“You’re so lucky.” “I could never do what you do.” “You must have an amazing relationship with your kids.” “I’m not sure I’d feel valuable staying home.” “I would love to be able to be home after school.” “Do you get bored? I mean, with nothing to do?”
Stay-At-Home Mom Slumps
I’ve been fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom for over 9 years now. I gave my previous Employer notice while approximately 8 months pregnant with my second kiddo after having decided with my husband that there were various reasons to quit. I vividly remember my last day at work, as it’s practically imprinted on my mind like my wedding day and the births of my children, though slightly less painful. I’ve often thought back to that day, last paycheck in hand, my bag stuffed with greeting cards from coworkers promising monthly coffee dates and well wishes. I remember leaning against the trunk of my car and taking a deep breath, feeling both an exhilaration at my sudden freedom and fear of what was to come.
Honestly, I had no idea what I had signed up for.
The first few years were spent raising a toddler and baby with very little time to shower. Hell, I was lucky if I managed time to swipe deodorant on my pits. (Yes, my husband was a very lucky man.) Days were spent sanitizing bottles, changing diapers and reassembling Tupperware drawers strewn about the kitchen floor. I could have used about 75 more hours in the day…maybe then I could have fit in a little more personal hygiene.
And then things slowed down a bit. School started and along with it many a volunteer opportunity. I schlepped through soggy pumpkin patches, learned about mushrooms and tree species, attended PTA meetings, and timed reading tests in the classroom. I still had plenty of cleaning up to do around home but like any professional athlete, I got good at it.
And then things slowed down quite a bit more. Homework promised to take more of my time but being that I have apparently forgotten everything that involves knowing something, that became fleeting as Math got harder. I mean, Common Core…amirite?
And here we are. I’m still a stay-at-home mom. I still clean up after people. Diapers are no longer filling up my trash cans but underpants and sweaty socks have taken over my laundry basket. I approach chores like a warrior about to do battle. I’m faster. More efficient. Sometimes my meals even feature fancier ingredients like leeks and tarragon. I even made homemade cream of chicken soup one time. I mean, did you even know you could do that? I sure didn’t before I found myself with all kinds of extra time.
Enter a period in time I lovingly refer to as “the Stay-at-Home Mom Slumps.” They’re not babies anymore, sticking forks into electrical outlets or throwing their sweet potatoes. Their needs now run more along the lines of requesting cash or a ride to a friend’s house. I might even get lucky enough to accompany them on a field trip here or there or pick them up from a practice or two. Finding myself with less hands-on mommy chores can leave me feeling a little lost, leave me wondering what it is I’m actually doing here not earning a paycheck. And like anything that requires questioning and analyzing your value, it can throw me into a slump. Kind of like a month’s-long “case of the Mondays.” (Office Space anyone? “I’m going to need those TPS reports…mmmkay?”)
The goal when navigating through the “Slumps” is focusing on the purpose, the stay-at-home end game. As tasks and necessities change, although the scope of the purpose can vary, the purpose remains the same. To be here. Whether it’s the morning rush to get kids out the door, an occasional fever needing some momma love or the spontaneous after school run to Dutch Bros for smoothies, the purpose doesn’t change. I’m here, ready to pounce. And they know that I am. I suppose therein lies the value. Availability.
So I trudge forward, waiting for the need. As for all my burgeoning extra time, maybe I’ll take up a new hobby. I’m thinking basket weaving could be fruitful and potentially useful. I’m sure the middle schooler would be totes up for replacing her backpack with a lovingly weaved basket.