Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Stay At Home Mom Myth

A Ahh I've been a blog slacker. Truth be told I've had lots of things to write about, but not enough time in the day to write them down. If only I had something that could pull all the thoughts out of my head for me. On the days where I have had some magical downtime I've been too tired to even move much less form a comprehensive sentence. It has been a good busy though. Summer brings more activities. We spend a lot of time at the pool. The kids are entertained, sun is good for everyone's mood, and as a bonus my house stays clean since we are outside. We have had VBS, summer movie clubhouse, swim lessons, summer day camps and cheer/tumble class. The kids have been lucky to spend time with grandparents swimming, making ice cream, discovering unknown bugs, cows, horses, goats, and their personal favorite, donkeys. Most days I can't figure out why I am so tired and then I realize somehow it's already 5:00 and it's time to start dinner preparation. 


Climbing the rock wall at summer sports camp

Finding things at home to get in to

Swimming at Mimi's

Learning to cook with Neah
Teaching Neah had to kick back and relax

Swinging with Pawpaw
4th of July in the country

I'll never forget when I was working and even before I became pregnant with Claire I would often run errands on my lunch. I would go to the grocery store or the post office or wherever and inevitably I would see a mom with preschool age kids. The mom would be in her gym clothes and I would think to myself how lucky she was to have a husband who made a gazillion dollars a year and she got to go to the gym and fly around all day with her kids without a care in the world. The other day I was out with the kids running my 15th errand of the day, in my gym clothes with my preschool age kids. The kids were being typical kids and I'm telling the oldest one "no" for the 12th time that she can't have whatever thing has caught her eye and trying to keep one hand on the youngest who in a Houdini like way has learned to escape the shopping cart no matter how tightly I buckle him in. All the while fumbling to see if my coupon matches whatever item I'm needing to buy. As I am driving home exhausted and really wishing lunch would make itself it dawns on me that those who saw us out and about who don't know me may have that same vision I had of stay at home moms just 4 short years ago. Yes, I know I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids, but my husband doesn't make a gazillion dollars a year (hence the coupon). We cut corners, we have gone through the budget a hundred times chipping away unnecessary expenses. We say "no" to certain events and outings because at that time in the month the money just isn't there. Before we do any outing we check for coupons or groupons to see if we can find a better deal. We rarely eat out and when we do refer back to the coupons I mentioned above. It is by the grace of God that we are able to survive and live comfortably on one income. We don't drive new cars (mine is 8.5 years old). Eric's is new only because the company gave it to him. I wear my contacts a little longer than I should to help stretch the box. When Eric was working at a store he packed his lunch (not always happily), but he never went hungry. I shop eBay and consignment sales for most of the kids clothes and when I do buy new it's usually because I find it on severe clearance. Not luxuriously, but God always provides. In fact over the past almost 4 years that we have lived on one income it has been amazing to see how God has made bills get paid that on paper should have never been able to be paid. So if you ever ask us to come do something and we politely decline please don't take it personally. Most likely it is because we didn't budget that outing. 

Something else I used to wonder was "what in the world do Moms who stay home do ALL day"?! Please don't laugh at me. I mean I knew they cared for their kids and I knew they took care of housework, but I can clean an entire house in 2 hours a week. Kids require a certain amount of care, but surely there are breaks of nothingness. The Mom in me laughs at my childless self. I will never forget planning for my maternity leave with Claire (maternity leave has now lasted almost 4 years ha). One thing I did was call my TV provider at the time and see if they were running any free channel promotions to help entertain me with all the free time I was about to acquire staying home with a new baby. Score! They would give me free premium movie channels for 3 months! I bragged to me coworkers when I hung up the phone (It is important to note all the coworkers near me were guys or childless) that I had 3 months of free movie channels and it was perfect because I was taking 3 months off and since I was going to have so much free time this would help me from being bored. They all nodded their head in eager agreement. I remember when those 3 months were up I had to call and cancel to keep from being charged the next month (sneaky TV people) and I felt so gyped. I literally had not watched one movie. As Moms quickly learn there is no such thing as down time. A task that should only take 30 minutes to complete can somehow take all day (or longer). That load of laundry ends up being rewashed because it never made it to the dryer and is now sour. Or a miracle occurs and you are so proud of yourself because you not only got the floors clean but also the laundry done. Only to discover that while you were finishing the laundry those clean floors are no longer clean and the little people and the dog came back in the house have tracked in half the back yard. Then hubby comes home and wonders what you did all day because the house looks like a tornado happened, but you are too exhausted to care. For example the other morning Claire was at camp and I was home for a short while with only one child. My mind was spinning on the way home with all the things I was going to accomplish since I only had one tiny human to attend to. Things started off well. I got a load of laundry folded and another started and cleaned the master bathroom. Luke was wondering around playing with various toys and occasionally checking to see what I was up to. I had moved on to clean the guest bathroom and as I finished and was celebrating that the bathrooms were cleaned I discovered why my son was so quiet for the past 5 minutes. To clean toilets I use a Clorox wand and those refill pads. I had thrown away the one I used to clean the master bathroom only to discover my 18 month old had pulled it out and was recleaning my toilet. If that wasn't bad enough he was squeezing the suds out of the pad and rubbing them on his head in between "scrubbing" the toilet. 

Off to the bathtub he went. This wasn't a time where a simple wipe down would even help. Well, if cleaning the floor and the baby wasn't enough the dog, who has congestive heart failure and in his host of meds takes a diuretic that happens to make him pee all the time had an accident. Off to clean the floor for the millionth time. 

This last week was another doozy. One morning all I did literally all I did was clean up one mess after the other. I would get Claire settled and Luke would be in the dog bowl throwing food everywhere. Notice his spoon as evidence he had been there and car laying not far behind. 
That mess was cleaned and the dog had another accident. While cleaning up that accident Claire helped herself to something and accidentally knocked over a glass and broke it. By lunch time this is how we all felt.

My point is that over the past 4 years I have learned some days keeping everyone alive is an accomplishment and others you can celebrate that you accomplished a full load of laundry, but at the end of it all I don't regret I may not keep the house as perfect as Eric would like. I don't regret reading one more story or holding the baby a little more than I should. Their childhood is so short. 


  1. I read something somewhere that really put motherhood & the worry of keeping a house clean all the time perspective in check for me. Would you rather have clean dishes - or a kid who can recite the alphabet? Would you rather have mopped floors - or a child who knows how to ride a bike? Would you rather have the floor vacuumed or a kid who looks up to you and thanks you for playing a board game with them when they were feeling bad?
    I'm not a SAHM but I can remember thinking of all the free time I would have while I was on maternity leave - I laugh at myself too and how wrong I was! Haha. Remembering that these years I am with my kids are more important than getting ALL the housework done and that article I read really helped Alfred understand too why it's not as easy as someone without the majority of childcare responsibilities would think.
    You're doing a wonderful job Julie - I love reading your posts and seeing how happy & fantastic your children are. Eric has a great family.

  2. Thanks Tamara! (Somehow your comment just showed up on my end)!