In honor of the first day of school, I’d like to address the concept of “But what do you do all day?” which is something often asked stay at home moms (SAHMs as the internet refers to them...because WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO SPELL THIS SHIT OUT FOR YOU!). I am a SAHM almost all the time (I teach one class on Saturdays which has been on summer hiatus). I miss teaching full time so much but know that a life of never, EVER being alone for ten hours a day is not the life for me at the moment. I’m super duper thankful to be able to stay home during this time.
Not being accusatory at all, a friend of mine asked the age-old question, “What do you do all day?” She wasn’t being malicious or judgmental the way a lot of people are who ask that question of women who “just” stay home. She was curious. So…here it is. WHAT I DO ALL DAY (an amalgamation of a random Tuesday):
6:10: Doctor wakes up for work. My boobs feel like ROCKS because Her Ladyship Booberry has deigned to sleep nine hours straight because she is the greatest creature that ever lived. I ask him to check on Boo because she’s taken to sleeping directly on her face and I am worried she has suffocated and died. He informs me she is still alive and goes to shower. Either the noise, light, or passage of time wakes up Booberry who flips herself back onto her back and smacks her head on the side of the crib. So I go in there, change her, and nurse her off Hambone (lefty, the dominant one) which is difficult because of my rock hard boobie and overactive let down. I fill Boo’s ear with milk as she unlatches and I dissolve into swearing trying to get her back on. I am thankful she doesn’t know how to repeat words yet. She eats really fast now and soon I am a lopsided Picasso so I give her a binky and plop her in the crib while I pee (because I haven’t done that for nine hours) and then pump Flippy (the right, less dominant one).
6:45: Join the Doctor for breakfast in the kitchen. I am winning today because I remembered to make him a lunch and it’s in the fridge (if I don’t make him a lunch, he eats tacos or Little Caesar’s Hot and Ready). Before you commend me on my domesticity, let me tell you, his lunch consisted of: pizza from Friday night, carrot sticks which were already in the bag, a prepackaged thing of hummus, a yogurt, an apple, and two packs of fruit snacks. Not exactly gourmet. Boo happily plays in her exersaucer and laughs uproariously at Ruby who is staring her down from her perch on the counter (she gets ONE section of counter and NO I do not prepare food on that section).
7:10: Doctor leaves for work and I put Boo in the boppy (so far there has been binky, boppy, and exersaucer…the baby CRAP terminology could fill its own lexicon) and sing “Let it Go” (because it is ALWAYS in my head) to her while I put away the laundry I washed three days ago.
8:00: Boo rubs her eyes so I feed her and put her in the swing (baby depository #4 if you count crib). I wash pump parts while I wait for her to fall asleep. Then I come down to the basement and exercise. JUST KIDDING. I go on facebook and, in the case of today, blog. I did do a youtube exercise video two days ago, but I’m still too sore to go back. Repeatedly and obsessively sneak back upstairs and check on Boo who is totally fine but I’m convinced is going to somehow fall out of the swing (she’s strapped in) and suffocate.
8:30: wipe down Boo’s toys which I haven’t done in several days. Maybeeee do dishes. Maaaaaybe fold laundry. Read mom blogs and Portland parenting facebook articles. Get dressed (into gym clothes).
9:30: Boo wakes up in the swing giggling and wiggling. Feed her, change her, dress her, eat a snack (Kind bar chased with a few random chocolate chips), fill water bottle, put crap in car, put on minimal makeup because I look a little diseased, try to put my hair up but it’s too short, while she sits in the vibrating chair in the bathroom (device #5). Put her in carseat (#6). Go to car. Get gas. Also get coffee at the coffee stand that has Stumptown Cold Brew. CHUG IT. Feel awesome.
10:00: MOM WALK! I have been lucky enough to meet really nice mom friends who I get along with besides the fact that we have same-age kids. We walk in the park and talk about our current obsession which lately has been sleep training (new topic from milk over/under supply issues). Sweat excessively. Boo naps intermittently.
12:00: Smoothie. Feel guilty for going out for coffee and also now “lunch” because I have no job and could make both coffee and smoothies at home but I DIDN’T because I’m so, so hot and sweaty and probably badly sun burnt because I forgot sunscreen AGAIN and also I really want to keep socializing with the moms because parenting is a form of loneliness in which you are never alone. Feed Boo under a nursing cover and drip sweat all over her. Use nursing cover to wipe sweat.
1:00: Home. Shower while Boo sits in the chair and play peekaboo with the shower curtain. Get dressed (into different gym clothes). Eat another kind bar and a string cheese while making faces at her as she sits in the bumbo (#7). Go to the living room and let her roll around on the floor which, in lieu of a rug, is adorned with one and a half (found a half on the street and thoroughly scrubbed it) of those giant foam puzzle pieces. She starts fussing so we snuggle and I read her Peter Pan for a little while (in a British accent) but she gets bored and sleepy. Change diaper.
2:30: Boo is fussing and in need of a solid nap so I take her into the basement and turn on Netflix while I nurse her. She laughs manically at me which is adorable and a sign that she is super tired.
3:00: She falls asleep in my arms and I let her stay there because it’s kinda my favorite thing in the whole world to hold a sweet, sleeping little Boo and also, if I try to “nap train” her and put her in her crib, she will become wide awake and start playing with her feet for the entirety of nap time. Also, I kinda want to watch TV…
5:30: Doctor comes home and I have not made dinner or even thought about what I would make for dinner which is fine because he got Little Caesars’ Hot and Ready so he’s good to go so I “accidentally” wake up Boo because I’m starving and my bladder might explode and the Doctor snuggles her and I go up and heat up something that came in a bag from Trader Joes (thank you, world, for Trader Joe’s) and eat the whole thing out of a bowl while we finish whatever Parks and Recreation episode I was watching and then we go play with Boo on the floor mat for a while and I go to the gym (JUST KIDDING…I almost never do) and, if it’s nice, the Doctor straps Boo into the Ergo (#8) and we walk around the block and she falls asleep and then we come home and feed her avocado/breast milk which is hilarious.
7:00: “Bedtime Routine” starts. Bath if it’s bath night. The Doctor does this mostly by himself because I have determined it would be good “bonding” for them. During bath I lay out pjs and hopefully make Doctor’s lunch and check facebook. Then pjs and I snuggle her while he reads her a story in our bed. Then I take her to her room and nurse her in the rocking chair and then try to put her down.
8:30: She won’t let me put her down without waking up fully and crying like I’ve abandoned her and so I know she’s overtired and I have failed yet again to get her to bed before she’s become overtired and curse myself as a parent and then get over it because I WANT TO LIVE MY LIIIIIIFE and then nurse her again even though she doesn’t need it and text the Doctor to tag me out. He takes her and shushes her while I lie listlessly in bed and go on facebook.
8:35: She’s sound asleep in her crib doing the Rocky pose on her back because the Doctor is AWESOME (and doesn’t smell like food). I give the Doctor a short neck rub because that’s the deal if he gets her to sleep successfully and we watch an episode of something and he rubs my feet because he’s cute.
9:30: The Doctor is sound asleep and snoring in his chair and Boo has woken up, turned onto her face, and put herself back to sleep. So I wake up the Doctor and we go to bed but we forgot to feed the cats so he gets up and then I forgot my water so I go get it and then we get into a discussion about how long it will be before everyone is cyborgs and, did he lock the door? So he goes to check and Boo wakes up an little and I freak out but she’s just mantra crying not really crying and goes back to sleep. I read a chapter of my library book on sleep training (which defines mantra crying).
10:30: Fall into a dreamless slumber.
4:00: My boobs hurt. What time is it? Booberry is still asleep on her face. Is she dead? No, probably not. Should I check? Try not to check. Go back to sleep.
6:10: NEW DAY.
No, not every day is the same. Every day she does something new and I have a different errand or activity. It was a touch easier when she was a newborn who slept on the go, but she’s so much more fun now. Would I miss her terribly if I were at work? Yes. Do I miss work? Yes. Do I want to go back to work? Hell. No. This is fun. Doesn’t it sound fun?
The part the average, childless person doesn’t see is the parts that make it amazing. Holding her while she trusts me so immensely and sleeps deeper than she ever does on her own. That won’t last. Her deep laugh whenever I make a goofy face at her. That won’t happen when she’s in school. Her intense concentration when I show her how to pet Ruby without pulling out clumps of hair (Ruby is a good pet). There will be a day when she doesn’t want to learn from me. Singing her a lullaby that my mother would have sung to me were she not so tone deaf as I rock her to sleep at night (and then fail). That won’t happen in a year. Seeing her face light up when The Doctor walks in the door. That look of surprise will fade once object permanence truly sets in.
I used to leave my house at 6:45 to get to school and I’d get home near 6. This is the second school year where I haven’t been there on the first day. Last year I was unemployed and newly preggo. Every day I’m not a classroom teacher, I try to remind myself to think of all the hours in between and all I did with her. I try to think of the working parents who are happy to have the time in the world of adults during working hours, and how much they much look forward to the little moments at the end of the day that, on paper, seem so simple and probably boring.
Sometimes I think of Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth. When he was at home, he wanted to be at school. When he was at school, he wanted to be at home. I think, after a quarter of a century in a school setting, I’m finally ready to let Milo’s attitude go and live in the moment. (Let it gooooooo, let it gooooo).
Because someday we’ll all be cyborgs anyway…