This has been posted on facebook but if you haven't read it--you MUST. If you are a husband or childless person that wonders why stay-at-home mothers are so busy, PLEASE read. And if you are a mother--this should make you feel better. I always look back on my day and say, "What did I do today?" I never even get a quarter of the way through my to-do lists. You would think that since I don't have an "official" job I would be sitting around watching TV, reading books, and lounging all day. Um, no.

Thank you Carolyn Hax for putting it in perspective!


By Carolyn Hax

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 


Best friend has child. 

Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. 

Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? 

Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy—not a bad thing at all—but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions. 

Tacoma, Wash.

"Internet Searches?" "Relax and enjoy?" You're funny.

Or you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything—language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, ortellme@washpost.com.


Nataluscious said...

She does sum it up well. I particularly like the part where she talks about the debate of a short-term help to yourself, while facing long-term consequences. I think I struggled with that for a long time. It does get easier though Christina - I can vouch for that! :) But little kids drain you in a way that nothing - not work, not traffic, not standing in lines, not bills, not technical support in India, not running a marathon - no nothing does.

Jenn said...

THANK YOU CHRISTINA! You made my week. I have never been able to put into words what it is exactly that I do all day, which to others pretty much means that I sit around and do nothing. Finally, somebody eloquently said it!! Life is crazy, ridiculous, exhausting, and yet...I never feel like I accomplish anything.

Katie Stacey said...

This is awesome. It's so hard to list exactly what I do all day and this says it perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

Tobi said...

I love when she talks about slamming her head into the keyboard. That's how I feel sometimes. Like being a stay at home mom is a cop out and everyone thinks you should be doing more.

And I love what Natalucious said about children being more draining than technical support in India. HILARIOUS!!