*Please see Kristen’s upcoming piece for a stay-at-home mom’s perspective.*
I’m not the kind of person who needs to work to feel valued, productive, and mentally stimulated. I work to make ends meet and have family health insurance. I would be just as happy and have just as many complaints as a stay-at-home mom. There have been many times in my work life when I have thought it is easier to deal with my children, who are learning and developing, than to deal with actual grown men and/or women who should know better. Here is a sample day in my life as a working mom and those moments I would love to trade it all to be a SAHM.
Wake-up, 6:25 am: Time for my weekday ritual of a cup of coffee in bed while hubby is showering and twins are (theoretically) asleep. I tell myself I’m going to read my book du jour, but I’ll probably really check social media, try to clean up e-mail, maybe do a Duolingo Italian lesson. By 7:00, we’ll go rouse the sleepy-headed kindergartners and they’ll eventually get up, dressed, and ready for the day while I shower and get dressed myself. Hubby exits at some point. Then breakfast (something quick on paper plates with a side of “STOP PLAYING! IS IT PLAYTIME? NO, IT’S NOT PLAYTIME!”) and we’re out the door by 8:10 for school and work. This last part typically involves a lot of
yelling encouragement and reminders to focus on the few steps they have to do so we are not late. Side note: One of the reasons I’m mildly fond of summer is it is SO MUCH EASIER to get the kids out the door. Sandals on, check! And out we go. These cold months mean we/they have to put on more accessories than Carrie Bradshaw.
Is this easier for SAHMs? Are they less harried trying to get small people fed and out the door? I wish I could make a batch of fresh whole-grain pancakes and let my kids have a leisurely meal. But every minute I’m late means an extra minute I have to make up at the end of the workday, when I would much rather be home. To be fair, my boss is totally cool and couldn’t give a tiny rat’s tushy about what time I come and go. At this point, it’s all just permanently ingrained in me to rush to work because of previous jobs.
Mid-morning, 9:15 am: I scurry from my cubicle to the restroom on the other side of the office (my desk is LITERALLY the farthest from the restroom, which is usually a good thing, but once every five weeks sucks), clutching my feminine-hygiene products up my sleeve because I forgot to put on pants with more than ornamental pockets. All the while, I’m trying to appear friendly but busy/unavailable to co-workers I pass in the hall because I have an urgent matter at hand. And I’ll be doing this about every two hours because I’m #blessed with an ultra heavy flow. What’s that saying about not being given more than you can handle?
What I wouldn’t give to be a SAHM and be able to do this in the comfort of home. And when I need to perform a wardrobe change, actually having clean clothing available instead of trying to covertly cover up for the next several hours.
Lunchtime, 12:30 pm: I forgot my lunch and have no spare money to buy food. I guess I’m subsisting on two-cracker packs of Saltines and the week-old cucumber I just remembered I left here. I wish I could be a SAHM just so I could have my kosher salt and crushed red pepper instead of tiny packets of iodized table salt and ancient not-at-all-freshly-cracked black pepper.
Mid-afternoon, 3:00 pm: I could use a nap right about now, even if it was lying on the couch while my kids pile stuffed animals on top of me. There’s only a 20% chance that if I fall asleep on my desk, someone will walk by and hear snoring. This is about the time of day when I start counting down until I get to go home and be complained to about dinner (its arrival, its contents, its amount, its vegetable:sugar ratio).
Dinnertime, 6:00 pm: If I get home first, then I’ll probably whip up some pasta and jarred tomato sauce and steam some broccoli. I’ll curse myself for not having bought frozen meatballs or having thought ahead to thaw meat for meatballs. Kids will have to do their homework (assisted by one or both parents) and have baths right after dishes are washed, so I could really use that nap right about now. I pour a glass of wine instead.
Bedtime, 8:00 pm: Kids are tucked in and down (fingers crossed) for the night. I will either go downstairs to exercise for about a half-hour or crawl into bed and turn on some amusing sitcom while I scroll through social media and play a game on my phone. Eyelids are drooping by 9:30, at which time hubby will insist I get out of the warm cocoon of our bed and brush my teeth. Tomorrow is another day to do it all over again.