I worked outside of the home for the first two years of my first born’s life. I put him in daycare when he was five months old along with a couple of bags of frozen pumped milk, formula (just in case), diapers and a change of clothes. I’d arrive early in the morning – around 7am – drop him off with many tears and cried the rest of the way to my office. I picked him up between 5:30 and 6pm, drove home, made dinner, fed him and went forward with the evening.
Life was not easy. I hadn’t known my husband for long before we got pregnant and married (in that order) and it was difficult to adjust to life with someone else. We fought a lot. I was also trying to figure out the business of being a mother and that was no walk in the park. The cherry on the sundae that was my life at that point was my demanding job and my boss that was cloned from The Office.
So, Stay at Home Moms held a place of deep fantasy for me. I was wildly jealous of their lives, having all the time in the world to cook, clean, play appropriately intellectually stimulating games with their offspring and get their postpartum bodies back in shape. Oh my God, I could not bear their whining on Facebook! How Junior didn’t want to play at the park, blah, blah, blah, how hard it was being a mom, yada, yada, yada. “Oh shut it!”, I thought, “you guys have it so good, you don’t know even know what hard is.”
After my second child was born, I quit my job. I was totally psyched, thinking of everything that was finally going to get done – the dishes! The floor! Projects of my very own! I’d master them all! But holy shit, the reality of stay at home life slammed me in the face and knocked me clear out.
I have come to believe that my place was actually cleaner when I was working than it ever has been since. Why? I have about an hour to myself every day, in the morning, before the kids wake up. I could spend that time cleaning I suppose, but that would be total insanity because then I wouldn’t have any time for myself! Like, none. So I use that hour for me and am stuck in perpetuity all day with tidying along after a couple of typhoons. After a while I usually give up. Why bother?
And the dishes? They just about never get fully done. How can they? They moment I have the dishwasher unloaded, someone needs to eat, have a snack, a drink a bottle, something. There are always dishes in the sink. Always.
More than just cleanliness, I had this notion that my shit would somehow come together if I was at home. I’d be able to complete projects of my very own, finish paintings and direct my career into some glorious new trajectory if I could just get away from my boss, my office, my job and into my own space and time. But what I didn’t know then is that I simply swapped bosses – one wearing suspenders and wanting lots of reports about pretty much nothing for two (and then three!) small ones who demanded that I wipe their butts, feed them from my own body, help them nap, soothe their hurts and play with them every frickin’ minute of the day.
This is the part where I feel like I should write something to wrap this up about how being a Stay at Home Mom was so worth it, that even though it is super fucking hard most of the time, I wouldn’t trade it for the world and so forth.
But I can’t say that.
I’m honestly not sure if I did the right thing by quitting my job and I’m not sure if my kids have it any better with me around full time than they did when I was working.
But I do know this for sure: the dishes still aren’t done.