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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Explain your Life to an Outsider

Did you know I had more sanity when I was a working mom? My house wasn't as clean (and as you know, it's no prize right now, anyway), I felt as if I would break at any point. There was no relief.

Except I had a 45-minute commute each way. I thought, I listened to music, I went over my day, straightened my thoughts, talked to friends and family. I had an hour and a half of highway driving all to myself.

What a glorious gift.

I thought often during those rides about how awesome my life would be if I could only be a stay at home mom. My housework would get done. My kids would be played with (God, I missed my kids). And I'd have so much time. I'd have an extra nine hours a day. With all that time every single day, how could things not be perfect?

Boy, was I wrong. I could try to sum it up, but I can never find the right words to explain why I can't keep everything immaculate, be clean and pretty, bake things, domestic goddess style, with two little cherubs who are never misbehaved because they get all the attention and love they need.

This woman did a pretty good job, so I'll leave it to her:

I'm not sure if that image will work with my set up, so here's the link to a public facebook share of this column.

The most important point? The one I always forget and overlook? It takes 45 minutes to do what takes others 15 minutes. And that's being conservative. I would venture to say a 15-minute long task takes me an hour and a half.

As an example, this morning, I took a shower. The kids only interrupted me three times, and never for fighting. It was amazing. They'd bust in, tear open the curtain, hand me something or make a joke and go away. I'm hoping against hope that this is the beginning of a new era.

Previously, I could only take a shower late at night after they went to bed. If I tried during nap, it woke them up. If I tried while they were awake, even with my husband home, they'd badger and bother me the whole time, either making me take them with me and wash them too, or trying to hand me soap and shampoo and play with my razors. It was not relaxing. It was not cleansing. It was hard work. A shower. Hard work.

Not only is this mind-boggling, it's frustrating as hell. So that by the time you're done with your 90-minute chore (whatever it may be), you're no longer on top of your life, the invincible housewife, getting it done. You're haggard, upset, disheveled and wondering why you even bothered to try doing that duty in the first place.

This can be an ugly spiral. So, yes, the childless person who wrote that question, you can do all those things and work a nine-hour job. I can't. It's true. Way to stick the pin in even harder. Like I said, I can't explain it. I can only say that it's different, and it's harder and, yeah, a lot of the time I hate it, and I especially hate how alienating it is to my childless friends. But it's worth it. It's worth it, and it won't last like this forever. It can't, right? I mean even this morning I was able to take real-person shower. Like a real person. A shower.


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  1. Totally true. The 15 minute thing is really the key. When I'm leaving the house by myself (say, on physical therapy mornings when I get up and everyone else is asleep), I am up, dressed, teeth brushed, face washed, breakfast eaten, etc and out the door in 20 minutes...without rushing. When I'm getting the kids ready for school, we get up at 7 and are scrambling for the door at 8:30 with forgotten coats or sharing time toys, or someone didn't eat breakfast or someone chose flip flops in winter instead of real shoes. I don't sit down once, not even to eat my own breakfast. It all just takes longer...a lot longer!

  2. Wow, only three interruptions, you must feel so clean and refreshed !~!~ HAHA.

    People without kids will NEVER understand how it works when we are taking care of kids all day. That's all right-they will also never know the inimitable joy and satisfaction we get when the little woober looks up and smiles after saying thanks without the prompt. It's what we live for and that's as it should be. You are doing a great job, keep on keeping on.

    1. yes please! i just hate that whole,,busy busy..reason ppl a stat at home mom. i worked up until a few years ago. as a cashier or in nursing. my older gurls are 8 and 6 now. i can take a shower w them. usually. they can watch tv w/o fighting while i clean after dinner. now my seconds set of kids (2 and and 2 months) no. but they to will grow..

  3. Amen, Amen, Amen! I am not a SAHM but I am a teacher who has 2 weeks home during Christmas break and Summer vacations. I am just thankful I have a job to go back to after these "long" breaks. I am a much better mom when I work. Bless you!



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