The job of a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is pretty unique as far as employment goes. In some ways it reminds me of the role Anne Hathaway plays in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, but without the designer clothes and clean, swishy hair: You are on call 24/7 and there are no holidays – ever. Your boss is a tyrant with never-ending demands, many of which are entirely unreasonable but you must fulfill nevertheless. You eat a lot of grilled cheese.
Beyond that, there are the full days that can pass without any contact with the outside world. Your boss is often completely dissatisfied with many of your decisions, but also loves you and needs you like flowers need the rain. You’re paid in slobbery kisses and scribbly drawings and the satisfaction of knowing you are raising a happy, healthy human being (even if he won’t eat 99% of the food you put in front of him).
Most days, I love being a stay-at-home-mom. The best days are the ones when I put my phone down, accept that time will feel verrrrrrrrry slow, tune out my Inner Productivity Junkie, and just play. Concealer and mascara be damned – my kids don’t care if I look like a dirtbag. When I just let go of all the expectations I put on myself about what I should be doing and get down to their level and play…those are the best days.
(FYI, did you know you can forget how to play? Many years of adulting make you forget. My kids are reminding me. They’re excellent teachers.)
Some days, though, this mama needs to be free. I need to not worry about whether I loaded the stroller into the trunk of my car, or packed snacks in my purse. I need to not go toe-to-toe with an ornery threenager whose mood swings leave me breathless and looking longingly at the bottle of cabernet sauvignon on my counter. I need to be able to tackle 5 things on my to do list in one hour, instead of taking 5 hours to tackle one thing. Some days I need to just do WHAT. I. WANT. WHEN. I. WANT.
Recently, I planned a ‘Mama Day’ for myself. I was going to put both kids in daycare – ALL DAY – and I was going to attack my to do list. Christmas is coming. Relatives will be visiting. Mama needs new tank tops and an eye exam. I planned my Mama Day itinerary with military precision, right down to the route I would take on my errands to minimize traffic delays. I was set. And friends? I was so. damn. excited.
And then, the night before Mama Day, my infant daughter came down with a wheezy cough. Worry and dread squeezed past my excitement and took their seat as dominant emotions. I took my daughter to the walk-in clinic, where I was told we were 20th in line to be seen by a doctor. It was already my daughter’s bedtime and she was losing her mind – there would be no waiting for us that night, which meant a trip back to the doctor in the morning. On the drive home, this worried mama drove over a glass jar that was in the middle of the road – a remnant from recycling day – and punctured a tire so thoroughly that it was flat by the time I pulled into my driveway, 60 seconds later.
Worried about my daughter. Frustrated about my car and the fact that getting the tire fixed added yet another thing to my already lengthy to do list. Bye bye, Mama Day.
By the time I put my baby to bed, my pity party was in full swing.
I wasn’t going to get a day to just take care of me. I wasn’t going to be able to annihilate my to do list. I wasn’t going to get new tank tops.
When I contacted our daycare provider to let her know that plans had changed and I would only be sending my son to her in the morning so that I could take Baby Girl to the doctor, she shared with me some sad news she had received about a woman she knows through their sons’ hockey team. This mama had just learned she has Stage 4 cancer. Not Stage 1 or 2, which would still be awful news to receive. Stage 4. It was a rare type that goes undetected until it’s almost too late. She was told to prepare herself and her family. She was told she might not see her son’s next birthday.
And I was upset about tank tops.
OK, Universe. I hear you. I get it.
Sometimes, a little dose of perspective is needed.
I have the luxury of spending all day, every day with my two little chimps. While they may both have drippy noses and scratchy throats at the moment, and are both on emotional rollercoasters all.day.every.day, they are otherwise healthy and growing and blowing my mind on a daily basis with what they can do. The days may be long, but I am so, so fortunate to have this time with my monkeys.
My biggest problem is figuring out what the hell to serve for dinner.
In the big picture of life, that’s a pretty good problem to have.
The mourning period for my lost Mama Day was short. Someday I will meander through Costco slowly, without kids in tow. Someday I will return more than half the things I bought during my Black Friday shopping frenzy. Someday I will get my eyes tested for the glasses I surely need.
But it’s ok that I don’t know when that ‘someday’ will be just now. It’s ok because, while I’m waiting for it, I get to build forts and make monsters out of play-doh and play peek-a-boo.
Thanks for the reality-check, Universe. This mama needed it.