Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Do You Do All Day?

I frequently visit the hilarious and informative Boston Baby Mama blog, and her post today about being a SAHM received a comment with a link to this article in The Washington Post. It's SO dead on and so validating and so perfect of a way to respond to the question that I just had to share. Too bad it isn't longer, to include everything else we do on top of raising children, like running the home, balancing the checkbook & cutting costs, exercise and health, ...


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.

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.

Internet searches?

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.


  1. HOLYFREAKINGAMEN! :) :) Mind if I re-post this on my blog? :)

  2. haha, I LOVE this! I posted it on my blog awhile ago, it's perfect :)

  3. Oh man that gives Washington a bad name. lame.

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

    And another AMEN: constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

    Last week Eddie mentioned that sometimes he thinks I only ask for help because it's something I'd rather have HIM do, not something I genuinely need help with. Uh-huh. I'll spare you the gruesome details on how the rest of that day went.

    Other random yet relevant you know that I actually do not remember the last time that I took a shower unassisted by a munchkin with a love for smashing toes with shampoo bottles? Night-time is my only 'me' time, but I can't shower at night. Munchkin is a light sleeper. Running water wakes her. And then I spend 2 hours of 'me' time gently patting her little butt to calm her down. Which shortens the 3 hour break between bedtime and midnight teething scream-frenzies...which may not even exist because Eddie sleeps through them.

    *Goes back to popping bonbons*

  5. Wow. I have to admit, that was very well put. I give a hearty two thumbs up and a giant hug to all stay at home moms. I have the deepest respect for all of you and have felt that way since my daughter was born. I work full-time out of the house, but am mommy full-time on the weekends.

    I would go insane if I had to be a stay at home mom 24/7 simply because there IS NO me time. On the weekends, I am Mommy, not Jennifer, not friend, not pen pal, not wife, I am Mommy until baby goes to bed.... if I'm lucky. Sadly, I have to admit being thankful for daycare and relieved when I go to work on Mondays. I love my daughter deeply and truly love spending time with her, but I need time away and I freely admit that. Work is my time away and it allows me to be me for a while. Stay at home moms are AMAZING and I wish I had their fortitude and stamina. Anyone who says otherwise should be knocked upside the head with a sledgehammer.... just saying.

  6. That is great! I hadn't seen it before and I loved it.
    Came over from SITS to say hi.

  7. This is hilarious and completely my life! I totally agree with the "takes 45 mins to do something that normally takes 15" I used to get things done so fast - now it's slow and steady!

    We all need to give each other more credit, be supportive, and stop with the competitiveness.

    Love this!

  8. Oh my goodness!! I love the post!! It totally takes me 45 minutes to do things that used to take me 15! I HATE that but wouldn't trade it for the world!

    Thanks for sharing it with us!!


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