Sometimes I wish I was a stay-at-home mom. I would get the Legos picked up off the floor. I would have the clothes actually put away in drawers. I wouldn’t get so wrapped up in trying to decide whether to crate the dog and keep the floors clean or chance it that maybe she won’t pee today while we’re gone.
And if I managed to get all this done during the day, I’d actually look forward to hugging the boys after school and sifting through their artwork and crumbs and broken pencils to find the one sheet of homework crammed into the torn folder in their backpack. I’d pull it out and gently guide them through a relaxing session of learning at our comfy “homework” station, reviewing their scattered errors on the week’s spelling or math test, finding the blue crayon to color in the weekends and yellow crayon for the weekdays of the calendar, and cutting out and pasting a photo of something beginning with the letter “N.”
Life would be so different if I was a stay-at-home mom.
It’s 4:17 pm. I leave a meeting at a local university. I’ve been in and out of the office all day. I’ve been trouble-shooting via email. I’ve been writing up grant ideas. I’ve been designing our new website. I’ve been answering phone calls. I’ve been learning how to merge scanned pages into a single PDF document. I’ve been shaking hands, smiling and thinking up grand ideas for collaboration during a two-hour meet-and-greet session. And I’ve been sweeping all that into the corners of my mind during the harrowing drive on snowy roads to get to the daycare center to gather the two youngest boys.
I rush through inches of snow in dress shoes to check on the driver of a car crash right beside the center. I put up cones “borrowed” from the day care center to warn other drivers. I meet the parents of my middle kid’s new best friend. I commiserate on how not all day care centers are perfect. I find coats and back packs. I forget (again) to empty the papers from the boys’ mail slots which overflow until the teachers just hand them to me. I buckle the boys in with fingers numb from cold exposure and stubborn carseat buckles. I turn on track #8 so we can listen to it for the thousandth time. I breathe.
Home – gather up and take out trash and recycling. Move the clothes from washer to dryer and start the next never-ending load of soiled torn boy clothes (and just spray a couple of those stained white items – who ever bought white!?!). Take the dog out and beg her to pee because my ears and legs are frozen standing here with you. Open and close the fridge looking for left-overs. Open and close the cupboard doors looking for something mildly nutritional. Greet the second-grader dropped off by my mother who helps with after-school care. Warm up the chocolate milks. Monitor the math homework of the eldest child. Stop countless battles over Legos, time with the dog, who broke the train set, flashlights, Spy Gear goggles, books, basketballs, stuffed animals. You name it – it’s scattered on my floor and ammunition for whichever kid doesn’t have it in his hands at the moment.
Bathtime. Pajamas. Mama’s glass of wine.
Book reading. Teeth brushing. Really – put the pull-up on!
Settle down. Stop joking around.
By the time the oldest and youngest are asleep (and I awake from my mini-nap on their bed), I find the kindergartener wrapped in his special “blue blanket” sacked out in front of the space heater. I sigh. Lifting him gently and tucking him into bed, I kiss his forehead and pat the dog who cuddles in beside him.
For a moment.
I’m sorry, dear kindergarten teacher. Thank you for your kind email this morning. Yes, I know that homework at age five “is important to set a good foundation to carry through in the upper grades”….but I just didn’t get to it last night.
And yet, this single working mother of three wild, delightfully rambunctious boys is going to do better today. I think…..
I just stumbled upon this post, and I felt myself nodding along to everything you said. I have this picture of the mother I would be if only I could be at home- but even then I know it is not a reality. I am always on the go, and always busy. I sometimes wish I could just slow down and devote myself to my kids, but at the same time I have been there before. It was a brief vacation from work, just under a year I spent at home with the kids, and I still wasn’t that idea of “perfection” I thought being a stay at home mom would make me. I do the best I can, and that’s really all anyone can ask. Just know that you are doing great!
Thank you so much for your words. It is true – there’s no “perfect” either way and we do have to remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can. (And even if today wasn’t my best, tomorrow I’m back in there for another round). I think my post today was in response to the teacher’s email – sometimes I feel like I’m slapped down when I’m just barely keeping things together anyway. The teacher knows nothing of our home…she’s trying to be helpful. And I know that. And I support schools and homework. I remind myself that I’m doing okay…and I so love to hear from other people that we’re in this together.