Being “Just” a Stay at Home Mom
My work is cut out for me the moment I wake up in the morning. I spend several hours a day cleaning up after cats, dogs, chickens, people, and a baby (who makes more messes than I thought possible). When I get up in the morning, there’s already a list a mile long in my head. I won’t get through most of it, I know, but if I can get the regular stuff done plus one or two extra things a day (like an extra load of laundry to catch up, or a bit of scrubbing in the kitchen) then I might, someday, be able to come down stairs and just do the things I do every day.
Sometimes I get a shower and sometimes I do not. The one thing I can always guarantee in the morning is that some sort of bodily function will need to be cleaned. Sometimes it’s just drool from my daughter (who likes to suck on my shirt while I try to get a few more minutes of rest as she kicks and turns in attempts to wake me up) and sometimes it’s a morning surprise meant only for a parent. Either way, there’s always something on my list that isn’t really on my list. Usually, in my head, this becomes “To-Do: What You Can’t Anticipate”.
I do work a little here and there, when the work pops up. I write articles for clients on oDesk, a website that helps people like me find work in our fields. I edit sometimes, too, and I’m going to start a tutoring job for a few hours a week soon. I make a few bucks a month. Other than that though, the house is my domain. I’m just a stay at home mom.
So after the morning cleanup where I may not have actually gotten into the shower, I often start on the kitchen. Even though there is usually only a day’s worth of dishes and mess (or less) to clean, there are five to seven people who occupy my house, so it’s always a drag getting through all those pots and pans while my daughter talks to herself on my back (and sometimes, if she’s feeling particularly cranky, on the counter or in her high chair with a whisk and some veggie fries and eggs). Then the counters. Then the floors.
Then there’s the cat hair. Oh my gosh, the cat hair. I vacuum every other day at the least to try to keep the cat hair under control. There are often two or three canisters worth of cat hair haunting my carpet, waiting for the unsuspecting human to sit down and enjoy a moment in a space that “looks” clean. Later, they realize they were assaulted by a legion of sleeper agent cat hairs. That’s always an unfortunate moment, and also why I keep lint rollers in every room of the house.
The couch always needs attention. A cat always needs to be brushed. Someone needs to be fed. A surface needs to be cleaned, and then there are the 2-3 naps a day my daughter takes that require upwards of an hour of my time each time. The dogs need a walk and feeding. The chickens need to be checked on.
There’s always something.
I admire working moms more than the average bear, I think, because not only do they have to deal with the list they have at work, they have to come home (likely) and do it all over again. I’ve learned that since becoming a mom, I always have a list of things to do. I walk in the door and the carpet is crunchy; I’ll need to remember to clean it. I take a casual glance at my office space; it needs a good vacuum. My work email doesn’t go off promptly at six AM – I must have forgotten to post an article for that day and should go do that before someone notices.
There’s always something. Sure, I just stay home. I just manage an entire home almost completely on my own full time, 24/7 (ESPECIALLY on holidays!). I think moms who manage households, whether they work some of the time outside them or not, are not just anything.
I raise the future. I set an example for my daughter each and every day, even though she’s only six months old. I keep it together when things look a little difficult, or a lot difficult. I show her what a rainbow is, and how to appreciate the little things. I provide her a clean, safe environment to grow up. I show her love. I do my best to make sure that one day when she inherits the earth that she does so with kindness and grace.
I change the world in little ways. I might not be protesting in big, overpowering ways, but I do what I can from where I am. I don’t support big companies that have moral compasses that are much, much different from my own. I have a house full of rescue cats that often had nowhere to go, but are safe now. I maintain a dirt backyard to help conserve water. I recycle. These are things that only I can do as the maintainer of my own home…and I’m proud to do them.
I become a more productive member of society. Sure, I’m not working per se, but that gives me time to do other things. I can volunteer my time, money and effort. I can be here for a friend or family member that needs help moving. I can help the neighbor catch their dog as it runs down the street. I get to be part of the community in other ways.
I get to be a supportive wife. Moms that work their butts off are supportive to their family in different ways, and big ones too. But I get to be home when my husband gets home from long school and work days. I get to provide whatever he needs when he needs it. I know, it’s a little old school. But it’s satisfying to me, and in return I get a devoted husband who works hard and loves his family without reservation or protest.
But I’m just a stay at home mom. I just stay at home, right? Yeah.