The other day a snippet of an “Ask Annie” type column was floating around Facebook in regards to why mothers never seem to have enough time. You can see the article here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=162617177088360&set=a.162617007088377.43688.150180158332062&type=1&theater
This got me thinking: Why, exactly, am I more stressed now than I ever have been in my entire life, INCLUDING Law School???
The comment in the article that particularly bugs me is the one about what do SAHMs actually DO everyday? “Please no lists of library, grocery store, ect… I do all those things, too”…
Ok, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. Let’s start there.
Childless Woman Goes To the Store Scenario One:
Childless woman opens her fridge. “Oh bummer, out of milk.” She grabs her keys, perhaps a coat, gets in the car and drives. She grabs the milk, maybe some cheese, pays, gets back in her car, drives home. Total Time: 10-30 minutes depending on distance to store.
Childless Woman Goes To Store Scenario Two (aah my former life):
Childless woman opens her fridge. “Oh bummer, out of milk.” She grabs her keys, perhaps a coat, gets in the car and drives. While at the store she gets a text message from friends “Going out for dinner and drinks at 8!” so she adds a bottle of wine or vodka or whatever to her cart (along with the milk) to pregame as she gets ready. At home she showers quickly, or at least redoes her hair and makeup, gets dressed and heads out. After a fabulous time at dinner with her friends she comes home, checks her email, goes to bed. Time: Well, ok all night, but at least she had dinner and drinks with friends!
Mom goes to the Store:
Mom opens her fridge. “CRRAAAAAAAAAAAAP NO MILK! I told DH to buy milk! Didn’t I? Did I put milk on the list?? Oh crap crap crap.” Turns around, views the hurricane damage done to her living room by her kid(s) and announces, “Ok we’re going to the store!” This is met by various “Nos” and possible fleeing from said kid(s). She proceeds to fill her purse with snacks, toys, diapers, wipes, spare clothes, a life raft ect… Puts on her coat, grabs coats for kid(s) (remember kids can’t wear coats in the carseats!), rallies everyone together and, while juggling a baby in one arm, her bag in another, heads out the door. While closing the door she realizes she has left her keys and wallet on the table. Back in she goes, still juggling baby and bag. Now, keys in hand, she locks the door (don’t laugh – this is no simple feat!), takes the kid(s) to the car and gets everyone strapped into their seats. During this time she’s probably whacked someone’s head on the car (or am I the only bad mom?), pinched someone in the car seat with the buckle, been yelled at, lectured to, or has answered any ten of one thousand questions about the store and why they are going and where milk comes from (and no, the answer is not just “cows…”). At this point she’s probably broken into a bit of a sweat, regardless of the weather. She then drives to the store. During the drive she probably hears screaming, crying, laughing, singing, arguing, and a million more pressing questions. If the kid(s) happens to fall asleep, it will be right as she pulls into the parking lot, prompting the tricky game of “should we stay or should we go?” (in other words, stay in the car and let them sleep or head into the store?). If they fall asleep on the way TO the store (score!) she hangs in that delicate balance of changing the radio station to “her music,” which will, inevitably, wake someone up OR *heaven forbid* turn on the radio if it was off in the first place and threaten the sweet, sweet silence…Either way, once the group heads inside the store there will be someone who doesn’t want to sit in the cart or someone who DOES but can’t or someone who needs a snack or someone who hates the store or someone who loves the store and wants to TOUCH EVERYTHING!!!!! At this point mom spends the entire timing diverting attentions, chasing toddlers, picking things up, putting things back, saying “follow me,” “come back here,” “no don’t touch,” “we don’t eat plastic!” or other various mom-like phrases that are structured only with the intention of ruining a kid’s good time. Turns out the checkout line is a mile long, and we all know going through the self-checkout is just a disaster waiting to happen. But that’s ok, at this point Mom doesn’t even know why they’re at the store! So she leaves, group in hand, goes out to the car, buckles everyone in, same story as on the way to the store, gets everyone inside the house, shoes off, coats put away, bag unpacked and goes to open the fridge to start lunch. “Crap, we’re out of milk.”
Total Time: eh, who has time to keep track of that, I have to go to the store!
Basically it boils down to this: anything one person can do on their own in 10 minutes takes at least an hour when you’re doing it kid-in-tow. No, kids aren’t a burden – they’re a real joy! – but they don’t make things easy. I don’t even check my email without getting a headache (no, Miss O, you can’t hit the keyboard, touch the screen, carrying the mouse pad around, take all the papers off my desk, or call a stranger from my phone… and yes, I know this is a great injustice). The other day I was trying to put the dishes in the dishwasher, looked away for a milli-second, and Miss O had put all the (still dirty) dishes away where the clean ones go and put all her (made from recycled milk jug) play dishes in the dishwasher. I appreciate that she helps put dishes away, but you see the dilemma. Moms don’t just “do” things… they explain, they repeat, they slow down, they interpret.
Being a SAHM is like living on a planet where NO ONE speaks your language. You survive merely through loose interpretations, sign language, creative charades, and the occasional foot stomping (hey, I admit, sometimes it’s too much for me ;)). I can’t go into the break room and whine with the other employees about my clients. I get NO break. I promise I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the facts. Imagine sleeping in your office and needing to wake up throughout the night to answer the phone and deal with those same clients at their beck and call. That’s the best way I can describe it.
The biggest difference is: my client gives the deepest hugs and the sweetest kisses and hearing “I lul yoo” is better than any Billboard Greatest Hit.
Ok, apparently O is “stuck”….again….. gotta run! To all the people who made it through – you’re obviously not moms… a mom would have fallen asleep, been needed to divert a crisis in the other room, or would have gotten a pounding headache part way through.. ;) Alright, I jest. ☺
But, yes, person who wrote in asking what SAHMs do all day, kids are definitely an excuse to relax all the time …
I'd love to hear your stories about a funny mothering moment, your life as a Working or SAH Mom, or, ok, even from my childless friends about how glamorous your life is! :)