If you’re looking for a profession where you receive praise for your accomplishments, monetary compensation, and the feeling that you have completed the tasks that you wanted to that day, don’t become a stay-at-home mom. Not that it doesn’t have its’ own rewards, but these are not generally among them.
I love being home with my kids, but the thing that drives me crazy is when my husband gets home and tells me I didn’t get anything done that day. It seems like keeping three children alive through the day is an accomplishment by itself. Some people are paid just to take care of children, so doing that is “work” for them, but if they are your own children, people seem to think that you sit around all day relaxing.
Since my husband farms, he works for himself. Although there are limits placed by equipment breaking down, bad weather, and other factors, for the most part, he can decide what he wants to accomplish that day, and then do it. I can only dream of such a luxury. My plan for the day is often derailed. For instance today I came down from getting my daughter to sleep for her nap to discover that my younger son had pooped…in the toilet, on his froggy potty, and in his underwear. I had to clean him up, clean his potty out, and then go get him a clean outfit before I could even start on anything else. I managed to fit in a workout, and then I helped my boys feed the cat after I changed back into my regular clothes. I was in the library looking for some books for a history course I am teaching when I heard my oldest yelling that the dog had gotten out. The boys are pretty careful not to let him out, but apparently they weren’t careful enough this time. One of our dogs, Max, grew up in a rescue shelter and has never really learned boundaries, so he only goes outside on a leash. By the time I got to the door, Max was crossing the road in front of a car. Luckily he was back in our yard by the time the cement truck went by. We chased him around the back of our house, then around behind our barns. As we got out in front of the barns, he went across the road again. My boys were running toward the road, so I told them to stop. I had to tell my 5 year old to hold onto his brother because my 3 year old was not going to stay back from the road. Although I would hate to have them watch their dog get hit by a car, it would be worse to have one of them hit. I had to climb down in the ditch and get a hold of Max’s collar and walk him back to the house. At least I had changed out of my sports bra and spandex shorts before his escape. We were enough of a sight as it was I’m sure, without adding that into it, although I did get some extra cardio in.
Although it keeps me plenty busy just trying to keep on all the regular household tasks, along with homeschooling, I also sew, write, and bake as a hobby and small business. There are times it is fun, and times it feels completely overwhelming. On the days when I feel like I just can’t keep up with everything I have to do, I wonder why I get myself involved in so much. I enjoy everything I do, but I also don’t like the feeling that all I am is someone who takes care of the kids. I love doing it, but I don’t want my whole identity to be wrapped up in emptying the dishwasher and filling sippy cups. I think the worst part of it is that when we see someone that we don’t run into very often, they ask my husband how the farming is going. They ask how the kids are and what they are doing. They don’t usually ask what I am doing. It seems like if you are home with your kids, the only thing you could possibly have to talk about is how your children are.
While everyone strives to find a balance, I have found that it is pretty much impossible to do over the course of a day. I try to take a longer view of things. There are days that I don’t get much done on the house, but the kids have a fun and relaxing day. There are days when I have to meet a deadline for a project and that is my main focus, aside from making sure the kid’s basic needs are met. There are days where the stars align and I get several household projects done at once and I actually feel like I accomplished what I wanted to. Once in a blue moon, I have a day that actually feels relaxing to me. I try to make sure I exercise a decent percentage of the time, although it doesn’t always happen as much as I would like. Sometimes we have healthy meals that I plan out. Sometimes we have pasta for a week straight. I know that at this point, with three kids 5 and under, it is too much to expect that most days will go according to my plan. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t drive me crazy sometimes.
What makes it worthwhile are the days when the kids snuggle in bed with us in the morning. The days when my oldest, who is not usually affectionate, comes and gives me a big hug and a kiss. When I get to see the joy my daughter has at learning a new skill, like stealing her brother’s playdough off the coffee table. When I get to hear my three year old learn to talk, so he can say phrases from Scooby Doo, like “Hey, dude!” There are days that I feel like I may lose my sanity if the boys make one more lap around the kitchen island, screaming at each other either in joy or anger, but the good moments are worth being there for.
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