“Work at Home,” They Said

I sit to type this on a momentous day: the first Friday my newly-christened Kindergartener does not have school.

I spent half an hour typing that opening sentence.

Why? Why would it take so long to type ONE SENTENCE? For those who don’t have children at home right now -laying on your shoulder, touching your touchscreen laptop, eating toast onto your head, and whining, “What should I doooooo?”- you have no clue.

No, not even if you have a cat. Or cats.

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Not that cats aren’t cute…

“Mom, guess what? Once, when I was playing Minecraft, Brother#1 made me go up a lava fall and I popped up under a villager’s house.”

Yes, my five-year-old literally just interrupted me to tell me that. Getting half a page typed before that isn’t bad; probably because he was eating toast. Yes, onto my head.

In my unicorns-and-going-to-the-bathroom-alone dreams, I keep thinking I can have it both ways: raise the kids AND work from home.

Like most people who live, breathe, eat, shower, and occasionally sleep; I need money to fund my lavish habits. We’re lucky that my husband has been the breadwinner for all the time we’ve had children. However; since we also have children who live, breathe, eat, sleep, and occasionally shower; I’ve picked up a side job here and there to help.

“Guess what a mothership is supposed to be? …A mother in a ship.”

Now we’re onto Starcraft 2, a computer game involving war in space.

*Sigh* Maybe we’ll have nap time today.

Maybe I’ll stay awake during it.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

“Mom, What Can I Do?”

My five-year-old has a habit, lately, of laying on me and asking, “What can I dooooooo?”

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The boy can self-play. He can group-play. He can understand complex games and is beginning to read. But I hadn’t realized, in my ignorance, that he’s developing normal childhood things like attachments, fears, and desires for acceptance. Besides those, he is the youngest child and normally has three other miniature people to play with.

When he’s stuck at home with just me, then, his options are limited to what I’ve planned. And that’s usually Wal-mart.

Yay.

Or dishes, laundry, bathrooms, floors, yard work….

Double-yay.

Perhaps due to my usual daily activities, The Bored One is an excellent worker. He comes along to the store, enjoys helping with dishes or toilets, and likes showing me how strong he is pushing his little wheelbarrow outside.

When I’m just sitting with my laptop, though, he does not know what to do. He can’t help with Mom saying, “I need to focus for 30 minutes.” Even if I hand him a coloring or activity book or an entire marble works set, he wants my attention -the very attention I wanted for writing.

So… this is the point at which I remember my priorities.

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I set the laptop aside and play a game with him. We build a tower for the marbles. Together, we draw or paint or color.

I know that some parents need to work from home. Some can’t afford day care. I also know that the work can get done and there is still time for a game. It’s what’s most important, right?

 

Photo Credit:
Magdalena Smolnicka
Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay
Paige Cody

A House(work) at War

The kitchen floor detests my mop;
It’s been on strike all year.
The great room carpet, as you see,
Has developed vacuum fears.

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Meanwhile, the toilets, yellowed raw
Fear brush and boy alike;
While nearby sink and faucet friends
See sponge and yell out, “Yikes!”

The piles and piles (and piles) upstairs
Of clothes shy from my hand.
Our blankets, sheets, and pillowed beds
Won’t lay as I demand.

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And so, you see, oh dearest spouse
I’ve tried hard as hard can be.
One simply cannot fight a house
Nor law of entropy.

 

Photo Credit:
The Creative Exchange
Tracey Hocking

So You Wanna Help a Mother, Do Ya?

-Mothers have a tough job.

-I have never worked so hard in my life as I did as a stay-at-home-mother.

-Motherhood is underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated.

-If you added up the salaries of every job a mother does, you still wouldn’t compensate her for a day’s work.

-I know I couldn’t do it.

I’ve heard a few commiserating comments about motherhood in my day. They’re scattered here and there amongst the glares when my children scream, or the *tsk* *tsk* looks when I reprimand the screaming, or the slight lift of nose-in-air as they walk by with their dressed and not-brawling children.

When I’ve had brain and time to think, however, I can’t help but wonder: if motherhood is so great, why don’t you do it? You could all support it, at least.

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Instead, I feel abandoned. I feel I sit in the muddy gutter of life with my little, half-me guttersnipes and get shown exactly what the negative voice inside says:

-Your children are monsters, and it’s because of you.

-The house is a mess; guess who gets to clean it forevermore?

-Don’t raise your kids this waythat way, or -for heaven’s sake!- that other way or you will screw up their entire future.

-Besides raising decent humans, keeping floors spotless, maintaining bills, finding everyone’s lost pants, and feeding the local inhabitants; you must also be cheerful, inspirational, encouraging, loving, and a whole person.

-If you are sad and depressed, it’s because you simply don’t believe in you.

Some parents (again, with brain and time to think) lobby for government support to fill the gaps. They ask for extended maternity leaves, an in-home nanny, free preschool, and childcare centers at workplaces. That’s all well and good and job-saving, but is not the real answer.

The real answer is always more difficult. It’s not a bill to pass nor a wad of money to throw. I believe the answer is a need for actual, hands-on, real-life support.

Think about my idea in relation to other problems that don’t go away with a friendly comment; like needing help with moving house, requiring an organ donation, or being trapped beneath a fallen timber at a logging camp. Does it help that poor lumberjack for his workmates to pass by, smile in commiseration, and say, “Been there, mate. Bit of a rough spot, eh?,” and keep walking?

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In the same way, it does little to tell a mother who is struggling to restrain her toddler at the grocery store that, “Mothers have a tough job.” I think she’s aware of it at that point.

I don’t mean to make anyone feel too shy to speak up at all. Instead, I suggest alternate reactions based on what a few, kind souls have actually done for me:

If commenting is your thing; try what an older couple did. A grandmotherly woman and her husband approached me in the grocery store and said, “You are a wonderful mother. You may not feel like it some days, but I know it and I know your boys know it.”

Another time, a fellow mom came up to me in the parking lot while I was putting children and groceries into the car. “Can I take your shopping cart for you?” she asked. Receiving a nod since I couldn’t manage much else, she smiled and pushed hers and mine over to the return.

Twice now when we were on vacation, an older man at the breakfast table near ours said something like, “What fine boys you are! I’ll bet you help your mom out, don’t you?” Then, he dug into his wallet and handed each of my boys a silver dollar.

Not only have these behaviors actually improved my spirits and helped me to feel supported, they have been examples to my children. There’s an old adage that it takes a village to raise a child; one that many people look over in these technological times. Thing is, that adage is still true. As much as I try to micromanage my children’s behavior, they simply do not listen to only me. Sometimes they do not listen to me at all.

Occasionally a boy will come home, bursting with a lesson taught at school, on fire with how it’s changed his thinking. It’s a lesson I’ve tried to hammer into his head before -but do I resent the teacher for it? A bit. Still, it’s more than worth biting my tongue because my son learned it.

If you want to support a mother, do so. Oftentimes we parents are hesitant to receive help because of child-molester fears or judging-my-parenting fears. Don’t worry; start small. Work on turning the judgy face into a sincere smile. Think about offering a hand or an honest compliment. Remember your own childhood or your own children.

And, if you’re feeling really generous, I’m open for that in-home nanny or wad of cash as well.

 

Photo Credits:
Sharon McCutcheon
Luz Fuertes
Markus Spiske

What Do You Do All Day?

What do you do all day?

When I was a young mom, a childhood friend asked me this. I understand that the question is among the Top Ten mothers hear, but it was the first time someone had literally asked me.

My friend had been working and going to school. She was genuinely curious about what filled my time each day since I did not have a job outside the home.

At the time, I really didn’t do much. I say that now because I …just barely sat down to eat lunch and it’s 2:30 p.m. I feel lucky that I showered this morning before everyone awoke.

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So… what do I do all day?

Just for kicks, let’s break today’s schedule down so far:

Night before: stayed up late to do my online homework after staying up late helping my second son start work on complete his science fair project.

3:00 a.m. Woke the five-year-old up to go potty because he’s had two nighttime accidents.

5:00 a.m. Woke to tell my alarm that was way too early. Went back to sleep without recalling this conversation.

6:00 a.m. Got up and showered.

6:30 a.m. – 8:10 a.m. A haze of getting four children and a husband up, going, breakfasted, clothed, up again, going again, thanking the wonderful husband for making lunches, breakfasting again, reminding boys to brush teeth, finding shoes, thanking the wonderful husband for gluing pictures and a header onto a trifold board, getting them all out to the car, and finding my coat and keys.

8:30ish a.m. Arrived at school and helped two boys carry their extras into said school.

9:00 a.m. Left school to run errands.

12:30 p.m. Came back home from errands to post office, grocery store, pharmacy, library, and pharmacy again.

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Fed Five whilst putting away groceries and distracting him with “Curious George” cartoons.

1:40 p.m. Ignored loud ‘napping’ noises upstairs as I finally made my lunch.

2:00 p.m. Updated monthly calendar on wall with appointments and dinner plans (for three days so far! Woot!).

2:15 p.m. Sat to eat my lunch and type a blog post.

In addition: told my oldest son who called that I am not going to pick him up early from school because he’s bored.

The rest of the day is just as busy; with karate lessons, cub scouts (for the boys and for me because I’m a den leader), dinner, computer time, homework, baths or showers, bedtime, and bed.

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If you are still with me, then you can see that being a mother is busy. You probably also saw that it is mind-numbingly dull. I mean, I lived this schedule and my brain skipped as many lines as it could in reading over it.

Another, later time that I was asked The Question:

What do you do all day?

I came up with a metaphorIt’s like you’ve been assigned to keep a pot of water almost-boiling on the stove all day. You need to make sure the pot doesn’t actually boil, so you have to watch it and can’t really do anything else diverting.

I think raising a toddler is a lot like this, especially if he or she has dropped The Nap. You have to watch the toddler all the time to be certain he or she doesn’t start a fire, but any attempts to do other things lead to fires.

Now that I am older and have older (and more) children, the scenario of the pot is still true. On top of that, though; I also need to mop the floor around the stove, allow others to maintain their own pots without interfering too much, snap at them for fighting over shared space around the stove, and squeeze another pan on there for making dinner.

Having been a stay at home mother for the duration of these child-rearing years, I have a question for the parents who work on top of all that:

What do you do all day, and how the heck do you do it??

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