I had several thoughts about what to title this post.
I just wanna be a "stay at home wife."
Thoughts from a working mom.
What is a working mom?
Aren't all moms working?
The guilt. Should I feel it? Because I don't.
Do you have any idea what I am about to write? No? That's why it was so hard to pick a good title.
After spending two weeks off work, I would like to say that I have had a lot of time to think. And write. And clean. And rest. And watch TV.
But I didn't.
Because while I was off for those two weeks, so were Chad and Brooklyn. And Jake was home 75% of the time. And that equals a busy two weeks. Not to mention Christmas and all.
I enjoy working outside the home. A lot. I enjoy making money, because I enjoy spending money. And, let's face it, as a teacher, Chad doesn't make enough for us to both spend. :-) I also enjoy my office. I love the people I work with, I believe in what my company does, and I believe that my job has value. But I LOVE my office because I have a door...that closes. And doesn't open unless people knock. So, whenever I need to accomplish something, I have the choice to close my door. And it stays shut.
And I can use the bathroom by myself. Without interruption.
I know, amazing, huh?
But, as a mother, I do feel a tug to want to stay home with my children in their younger years. I love them so much and want to witness every moment of their childhood.
But, then we have a two week vacation, and I am reminded why I work.
When I am home with the kids for long weekends, or snow days, or holidays, why am I exhausted? Why do I get frustrated? Shouldn't I be thrilled to have this extra time with them? I spent some time (maybe in the shower when I was semi-alone) over the holidays mulling this over.
I shouldn't feel guilty for loving my life the way it is. I shouldn't feel guilty for enjoying the fact that they go to school everyday, and I go to work. I shouldn't be confused as to why "extra days" all day at home exhaust me.
Because it's not part of our normal daily routine. And kids thrive on routine.
When Brooklyn was a baby, she only napped at school. She napped on a mat, by herself, for hours. But at home on the weekends, we would spend forever trying to rock her to sleep in a bathroom with the fan on for white noise, and then one of us would have to lay down with her in our bed to keep her asleep. I have to say, I didn't really care that much when she gave up naps. That was three hours of our day back. I just thought we did something "wrong" with Brooklyn and somehow missed the nap train.
Fast forward a few years. Jake was a great napper. He was at home (or Aunt Patty's house) for the first 6 months of his life. He slept in his bed for naps. He took pretty decent ones. Then, he transitioned to school and did great there, too. At about 8 months, he moved from the crib to the mat. And he did great at school.
But then he stopped napping at home in his bed. And the cycle started again. Refusing to nap at home = rocking in front of the TV and then laying down with me in our bed.
Then, it dawned on me. For 5 continuous days, Jake sleeps on the floor, with a teacher patting his back, with his friends, with special music. Then, on Saturdays, we look at him and expect him to just happily climb in his crib and nap mid-day. A break in routine. He's confused, he's lonely, and then he just gets pissed.
And then nap time is over.
So, we try to accomodate him. We shoot for the same time of day (12-ish), but we snuggle and love and cuddle. And we nap beside him. So he's not lonely.
And though I don't get anything done for 45 minutes to 2.5 hours (he's very unpredictable), I do get to read a few pages of Harry Potter. And watch my beautiful sleeping son.
So, back to the long days at home. 5 days at school- where he has friends to play with non-stop in a child-proof, age appropriate setting, where they bring him meals at a teeny table and he sits in a teeny chair, and where he naps on his own mat in his same spot everyday.
If I were a stay at home mom, I am sure that I would still have days when I am exhausted. Positive. I read the blogs, and I have many friends who are stay at home moms. I believe that if that's what makes them happiest, then I support them 100%. It's a decision that only you can make for yourself, and I definitely see the same value in both "pathways."
But, back to if I were a stay at home mom. Jake would have a completely different routine. His day to day life would be much different than it is now. And it would be a 7 day a week cycle. Not a 2 on, 5 off. He would nap in his bed...probably most of the time. He would learn to play by himself...at least some of the time. We would join a playgroup. And our house would be child-proof.
Our house is not really child-proofed. Brooklyn was 3 1/2 when we moved. We added a gate to the top of the stairs and thought that was good. Since Jake has become mobile, I put a few locks on the fireplace, the wine cabinet, and the bathroom cabinets (OK, they have hair rubber bands, but they do the trick for now), and the ottoman blocks the bottom of the stairs. So, consequently, we spend a lot of time chasing Jake and getting him out of trouble. And we also have to do other things that don't get done during the week...boring stuff like bill paying, bathroom cleaning, and picture hanging. Which all leaves us pretty worn out. And leaves Brooklyn bored and also wanting attention. And she's pretty vocal when she needs attention. (Again, a child used to having friends around her 5 days a week since she was 8 weeks old = a child that does not entertain herself easily.)
No time to do much of anything else.
And speaking of doing anything else (are you guys still even reading this? I am usually much more organized with my thoughts!)...
Did you know that sometimes I leave work at 5 and go straight home? I work 2 miles from Jake, but sometimes Chad will go by and get him so that I can get home and start dinner. That way, when the three of them walk in the door, dinner is ready, and we can all eat together. I may even have time to throw in a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher. But there is probably not time in there to change clothes. That would be asking a lot.
Did you know that I don't work Fridays, but I send Jake to school anyway?
And I don't feel guilty.
Sometimes on Fridays, I get to grocery shop, clean the house, organize clutter, and do everything else that didn't get done Saturday-Thursday. But sometimes, I have appointments or obligations. Each week is different. But I do enjoy my Fridays.
I tell Chad I would make a perfect "stay at home wife." We could send the kids to school everyday, but I could do all the house and wife duties at home uninterrupted. Maybe if we win the lottery....
And if we do win the lottery, I will pay someone to come child-proof my new, huge mansion.
And hire someone to clean it weekly.
And cook my dinners.
And then I would spend all my free time playing with my kids.
After they come home from school.