Friday, December 7, 2012

Awkward Mom vs. Homemaking

A battle 5 years in the making; brace yourself.
Might wanna brace your expectations too. The battle may be colossal. But the post? Well, she wrote most of it in her head, on the way home from the Henry Ford Museum.
Low-ball the expectations, just a thought.

Super Preschooler will be 5 next February, and with this milestone of his, I reach a milestone of my own. 5 years as a stay-at-home mom. Which we all know involves very little staying at home, but that is beside the point and a whole other post. I am not here to debate the reality of what staying at home (i.e. running all over town) looks like. I am here to talk about the philosophical implications of this vocation of mine that is now nearly half a decade old. Basically mopey, moody moans, so, if you are way too in the holiday spirit to mess with that, skip to the end; there is an awesomely awkward photo of the Supers in feeted-pajamas!

If my recent posts are any indication, I am struggling a little with my role in this family and my identity as a woman. You know, little things. In case you guys don't know this, Awkward Dad is about halfway finished with his medical residency. This makes me a doctor's wife. That is what I am these days. Oh, and mother to our three children. Doctor's wife and mother of three. Starting to feel like 1953 over here....You see, this wasn't my plan. I wanted to work. I wanted to change the world. I wanted it all. And that is, of course, exactly what I have, when I take the time to actually look around and not just be mopey, moany, and moody.

Now, this post is not going to be about about how staying at home is harder than working a paying job. It isn't harder. Oh, did you hear that sound, Readers? That was the sound of every stay at home mom ever slamming the door and kicking me out of the staying at home club. Whatever, I am gonna tell you the truth. It isn't harder. I have worked a paying job, Readers, and, my memories, though getting further into the haze of everything before children, aren't all that hot. Work is hard. Answering to a boss is hard. Reviews are hard. Getting up every morning and going somewhere for 8plus hours is hard. Doing all that, while leaving your children in the care of someone else is damn near impossible. And some woman have to do that every day. I am not one of them. I am fortunate to stay at home with our children. I make my own hours. I can go to work in jeans every day of my life. I can take a 2 hour break in the middle of the day, as long as the DVD player is working. I can put my boss in a time-out if I don't like the review he gives me. Is this because Awkward Dad and I made some sacrifices? Is this because Awkward Dad works ridiculously hard? Is this because we are incredibly lucky? Yes. To all of it. It is a privilege to be able to stay at home with my children, and I do not find it harder than working a paying job.

However, this post is also not going to be about how staying at home is a picnic in the sunshine with the Care Bears and My Little Ponies frolicking through rainbows and sugar-plum dreams. Mostly because that sounds horrifying. But also, just because staying at home isn't harder than going to work doesn't mean that it is easy. I go days without talking to adults. I changed 18 diapers yesterday alone. I have to read the same book over and over and over, complete with goofy voices. I have to remember how to spell at the drop of a hat. I have to watch every word that comes out of my mouth. As much as I joke, Netflix isn't raising my children. I am. I am the sole person responsible for getting these 3 human beings to adulthood in one piece and with as little therapy as possible. If that isn't pressure, I don't know what is.

No, staying at home is not a Care Bear picnic. And that doesn't even begin to touch the homemaking aspect of my day. I can clean; I don't love it, but I can do it. We run into problems when I try to cook. I don't think I have blogged about my lack of kitchen prowess lately, and, if that entire box of Vanilla Wafers that Super Toddler just ate is any indication, it is probably time. I don't excel in the culinary arts. Awkward Dad does, which is why it is such a pity that he isn't the one cooking around here, but the man is working 12-15 hours days and is so sleep deprived that he is leaving his laundry in the middle of the living room. Wait, he was doing that before! Oh well, he is still too tired and cooking falls to me. All the home stuff is currently falling to me, hence, my 5 year battle with it.

So, I have told you what this post is not. What exactly is this post about? Well, if you guys figure that out, please let me know. I went to the Henry Ford museum today, the Supers are playing the same singing Christmas toy over and over and over, and I seem to be out of chocolate. I can't remember what I was talking about, but I think it is like Gilligan's Island. Come on, Readers, come down the rabbit hole with me. You see, it is like your vocation or calling. You are called to be a mom, right? Or a teacher, or a nun, or a financial planner. Whatever it is, you feel a calling to do something with your life. This call happens and then you listen to it and then what? Well, Calling pulls a Skipper and sacks out in a hammock and you Gilligan it up trying to build a boat or financially plan or whatever. And Calling/Skipper acts all surprised when you can't figure it out and he hits you with his hat. If Calling would do more than shout occasional stuff from the safety of his hammock or if Calling was at least the Professor, I would have better luck being a stay-at-home mom. Makes sense to me.

I wasn't planning on this. I wasn't one of those girls who knew they wanted children. Those girls, who turn into women who know exactly what they are going to do with those children. My children got here and I just held them. And stared at them. I loved them like it was going out of style, but I didn't have the slightest plan for them. Just held them and waited for the revelation of what to do with them to hit. I am still waiting.

Wanna know why I am still waiting, Readers? Well, I can't read the parenting books. I can't pick a method. I can't homeschool. I can't get excited about Elf on the Shelf or Pinterest or making my own Play Dough. I can't cook. I don't clean well. I can't make homemade wreathes for our door. I can't take artful photos of my children. I can't bake. I can't sing. I can't sew elaborate costumes. I can't. I have failed staying at home, and as I have shared with you, (thereby kissing my support system goodbye) it isn't harder than working, so what exactly is the problem here?

The thing is this: all those can'ts up there are really won'ts. I am just not interested in "traditional stay at home stuff." Yes, I know there is really no such thing, but we live in the digital age, Readers. (That is kinda how you are reading this right now.) I go online and I feel like I am assaulted by the right way to stay-at-home. I feel like I am being told left and right how to stay-at-home, and we all know how well I react to being told what to do. I feel like it is right there in front of me: the right crafty homey happy healthy natural upbeat positive elaborate wonderful interesting creative thoughtful environmentally-conscious beautiful perfect way to stay-at-home. Ah, there it is. There you are. My nemesis; Prefect Mom. Should have known that she would be behind this.

I am not perfect. I am awkward. That has got to be painfully obvious to just about everyone by now. I could say that it is because I can't be perfect; that I am too flawed and too messy and too whatever, but that isn't true. The reality is that I won't be perfect. I find perfect boring, pompous, and more work than actually working. Basically, I think perfect is just not healthy for any child who is trying to make a way for his/herself in a world that is anything but perfect.

So, I return to my earlier thought, I really do have it all. I am working. I am changing the world. And I have been for 5 years. In my working life, I was a social worker. (Well, after a foray into costume design that may be one of my only contributions to Super Preschooler's personality.) 
"Social work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and well being of an individual, group, or community." (Wikipedia. Hence the different color text that I can't get rid of now. And yes, I have donated to them this week.) Well, lookie here. It appears that I may still be a social worker after all. And I will tell you this; if the only thing that I ever achieve in my life is to improve the lives and well beings of the three children in my care to the point that they enter the world as kind, responsible, funny, and loving adults who are intent on improving the lives and well beings of those they share that world with, then I will homemake all the day long. Might even learn to cook a little too.
Yeah, we'll see about that, don't wanna get ahead of ourselves now....
Saint Nicholas visited us yesterday, and, since I don't have any daughters in need of a dowry, he left Skittles instead. Seems reasonable.


  1. Ok, I know this post wasn't meant to be funny, did you know I just pinned a recipe for homemade playdough onto Pinterest? LMAO!! In my defense, though, I'm not trying to be a Perfect Mom, it's just that the recipe seemed within my VERY limited cooking skills. Plus, crafty stuff has always interested me, since I was Super P's age. Nothing to do with being a mom.

    You have NOT failed staying at home! If you ask me, it's the Perfect Moms who are failing, because they're so wrapped up in being perfect that they're failing to do what you're doing: just holding their children and loving the dickens out of them. Isn't that what it's all about?

    Keep up the awesome work! (And would you be offended, as an actual credentialed social worker, if I called my work "social work" too? 'Coz it totally is!)

    1. I am sure your playdough will be pinable! And if you love crafty stuff, I think that is awesome. I am just tired of feigning an interest in it. I like to look at it and on occasion buy someone else's crafty wares, but I am not doing it. I am just not.

      You are such a great blogger, I am honored to have you read my stuff. And yes, you do social work too, credentialed or not. I deem it so, I think I have that power, and if I don't the social workers can take it up with me!

  2. I had a coworker who would often tell me I "will make a man very happy one day," and "you'll be such a happy homemaker when you have kids," because I enjoy cooking and sewing and shared these hobbies by occasionally bring fresh baked goodies to work and making crafts for my Church bazaar. I always found these remarks to be offensive. I think these talents and hobbies are separate from homemaking... and I may have a guest post here for you because I could go on for a while about this.

    1. Love the guest post! I wish all my posts inspired guest posts by such amazing writers!

  3. My favorite line is the one about you know how well I take it when someone tells me what to do. Your father tells me that all the time - we don't like bosses and we are always hardest on ourselves. Loved your blog. Mom

    1. Well, it is nice to know that I come by my defiance honestly. :)