I frequently get the comment that it must be nice to have the luxury of staying home with my children. I will always smile and say, “Yes, I am very thankful!” and move along. Yes, it’s true, I am thankful, but to be honest I am walking away from the person silently laughing and rolling my eyes. The luxury of staying home? Seriously?? Either these people have never had children that they spend any amount of time interacting with, or it has been too long since their children were young and they have simply forgotten what life with young children is actually like.
Allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine rolling out of bed in the morning after a particularly long and sleepless night. It’s 5:30 and the baby is crying (again), so you go to comfort her. Within minutes, the 7 year old wakes up and loudly bounds out of her room, practically singing “Good morning, Mommy!” (She’s a morning person. Something is very wrong with her.) Her loudly expressed happiness at greeting the new day then wakes the 2 year old who cries for Daddy, but she cannot have Daddy because Daddy is getting ready for work. So, there you are trying to nurse the baby while your 2 year old cries like she just lost her best friend in the world. (Did I mention it’s 5:30 in the morning?) Inevitable, all that ruckus wakes the 3 year old, who is now crying too and wanting to be picked up, but your lap is currently occupied, which leads to even more hysterics from the 3 year old.
Eventually, you get everyone happy with the help of Bubble Guppies and attempt to head downstairs for a cup of coffee when the baby sees you tiptoeing away and begins to holler. So, you make the pot of coffee with the baby on your hip and can’t help but chuckle at the cliche. Before you can even get one sip of the energy-giving nectar, the 2 and 3 year old begin fighting upstairs. You listen for a little while, waiting to see if they will be able to settle the squabble amongst themselves. Then comes the dreaded THUD immediately followed by crying. You fly upstairs and find one child lying flat on the floor, and the other one standing defiantly above her with a baby doll in her arms, and you can only assume that is the item that was the source of all the fighting. The crying one gets up, yanks the doll out of her sister’s arms, which leads to more screaming, and then in an instant they are rolling around on the floor in a full-blown cat fight. You get them separated, discipline, etc. Finally, you remember your cup of coffee, which is now cold. You stick it in the microwave to warm it up, and before it finishes nuking you have another minor catastrophe to contend with. Then the 3 year old announces that she has to go potty, so you take her and find that she has pooped in her underwear. Too bad she pulled her underwear off and climbed on the potty before you could clean her up, so now that’s another lovely mess to clean up.
You get everyone happy, clean, and then head downstairs where everyone is fed breakfast (except you, of course) and then look at the clock and realize it’s time to start school with the 7 year old. And then you remember that cup of coffee. You press the quick start button on the microwave and walk the 7 year old to the school room with the intention of grabbing the coffee as soon as the microwave beeps. You get the oldest situated with her lessons for the day, then head back to the kitchen to pull the baby out of the highchair, only to discover that she has somehow managed to climb out of it herself, and is now sitting in the middle of the table finger painting with her oatmeal, as well as with the bowls of oatmeal that her sisters apparently refused to eat. It’s everywhere. In her hair, all over her clothes, covering the highchair and table, and even some on the walls behind her. (How did she manage to make that big of a mess in, like, 3 minutes??) Guess that coffee will have to wait a little longer. Off to the bath with the baby! And of course, the 2 and 3 year old want to join, so here we are having our evening bath routine at 8 in the morning. Being the young children they are, they make a huge mess, spilling tub water all over the bathroom floor, which you then clean up with towels when they are all done. (Hey, that counts as mopping, right?) You then remember that you still have an oatmeal mess to clean up, so you head down to do that after distracting the kids with Bubble Guppies yet again. (Yes, I am *that* mom.) Once you get downstairs, you hear the oldest in the schoolroom crying. Apparently she had a question about her lesson and you never heard her calling for you while you were bathing the younger 3, so she’s now in the middle of a nuclear meltdown. You get her calm, help her, and then head out to the kitchen to clean up the mess. Then remember your coffee sitting in the microwave. But, before you can even heat it up someone is crying again, so off you go to put out another fire. And another. And another.
Finally, you get everyone down for a nap at 11, finish up lessons with the 7 year old and send her off to play, and sit down to enjoy your cup of coffee and have a quick bite to eat. But the peace is short-lived as the baby decides to cut her nap short. Here we go again.
This is, unfortunately, a true story. This was my day 2 days ago, and is a perfect example of what my life is like every. single. day. Yes, I am thankful to be home with my girls, and yes, this was a choice we made, but please don’t think it’s easy or luxurious. I get pooped on, peed on on, thrown up on, and covered in my kids’ food. I rarely get to enjoy wearing stain-free clothes all day long. Getting a shower two days in a row is so rare, I almost feel guilty when it happens. And using the bathroom in peace? I’ve just given up entirely on that dream. I clean up messes that take hoarders years to achieve that my kids manage to make in 10 minutes flat. I work from morning till night, and then I’m on-call all night, too. It’s not a glamorous job, make no mistake. Is it rewarding? Heck yeah. But it’s also the hardest, most exhausting job I have ever done.
I get so frustrated with the careless comments stay-at-home moms get from others. I’m sure people are mostly well-meaning, but I also think there’s a pervasive mentality behind those works that speaks of our culture’s attitude toward stay-at-home moms. As a SAHM I am told to tiptoe around the feelings of working moms, lest I say something that might offend them or demean what they do. But, yet people can throw out callous, hurtful remarks about me being “just” a SAHM or assume that my life must be luxurious, as though I am sitting on the couch all day watching soap operas while my children somehow stay perpetually happy and care for themselves and never, ever make messes. Look, we ALL are parents, and we ALL work hard, regardless of where we work. I’m not going to belittle moms who work, so please don’t belittle us moms who stay home, because we work too. Let’s just focus on uplifting one another, and try to choose our words a little more carefully, okay? This world would be such a better place to live if we could all simply support and encourage instead of tearing down.