Being a stay-at-home mom has taught me more than anything else in my life ever has or likely ever will. It has also allowed me many rather unfortunate opportunities to give less-enlightened individuals a lesson or two on just how “fun” and “easy” it is to have a job working 24 hours a day for two unpredictable, extremely needy bosses. For no actual pay.
Since ending my career as an elementary teacher, I have been told by people close to me (who should know better), family members, and pseudo-feminist authors that staying home with kids is the easy thing to do. Easier than continuing to work; much more fun and carefree than remaining a “productive member of society.” Right. The hardest part about staying home is deciding which flavor of bon bon to pull out of the box and which trash tv show to glue myself to.
Imagine going to apply for a job and being handed a job description for the position of stay-at-home mom. The job will require you to be either actively working or on call for roughly 27 hours each day. Can’t find that many hours in a day? Guess you’ll need to get creative with the mountains of laundry you’re going to be doing, the three meals each day plus numerous snacks and the dishes they leave behind, the toys left piled in corners you didn’t even know your house had.
And did I mention your new bosses can’t care for themselves very well? You’ll need to fix all their meals for them, plan their schedules and then argue over those schedules every ten minutes, chauffer them all around town, and even help them wipe their smelliest bits. And you can’t leave them. Not for a bathroom break (they’ll be there to keep you company and remind you you’re not yet off the clock), not for a meal alone (you’ll quickly learn to eat with one hand while standing at the counter), not even to sleep (your boss likes to make sure he knows where you are if he needs help in the middle of the night.
Now, imagine you’re completely unprepared and have no prior experience for this job, and the product goal for this chosen career is a functional, kind, well-rounded and responsible adult human. That you are supposed to be creating through your own ingenuity and modeling as a parent with impossible expectations. That’s a lot of pressure if you’re doing it right.
Luckily, being a stay-at-home mom has the added bonus of enjoying your little bosses when they’re not crabby or pooping or hitting – snuggling when they’re sick or reading books when they want quiet time. You get to see the progress of your lifelong people-growing project as it unfolds in the tiny moments each day, and an “I love you” or a proud accomplishment for your child is a paycheck you probably wouldn’t trade for a monetary one.
But please don’t ever tell me anything about being a stay-at-home mom is easy, or that it isn’t socially productive. It’s rewarding, sure, and I would’ve taken it on even if I’d known the job description to begin with. And just for the record, I’m pretty sure I’ve never even eaten a bon bon.