I didn’t intend to be a stay at home mom. I figured after maternity leave I would happily bounce back to work. Fast forward to a difficult twin pregnancy and my expectations started to change. Then, came comparing my income as a social worker to that of two daycares (HA!). I mostly love being home and I try to appreciate what a privilege my life is. But, three years in, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to work outside the home and what effect being home has had on my three year old twins. It’s hard— working or not working. Below is simply a day in my life and some questions I ask myself throughout it. See this companion piece for working mom of twins’ take on her typical day.
My alarm chimes at 4:48am. My husband’s side is empty again. I picture him on the floor of our daughters’ room, covered in our old comforter after they woke us (again) at 4am. I change into my workout gear and head to our basement gym. The next 40 minutes are likely the only alone time (bathroom breaks included) I will get for the day. Around 5:45am my husband brings our girls downstairs (you’ll notice the lack of shower). I spend the next hour fixing meals, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, placing kids on the potty, and managing there behaviors. At 6:45am we all kiss Daddy goodbye and I convince the girls to eat cereal…most of which ends up on the floor that I’ll now have to mop later.
Mornings are the time I almost never dream of returning to a workplace. I actively enjoy the morning hubbub and relish the sibling chatter in the playroom. I wonder, HOW DO TWO WORKING PARENTS DO IT?!?! I text my husband “thank you” for working.
8:45am: After throwing on “athleisure” wear and wrestling my daughters into clothes (Can they not dress themselves because I’m a SAHM?), I rush them out the door.
I travel back to my life as a social worker. I would just be looking at my desk calendar for the day. Now it can feel as though I have already lived an entire day; I’m already tired. Then comes my biggest luxury as a SAHM: my cappuccino. I corral the girls into the shop (they now “play” coffee shop…Oops) and then we’re rushing again to meet friends.
I first feel grateful that I get to choose my “work friends” and begin chatting. Then I start to feel lonely even amongst support. I am unable to finish a sentence because my girls are clinging and crying. Is their timidity due to not being in full-time daycare? To always having “mama” nearby? I feel embarrassed. I wonder if it’s time to return to work…
I make grilled cheese (again) while they sing through Sofia the First. Mealtimes are when I most miss working. Visiting casually with co-workers or sitting silently with a book…it sounds so peaceful, so relaxing, so actually “lunch hour” like. I try to convince my girls to take three bites of applesauce in addition to cheese and hummus. I play another “Moana” song and focus on their adorableness, which they thankfully possess in abundance. The stand-off ends when I clean the kitchen (again).
Ah, nap time. (1) Fight for 20 minutes getting them upstairs. (2) Read three books. (3) Traipse upstairs repeatedly to “fix” blankets and “go potty.” (4) Realize one daughter is asleep and about to be awakened by her crying sister. (5) Collect awake child. (6) Spend 30 minutes convincing her to “play by herself.” (7) Study for 25 minutes. (8) Retrieve other daughter and manage 40 minutes of post-nap crying.
I’m now reminding myself that I CHOSE this and that 85% of the time, I love it. But sometimes I worry this was the wrong choice for everyone. Would a teacher be more caring? More patient? Would working allow me to be more patient and caring?
I’ve re-heated leftovers so they’re on the table when my husband walks in at 5:20pm. This isn’t some kind of 1950’s throwback; this is mandatory. It allows for exchanging of pleasantries and 45 minutes of negotiating with our girls (ending, again, when I clean the kitchen) and allows for Daniel Tiger before bedtime.
During TV time I sink into an extra hot bath and miss having accomplished ACTUAL THINGS. I used to say, “I counseled four families today!” Now it’s, “I mopped the floor!” I walk slowly downstairs with their pajamas. I feel guilty that I have minimal energy for my husband. (Would I have more energy if I was working or less? Would I feel more guilty or less?) I put on their footies and hope my amazing husband offers to do bedtime (he does).
After watching New Girl with my husband, I go to bed. I fall asleep wondering, as always, Is it easier for working moms?
I routinely come to the same conclusion: IT’S HARD FOR EVERYONE. The only option is to support each other through our decisions and transitions and roles. So, I raise my cappuccino to parents everywhere. You’re doing a great job.