I promise that this isn’t going to be another manifesto about stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms and work-away-from-home moms. Because really, what I’m about to talk about isn’t about inter-mommy fighting. It’s about the perception of stay-at-home and work-at-home moms in general, by everyone. Because even after almost a year and a half, I still have people who think I am available at a moment’s notice, that I have a surplus of time on my hands, or that I won’t mind if my time is wasted.
And many of those same people also roll their eyes at my insistence on a semblance of a schedule for the day. But you see, I work and raise a baby. To get housework, meal planning, interaction with a baby and my various jobs all done, I need to know I have chunks of time carved out to meet goals. What I do all day is completely doable – and don’t think I’m about to brag or whine. Nor should you think I’m saying I do more than you. I’m saying I do as much as you, and just as you need a schedule to get through the day, so do I. And just like your time is valuable, mine is as well.
So with that in mind, I decided today to keep a sort of running diary of what I was doing. Thanks to my iPhone, I just kept a dialogue on my notes app, and then uploaded it. It was another thing to do today, but I think it is a pretty good representation of a typical Wednesday for us.
7:30 – T leaves for work, and mom duty officially begins.
- First we read “Baby Einstein Touch and Feel Animals” three times in a row. Then John announces, “I POOP HERE,” and points to his butt. We run to the nursery and I clean up some poop.
- Played cars for a while. Playing cars with John involves a lot of retrieving cars from underneath the couch and entertainment center. I haven’t had breakfast yet. I don’t know when I will for sure.
- I grab a couple of dust cloths and our duster and John and I knock out the dusting for the week. He is an excellent baseboard duster.
- After that, I fill up the first snack cup of the day with oyster crackers – his new obsession.
Hey, look. It’s only 8 a.m.
- While John is amusing himself with more cars, I answer emails and check to see if the website is up for a music class I want to enroll him in is up yet. It is not, but I get an email from someone in charge that they got my email, and he’s in. I also manage to review some vendor documents from a client.
- Made the mistake of pretend ramping some Matchbox cars off a book and saying “Yee Haw!” Dukes of Hazard style. I have now been doing that for 10 minutes solid. Repeatedly.
- “Mommy has to go potty,” I tell John. “Me go too!” he says. And that is the story of how all the shampoo bottles ended up in the hallway in front of the office. John hears me pull toilet paper (the kid has bat ears, seriously) and runs into the bathroom again. “I DO DAT!” he screams as he runs over to flush the toilet for me. Some people pay a lot of money for an automatic flush toilet. I just let a surgeon cut me open, pull a baby out, and then waited patiently for him to get old enough to flush for me.
- Time to chase each other down the hall and back. Repeatedly.
- Read Baby Einstein again. Four times. Four MORE times.
- After several months of pushing off backwards on his ride-on car, John suddenly begins riding it forward. Like it was no big deal and he chose not to all this time. What else is he holding out on? Can he really use the restroom and just likes the idea of grown up slaves who will wipe his butt? Can he do taxes? WHAT ELSE, YOUNG MAN?
- John is reading books, so I take the opportunity to start reviewing materials for a discussion I’m supposed to lead in my church mother’s group this month. I have a few minutes to do this before …
- ANOTHER ROUND OF YEEHAW!
Thankfully, five minutes later it’s 9 a.m.
- John is allowed one show all day, and it’s time for that one show. Super Why on Sprout. He yells out random letters and points to words on the screen. Then he dances. It’s also time for a snack – apple slices and water with a splash of fruit juice, which he scarfs up like a refugee at the last rice drop.
- We. Fell. THIS IS A DISASTER. The wailing. The lamentations. The gnashing of the teeth. Oh. You have a phone that plays videos of ME? I feel much better now. Give me your phone, Mom.
- We read. Guess which book?
- John stands and says, “DANCE!” So we turn on the 80s channel and dance. Then we have a fashion montage wherein a toddler tries on many hats.
- John leaves to play in his room for a few minutes, so I take the opportunity to give the kitchen counters a swipe and clean the stove. Finally have breakfast standing at the counter, quietly – slice of cheese, piece of toast, soy milk.
It is really only 10 a.m.
- Back to dancing. The 90s music channel now, because J loves him some Al B. Sure. Stop to put lotion on my hands, which results in a 10 minute lesson in lotion application.
- Now we play catch. Catch also involves me retrieving the ball from underneath the entertainment center twelvety hundred times.
- John runs to play blocks in his room. Before joining him, I empty the dishwasher.
- Walk into the nursery to find his bib drawer and his one piece romper drawer in the middle of the floor, with bibs and rompers strewn about. “What IS this?” I ask. “What is dis?!” John parrots behind me, as if the current state of dishabille was unknown to him until this time, and was the work of some other tiny clothes bomb detonator. So we pick up all the rompers and bibs and put the drawers back in the changing table, naming off the colors of each item as we put it back.
- Diaper change, at the request of the small one. We play blocks. To properly play blocks, you build structures, and then you scream and tear them down. Take notes.
11 a.m. – Lunchtime. The whining is starting, so nap will follow. I heat up some wagon wheel pasta, sauce and meatballs from last night’s dinner. “CARS!” John yells when I bring him his bowl. I supervise the eating of lunch, which is done with fingers AND a fork, while I gather things for dinner tonight. “Done!” I hear from the dining room, and come back to an empty bowl. Since no pasta is on the floor, the table, or in the booster seat, I’m thinking he ate everything. We do our all done/wave the wheat/University of Kansas song humming, then I clean everything up.
11:30 Toss J in his crib with Ugly Dolls and blankets, and turn on his Sleep Sheep. He prefers the heartbeat sound. “Night Night,” I say as I smooth his hair. John licks his hand and then waves with it, which I believe is his version of blowing kisses. I’ll take it.
- With John in bed, I put dinner on to simmer on the stove. We’re having this bean concoction we have every so often. The beans will simmer all afternoon with a can of Rotel and some other spices. I’ll make biscuits (from a can, although, for the record, I can make them from scratch, but THEY COME IN A CAN) right before dinner is to be served.
Noon: I go to the office to do an hour or so of work. Answer emails, talk about an editorial calendar with an editor for a website I write for, look up information for the business blog, and review coupon sites to see if there’s anything new. We are careful with the pennies over here, so I do a lot of coupon clipping and deal hunting. Tuesday’s trip to CVS got us $168 worth of stuff for $100. Last week’s trip to Tom Thumb got us $145 worth of groceries for $85 or so. I’m by no means an expert or a fanatic, but I do spend about half an hour a day at least looking for the best way to use the coupons I clip.
1:30 p.m. Shower! Finally.
1:45 p.m. Throw a load of laundry in the washer, and wash a few dishes that won’t fit in the dishwasher very well.
2 p.m. Like clockwork, John wakes up. Check the diaper, and then fix a snack and heat up some lunch for me. We sit on the couch and eat while listening to music and talking about animals and sounds.
- Dance Party!!!!
- In depth discussion about the colors of his various Matchbox cars. He has a van that is definitely eggplant, but we call it purple. Or “pup-pel” if you’re 16 months old.
- We play with purple Playdoh. Didn’t realize it has glitter in it. Trip to the bathroom for both us to wash our hands, because we look like we just finished a shift at Baby Dolls.
- Work on manners. Actually, we do this all day. We’re not so great with please, but excellent at thank you.
- Soccer! With a baseball.
- 3 p.m. Small person walks up to me and says, “Nack, here!” and points to his tummy. I’m feeling a bit peckish myself, so I pop some popcorn for us to share, and give dinner a stir while I’m up.
- Sit on the couch and eat popcorn while talking about feet. His are small. Mine are big. Daddy’s are the biggest. Mine have blue toenails. His do not.
- Now bellybuttons. Everybody show them off!
- Popcorn is gone, so John slides off the couch and plays cars some more. I read some more of that material for the discussion group. Find purple glitter Playdoh in my cleavage. In all honesty, it looks like Barney motorboated me. This makes me laugh. When I laugh, John laughs, regardless of if he knows the joke. Now it’s just creepy. Go to the bathroom to fish glitter doh out of my bra. John stands next to me and shoves his hand down the neck of his shirt, too.
4 p.m. Home stretch. Add the rice and frozen corn to the beans, check the seasoning, stir.
- Build some stuff with blocks. Destroy block buildings.
- Sit down hard on a pillow and make fart noises with your mouth. LAUGH UPROARIOUSLY.
- “Give me a kiss, please!” I ask John. He obliges. “Give me another!” I beg. “No. One,” he says, sternly.
- Play this game we call bench. It could also be accurately called, “Sit on mommy while she lays on the couch.” To be fair, I do not nap. I lay very still, and then suddenly wiggle and he tries not to fall off. Talons, that young man has.
5 p.m. Turn on the news. Explain why the weather map is all red. “Wed?” he says. “Yes, son,” I reply. It’s what happens in Texas in the summer. And then just when you think everyone will melt, November comes.” He nods, murmuring, “‘bember.”
- Open the door so we can watch for Daddy to arrive. This is a Very. Big. Deal. In fact, I dare not open the door (we have a glass storm door to watch out of) until it is close to time for Daddy’s arrival. One day I made the mistake of opening the door because it was raining and I like to watch rain. Had to watch a very sad boy stand in front of the door for 45 minutes going, “Dad? Dad? Go back Dad. Me!”
- Preheat the oven for the biscuits.
- Daddy’s home! Just in time for me to slide the biscuits in the oven. I cease to exist. Daddy is home! DADDY IS HOME. Who are you again?
6 p.m. Sit down to dinner. John cleans his plate, and eats two biscuits. Make note to check for tapeworm or hollow leg at 18 month checkup.
- Dinner done, Daddy! gives John a bath while I clean up the kitchen and make the bedtime snack. Tonight, a blueberry and banana smoothie with whole milk yogurt and whole milk.
- The boys play in the room and snack. I sit down at the computer to finish this blog post and wrap up some other work.
7 p.m., Tiny comes running in to the office, hiding from Daddy! and imminent bedtime. Full of giggles, he climbs up on my lap and tries to steal my nail file. Daddy! comes in, and I get one final hug, and an actual kiss blowing, not the hand licking affair from earlier. “Night!” he says. He brushes and flosses, then heads to bed. I work for another few minutes, and then join the Hubs on the couch for grown up TV viewing.
So there you go. My day. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But now you know why I also am quite judicious with my “spare” time.