Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I never meant to be a working mom. Still, I have dreams of being a stay/work at home mom if/when there's ever a child number two. But something occured to me this morning.

My mother-in-law, who watches my son during the day, is sick today. So am I - in fact, I'd already had serious thoughts of calling in sick today, even before she called in sick herself and solidified that decision for me. I laid in bed with the little one to help him sleep longer while I read a bit until he woke up, later than usual. And he immediately hurt my feelings, saying that he didn't want to spend the day with me, he wanted to spend the day with Mamo.

It had upset his routine. He's three. I get that.

We played a bit in bed before I was absolutely starving and got up to make breakfast. While I was cooking, after we ate, and in the rest of the day since, I realized that my routine has been upset as well.

That was a pretty startling realization, actually, because what it showed me was that, since taking care of my son, by myself, all day long, during a weekday, is not my routine, I'm really not sure how to do it. What do you do with a three year old all day long? I know how to parent in the two hours or so between getting home from work and getting him ready for bed, and I know how to parent on the weekends in the rush of getting chores caught up from the busy week preceding, but apparently, I realized, I have no idea how to be a stay at home mom for just a single day.

This is where the justifications kicked in, all the reasons that couldn't really be it and that today was an exception, not an indication of a lack of parenting skills.

I'm sick today, and it's harder to be an involved parent when your head aches, your chest tickles when you breathe, and your nose is stuffy and raw. Anyone's patience is thinner when they're not feeling well, so of course the constant sound that accompanies a verbose three year old is getting on my nerves; I wouldn't always want him to be quieter, it's just that I'm sick. I'm only extra busy with chores today because it's so rare to have time during the week to do any of them; I wouldn't be ignoring my kid(s) for chores every day if I were home with them every day.

This just isn't our routine.

And perhaps staying home with Mommy during the day wouldn't be such a novelty to him, either, if it were an everyday thing. Maybe he would want some space instead of taking advantage of the ability to have constant Mommy attention.

It just makes me wonder what kind of a relationship I would have with my son if things had worked out differently. It bothers me, as a mommy, to realize that taking care of my son is out of my routine.

Dont' get me on my soapbox about how America is the only civilized country whose mothers are ripped away from their babies at 6 weeks or 3 months after birth, because the productivity and the status quo and the almighty dollar are given more importance than family. Or the tangent soapbox about how 6-12 weeks of maternity leave don't really give American babies the chance to breastfeed for as long as the WHO recommends. Or the other tangent soapbox about my disappointment that it is normal in our society for someone else to be raising our children for us, save for the few hours after work and busy weekends. Or the seemingly-opposite soapbox about how parents aren't given realistic expectations as to what it will be like to take care of a new baby or raise a child, that they are told it should be happy all the time and they should be able to do it themselves when really, parenting can be very frustrating and the more help you can find, the better!

Because I have a lot of those soapboxes.

And a lot of them would just lead me back to being very sad at realizing that I really wasn't sure what to do with my son, for one whole day at home together, because it's outside of both our routines.


parenting ad absurdum said...

We are all doing are best, and we all wonder if we can be doing better, but it really sounds to me like you are doing it beautifully. (And though I spend the majority of my time home with my kids - the days often feel like they get thrown at me out of left field...)


A Place to be Me said...

I can totally relate to this! Thanks for writing it!

Dia said...

The girls keep themselves pretty occupied. It's my job just to step in and point them in the right direction from time to time. Okay, time for puzzles! Time for coloring! Time for play dough! Time to make animal noises! I'm just here to give them ideas, and snuggles when they want them. They're their own independent little people.

But yes, it does suck when you're sick, or when you want Me Time. I get no time off. When Nathan is sick, he gets to take a day off from work and school and rest. When I'm sick, the girls are usually both sick, too. And Nathan is at work or school, so there's no one to help.

Sometimes, just going to the grocery store by myself feels like a mini-vacation. :/

But there's plenty of payoff. It really is worth it. The routine happens.

As always, I sure wish you were my next-door neighbor. That's part of the problem, you know. Okay, yes, that you're not my neighbor! But also that women don't support each other enough. How can they, when they're all so busy working? We're freakin' exhausted! And as a SAHM, I struggle daily with isolation and loneliness. Oh, America. Ur doin it rong.

There's always Costa Rica. Just sayin'. ;)

Anyway, it's a good thing you didn't get up on that soapbox, because I'd jump right up there with you, and we'd make quite a scene.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

First of all - I love your header! I have a secret shame of not really understanding or working well with typeface, so I'm awe of those who do! (I mean, people can visit my website and easily see that, so not a great secret.) But I think you are being too hard on yourself - any day out of routine will be harder and I'm positive that if you'd all been sick a week, by that Friday you and your son would have settled into a peaceful routine.