I don't want to argue whether or not being a stay-at-home mom is harder, or easier, or the same, as being a working mother. Being a good parent and being a good anything else (including, friend, spouse, employee, advocate, or just being yourself) is very hard. Raising a child is all encompassing; it's 24/7. My knee-jerk response when one of the girls says, "Mommy!?" is, "Yep, that's me. All day and all night."
During the summer, I love the change of pace from the rat race that is the academic year. From September to June, we spend lots of time running around,traveling in the car, sitting inside, fighting colds and other winter illnesses, making lists, losing them and forgetting the million things we have to do, and falling asleep within 15 minutes of the girls' bedtime. In the summer, I can let go of the frenetic pace, breathe fresh air, and purposely forget the to-do list. Yet, somehow, I'm more tired at the end of a summer day than I am the rest of the year. Maybe it's the water and sunshine. Andy gets frustrated at me during the summer, which he has referred to as my "bon bon summer" (He told me yesterday he hasn't said that in years, but still.) because he just doesn't understand why I'm so tired and frazzled when I'm not working. Not working, you say? Hmm, let's think about that some more.
Andy has never spent a day, from sun up to sun down, alone with the girls. (Yes, there was that time last winter when his mom was visiting and she was really sick, and Caroline had lice, Char was a babe, and he was home with all three of them for two days and yes, he is a saint for it and I'll never forget how he was a rock and I would have been in a padded room if I were in his place.) He always has parental or sitter support, or they are off to school or daycare for at least part of the day. Now, please keep in mind that Andy is often gone before they are awake and arrives home after their bedtime, and frankly, long after mine as well. (We'll address his work-aholism and baseball in a future blog.) This means that I'm on mom-duty all day long.
When you are a mom (ok, parent, but because I'm writing about myself I'm going to say mom. I don't mean to offend any stay-at-home dads or grandparents or other care providers) you wear many hats. While my paying job has a level of diversity to it, for the most part, I can cover my responsibilities and variety of skills in a paragraph of bullet points. This is not the case for my mom resume. I wouldn't even know how to begin covering my plethora of skills and abilities, duties and assignments under the umbrella title, MOM. In any given day, while being MOM, I can call myself:
Upstate Mommy- experienced Mum with over 5 years of success in customer service. 100% satisfaction rate.
Recommendations: "I love my Mommy because she lets me ride my scooter and helps me wipe my butt. When is dinner?"-Caroline
"Mommy! I love her!"-Charlotte
Just the other day, after Andy told me his busy schedule for the week, aka, me alone from 7am-eternity, I said, "Don't expect me to be your biggest fan this week." and then I tried, again, to explain to him why I'm a crazed, yet suntanned, lunatic each summer day. Since he and I communicate in different languages, I've been trying to become fluent in Andy-speak, which is a combination of work terms, one syllable grunts, and sports terminology. "Listen. Staying at home with the girls ALL day and ALL night is like working in a factory. You know how factory employees can only work on the job for so many hours before they are required to take a break, right? That's because the work they do is so tedious and intense and repetitive that if they don't take a break, the quality of work diminishes and there's more room for error and accidents. Can you see how this might relate to staying home with the kids for 8 hours, plus overtime? Speaking of which, I'd like to talk with you more about my time-and-a-half pay."
While taking a breath from my speech, which I was quite proud of, I think I noticed a glimmer of recognition in Andy's eyes. Could it be that I had finally mastered Andy-speak and that he would recognize the hard work I've been doing all these years? I felt so good about making this connection and securing his buy-in. So good that I could see myself, each morning, putting on my hard hat and punching in for duty before getting the girls out of bed and throwing in a load of laundry.
Instead, Andy looked at me and said, "What was that you were saying? I was just thinking about going out and mowing the lawn. I've got a lot of work to do today. Not all of us have the summer off, you know." Sigh.
I'd better get back to the grind. If the bosses find out I'm not working, I'll be in serious trouble."