Monday, June 6, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Stay at Home Mom

I am Lydia and I am a stay at home mom. That is an admission that may elevate or denigrate me, depending on who I’m talking to. There are times when people ask me what I do and I have a moment where I freeze. Where I contemplate frantically pointing and yelling: “LOOK OVER THERE!”, and then running away as fast as I can. But then they would just think I was mentally incompetent, which is of course only almost true.

The truth is that saying I’m a SAHM opens up a can of worms. And those worms are a bunch of judgmental little a-holes. I choose this life.  And I’ve been to the other side, too. I used to be a working mom, but then I had a third baby and decided to leave behind a career I loved for the kiddos I loved more. Also, the cost of daycare was about the same as my salary, so there’s that. I was incredibly lucky to have the choice to stay home and I haven’t regretted it once. But it’s not without its challenges.

So here is my SAHM confessional and these are some of my domestic enemies:

People who think I don’t work anymore. It’s true that I don’t have a job. That pays me. But the next person that says “Oh, that’s right – you don’t work” will probably get a roundhouse kick to the throat. It may only occur in my mind, but it will be a stealthy, silent, and ninja-like deathblow. Because I really don’t know what’s more insulting; the notion that I don’t work or the idea that taking care of kids all day is some kind of f*cking vacation.

Time and Control. There is this idea that I am in control of my own schedule. That I get to decide when to do things. We’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am like every other mom; I simultaneously control everything and nothing. If I don’t keep the trains running, they all come to a grinding halt. Meanwhile, I can’t control when and if I will sleep, return a phone call, or bathe myself without committing an act of child neglect. I have taken maybe three showers in the past 8 years where I haven’t been silently praying; “Please don’t let the kids set the house on fire or choke on Cheerios while watching Dora for the three minutes I’m in here taking a prison shower”.

He's talking about me.
The-Assume-I’m-Stupids. There are people who know nothing about me, other than the fact that I breed and care for offspring. They show me not even basic courtesy and will not deign to listen to a word I say. Because I’m so stupid I can’t even recognize that some douchebag in a suit is patronizing me. Why do you think housewives become PTA Nazis? Because they are so tired of being treated like irrelevant imbeciles, when in fact they are highly intelligent and cunning creatures who must not be thwarted. And let me just take a minute to say that those of us in the SAHM ranks who are young (or look young), or didn’t go to college, or who don’t have a lot of money, are often treated with such little respect that it makes me want to run into the forest and do an angry dance.

The Pressure and The Guilt. I stay at home with my kids so therefore, my days consist of flitting about from chore to errand to volunteer commitment to enriching toddler class, while preparing nourishing organic meals and keeping a perfect house. Oh even wronger. Let’s also add to this list the expectation that because this is my job, that I will be good at it all the time. Just because I reject the notion of Perfect Mommy does not mean I don’t feel the pressure. And feel bad every single day that by their standards, I suck at my job.

This is what I say to myself to keep from
squaring up on the haters.
The Judgey McJudgersons. These are the jackbags who ask me things like: “What do you do all day?” Do you know what that question really means? It means F*CK YOU. It means, I’ve just peed up high on this fence-post, so you’ll know I think I’m better than you. Do you know what the equivalent insulting question of horror is for a working mom? Let me lay it on you: “Who takes care of your kids while you work all day?” Feel free to ask a mother either of those questions if you want her to instantly hate you.

I could write more about how wearing nice clothes is stupid when small people just use your shirt as a nosewiper. Or why random people in my life assume that I’m available to take care of their schmidt for them because I’m at home all day apparently doing nothing. Or the isolation and loneliness from the rest of the world that a lot of us SAHM’ers feel but never talk about. Or how I used to be really smart but now my brain is as slow and flabby as my mid-section.

But the truth boils down to this: I choose to be a stay at home mom. I am penned up in the monkey house all day long with a husband who works gulag hours.  But in that smelly monkey house are the moments that make everything worth it.

The importance of this time was reaffirmed the other day when I was out-of-my-mind crazy with the lack of adult conversation and sleep. I was sitting, all twitchy down the hall, when I heard Mini-Me start crying.  I rushed down the hall to see her holding a small baby doll opposite my six-year old son, Hawk, who was holding an array of Batman action figures poised to rescue the doll.  When the League of Justice rushed to save the baby, Mini-Me squealed with delight and hugged her brother.  I heard Hawk say, in a whisper "I'll always save you," and he hugged her right back.

When I choked back my Mommy-tears, I realized that's why I do it. That moment once or twice a day, when the monkeys show that they're turning into awesome little people.  And I got to see it.  Just before they started throwing poo again.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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