This post was first published on philstar.com’s Unblogged. I’m sharing it here in my blog for my Wifely Steps family. This is for all the work-at-home and stay-at-home Moms who feel they’re misunderstood. Cheers!
We were having a quiet lunch and I was complaining to my friend how I didn’t have time for myself anymore. She looked at me square in the face and asked, “But aren’t you a stay-at-home mother?” I nodded, raising my own fork instinctively as she put hers down. “Then you must have at least some time for yourself,” she insisted. “After all, you don’t do much all day, do you?”
It took every amount of energy I had not to hurl my fork across the table. I calmed myself down thinking silently to myself that no, she didn’t understand because she’s not a mother. No, she didn’t understand because she doesn’t run around all day chasing a toddler. Her words stung. There I was relishing what little time off I had from Toddlerville when that question was, well, innocently, thrown at me. I realize now that her question was borne out of curiosity more than sarcasm, but at that very moment my fork could have made quite the weapon.
The corporate world was my life for twelve years. When motherhood came my way, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, especially during my son’s first years. It’s been six months since I’ve resigned, but every day I am challenged in a totally different yet still dynamic setup. I tell you: Nothing compares to the challenges a stay-at-home mom faces every single day, every single hour. It’s just as (if not more) dynamic, tedious and tiring, only you can wear pajamas and go barefoot all day.
“I take care of the baby,” I replied in a tentative tone. How else could I answer the question? Do I tell my friend a typical day in the life of this mother? Waking up when the baby does. Playing in bed before we go down for breakfast. Preparing breakfast. Having breakfast. (Have you tried feeding what could be the world’s pickiest eater? If that doesn’t drain your energy, I don’t know what will.) Cleaning up after breakfast. Washing poop. (Have you tried washing the cute butt of what could be the world’s wriggliest baby?) Cleaning up. Bathing baby. (I repeat: Wriggliest) Nursing baby. Teaching baby with building blocks, crayons, cars, crumpled paper, empty tin cans and old socks. Chasing baby around the house (repeat at least ten times throughout the day). Wiping away drool. Wiping away sweat. Fixing the laundry while he stays still for ten minutes watching a DVD. Picking up the toys he throws on the floor so he doesn’t slip on them while running around the house. I haven’t even gotten started on what happens right before lunchtime.
If a stay-at-home mom of one experiences this crazy scenario everyday, what more a mother of two? Three? What more a mother of preschool children, of tweens and teens? What more a mother of all of the above? I don’t want to imagine what their reactions would be when they are thrown the question, “You’re a stay-at-home mother? Then you don’t do much all day, do you?” Let me clear the table of all cutlery before World War Fork begins.
I looked at my friend and repeated, “I take care of the baby.” This time I said it without any trace of apprehension. It filled my heart just saying it again. The day is all about the baby. The days are all about the baby. I’m a stay-at-home mother and proud of it. The few moments I have to myself come when midnight strikes. Call me Cinderella. Midnight is when I begin writing freelance or getting into the shower. The little one consumes majority of 24 hours and I am immensely happy about it. True, I am crazy tired, but it is what it is. We stay-at-home moms are quite the misunderstood lot, aren’t we?
You don’t do much all day, do you? Maybe I should ask my friend to come join me for a day in Toddlerville. For lunch we’ll eat with our hands the way the toddler does. I don’t trust myself with forks just yet.