9.13.2010

Amen!

I can't get over this article from the Washington Post. It's perfecton:
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TELL ME ABOUT IT
By Carolyn Hax
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Carolyn:

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—anguage, 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. 


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No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

melmck said...

perfect! that was awesome!

Crazy Lady said...

very well said.

dandee said...

It's funny, somedays I ask MYSELF, "what did I do all day". This article sums it up perfectly.

Ephemeral Evidence said...

Amen

molly said...

Whew, makes me doubly tired just reading what we do. And to think I am about to add to all that with a third, yikes!

Christy said...

Carolyn Hax is just awesome - I've been reading her column for years and this is definitely one of my favorites!

Lee said...

Love this!!

Beth said...

Thank you for sharing!!!

Roberta said...

Oh I love this! I'm no longer a mom with kids at home...and when they were I was on and off in the working world depending on their ages and if my husband could be home when they got home from school, etc. Always was a constant balance. I want to throw the question back to this single person and ask them..."what do they do with their time when they are not working"...because when I did work all's I ever heard was about their fun night on the town. They had no domestic skills or motivation. When it came time for pot-luck dinners or birthday parties in the office...NO ONE cooked...they'd run to the grocery store deli and buy food or a cake...ugh! None of them washed/dried/ironed their clothes...took them to the cleaners; same with driving their cars to the "hand-wash only" carwashes. Manners were a thing of the past...like responding to invitations or arriving on time to personal functions...let alone hand-writing and mailing a "thank you" note...nothing boils my butter more than when you buy someone a birthday, wedding or holiday gift and they send you an email thank-you note!
No...I found many single co-workers to be selfish and energy draining...with no pay off what so ever...as compared to being a parent ;) I'll take the sleepy. sticky, good-morning hug n'kiss of my child over the mopey, grumpy, hung-over and dragged my ass out of bed to come to work(the world revolves around me) single co-worker any day ;)

KatieJ said...

haha! That IS what I do all day! I need to print this out and save it for those days I find myself wondering what the heck I did all day... I'm glad all my friends have kids now, I think I can totally understand how someone without kids might think that way though, but anyone with kids would know. Even the moms that have to go to work get it! Thanks for sharing!

Maria said...

I love this article - I actually saw it a year or so ago. I found it so true and perfectly put that I printed it off and stuck it on my fridge for me as a little pick me up whenever I am feeling overwhelmed. Which seems to be often - life with 5 kids can tend to get a bit hectic. :)

{april kennedy} said...

So both of my kiddos are at school during the day now and I'm still home. Hmmmm...what do I do with my time now?!

Well, I listed it all out for my hubby today just because I had to figure it out.....cleaned the masterbath which lead to cleaning out the master bathroom cupboard and medicine cabinet, which lead to cleaning out the medicine bin in the hall closet. Worked in the home office for our construction business, answered telephone calls, checked a few blogs, pulled the garbage bins in, washed and folded four loads of laundry. Watched one episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' while folding, ran to the school to bring Kaia a history paper that she left at home accidently, ate lunch (tuna fish sandwich), thought about dinner, printed a favorite quote to hang in my office about reminding myself how I want to treat my children, addressed the mail. Unloaded, loaded, ran the dishwasher and then unloaded the dishwasher and then went to pick up the kids to start the second half of my day.

the only thing different was...that I was all alone while doing all those things and it is kind of heavenly. but I do love the kids home in the afternoon or on a sick day!

So AMEN...even from a stay at home mommy with both kids in school!

Ali said...

My old boss, who has 2 small kids, asked me the same question when I first decided to stay home with the Luke. "She looked me right in the eye and said, "What do you DO all day?"

She had an "easy" infant that slept, a husband that was home and a mother that was available to watch her kids whenever. I had a husband who was gone all the time, a fussy baby that NEVER slept, and a mom who would come sometimes to help. I went through the who laundry list of stuff just like in the article and was annoyed that I had to explain myself to someone I thought was my friend and someone I expected to understand.

Rachel said...

Ha! Awesome. As a working mom who spends 9 hrs away from my children a day, I APPRECIATE the care, love, and attention they receive from their numerous care providers. The list goes on and on from teachers, to grand parents, to friends, to day care providers....basically the village that helps me raise my children. I would never ever belittle them by asking the question....so...what DO you do all day? It takes an enormous amount of time energy and care to provide during the day which I cannot. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Jacqueline said...

I'm a single mom and I work full time. My friends without children never ask or hint or imply that they don't understand how much time and effort it takes to raise a kid. But they're pretty great like that. It's funny because now as a mother of a 2 year old I think about stay at home moms and think to myself "HOW do they do it!?" I would go stark. raving. mad. I actually like going to work! It's a BREAK for me. But one thing is always constant...I can't wait to pick her up in the evenings. So I salute you SAHM's!