasuring all these responsibilities. It’s a long job description, fraught with peril and blame. It comes with turbulent emotion, waves of guilt, frequent pressure, and countless, innumerable, endless repetitions.
Guess what? I love my job. **This is meant as commentary on my own enjoyment and satisfaction of being a stay at home parent, and not meant in any way to criticize or paint in a negative light Moms who choose or need to work. Truly, I understand it is necessary or desired for some. I also COMPLETELY understand that a working Mom has all the responsibilities of the house when she gets home… These are just my thoughts for today on my own life…
Lately Moms have gotten a bit of a social boost from the Pro-Woman and Pro-Green and Pro-Kids movement that has come around recently – everyone wants to be the first to say that “being a Mom is the most difficult job in the world, and being a stay at home Mom is the hardest of all.” We get pats on the back and understanding looks, most of the time. Lots of, “oh, you’re so lucky!, but I know it’s not easy!!”.
That’s right. It’s not easy. Not all the time. But often, it is quite easy.
Eating whenever I want is awesome. True, I am usually standing up and/or scarfing the leftovers from the kids (how many spoonfuls of mac n cheese I have enjoyed from the stove pot…. countless), and I’m not always making the wisest of food choices (who else loves goldfish and peanut butter honey sandwiches?), and meal times are a bit relative… (breakfast as soon as everyone else has eaten, lunch either with kids at freakish early 11 or during nap time at 2, dinner… if there is dinner at the table, and if not, refer to above re: mac n cheese). However, in the in between times, when I feel the pressure rising, (yes, you will discover I am frequently quoting song lyrics) I can grab a pack of crackers or an apple – I can crunch as loud as I want without disturbing a cube mate…
I can eat my lunch without watching the clock, I can have friends over whenever I want (or am able, this needs to be taken in a context unrelated to the condition of the house or crank-tastic-ness of kids), and even though grocery trips can be harrowing at best and suicidal at worst… culminating in balloons and cookie crumbles if not tears and threats to life and limb, I CAN go to the grocery store at any time during the day other than nap time.
I read books while I’m at work, I watch T.V. I talk on the phone, I play games, I dress up. I check Facebook, I blog, I smile at pictures. (You’re thinking to yourself, hey, I work in an office and I do all those things, too…. but for me, I’m not CHEATING MY BOSS ) During nap time, I can do real work, like clean up and maintain the house, or I can ignore all of that and sleep, sit at the computer, stare out the window. It is not often that I do these relaxing things, but the point is, I CAN. Sometimes there are the “emergencies” that must be completed on any given day – if company is coming over or no one has any clean underwear – Or I’m in one of those heaven sent but rare moods to organize and scour… but usually most of anything can wait, if I’m just not in the mood to do it.
And speaking of which… My boss is a Jewish carpenter. I always liked that bumper sticker, though a tad cliche. It’s true. I just said to Lilia the other night, in response to the power struggle du jour – “God is our boss! So, God is Daddy’s boss, Daddy is Mommy’s boss (reserve your groans, you feminists), and Mommy is your boss!” (To which, Lilia, the strong willed apple of my eye, thrust her chin out and replied, “NO! I’M THE BOSS!”)
I have worked this job for 10 years. I have worked this job exclusively for a holy paycheck for 4 years. Hey, guess what? Since I’ve been off company payroll, I have gotten several raises. I’ll be getting another one in January. Would you like to know what my latest compensation package looks like?
Me too… I hope she’s as pretty and precious as her three older sisters…
Yes, for this raise in pay, I will endure months of fatness, sleepness nights, hours of painful contractions, embarrassing nakedness in front of strangers, expulsion of a 7 pound squid from body, days or weeks of limping, months of floppy necked fragility, years and years and years of parenting… But just look… Look at that silky butt, that puckered mouth, the skin that begs to be snuggled. Totally worth it.
This will be my last raise, but not my last benefit. I have years and years of career awards to look forward to. I might get a bonus on Friday because I’ll spend part of the day working on Karissa’s Halloween costume, which she will love. I will be able to spend several days in the next few weeks working on redecorating her room, the final product is to be a surprise – and I know I’ll get a good paycheck that week.
Unexpected compensation? The kids clamoring at the door, frantically and excitedly shouting, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” when Mike comes home… and I’m always here for that. I get to see these children bloom, learn, sprout, grow, rebel, obey, love each other. I get to make Mike lunches (when I remember) and I get to see him when he comes home for lunch on some days (thank goodness for an office 5 minutes away). I get to have dinner waiting for him (more groans? Gimme a break, I love the guy), and I get to thank him.. really thank him genuinely for working so hard and making my job possible. *Honey, if you’re reading, single tear…*
I love my job. I haven’t done it so well today… by now it’s 1:30 pm, the dishes still aren’t done and Lilia is watching T.V. instead of doing something vastly more constructive, the floor is signing a petition to be vacuumed, and the laundry demands a DIY soap solution.
On the other hand, I read one of the Olivia books to Maddie today, and she loved it! She pushed her chubby finger on the page where the dog was and said, “Goggie!” and then again on the cat and said, “Goggie!”. This morning I laughed and laughed when she responded to my “Are you stinky?” inquiry with a vehement and lively, “I skinky!”
Today, I made a checklist for Karissa on her nightly responsiblities prior to school, which will drastically improve the morning bus routine. I held Lilia as she cried mournfully over a pinched finger, I stroked her hair and said, I love you, Little Bear…
Yeah, I love this job. Nothing is ever, or should ever, be perfect this side of heaven. But I wouldn’t trade places with anyone, anywhere, for anything. Thanks, Boss! You knew what you were doing all along.