Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins, The New Mommy | Posted on 28-02-2011
Recently, I was in conversation with someone about the various stressors in life. To my surprise, they had a very snarky reaction when I said that I often feel stressed – implying that my life as a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t merit feelings of pressure, anxiety or worry. My reaction was a visceral one. I felt the anger boil from deep within, and I literally began shaking with the utter sadness I felt from being misunderstood, undervalued, and slightly disrespected.
I have thought long and hard about how to clearly convey my thoughts about the unglamorous side of life as a stay-at-home mom. My mind keeps circling back to a column that a friend posted on her Facebook page over a year ago. So, with a little help from Google search, I was able to relocate the original source of the column. I will apologize now, for today’s post is mostly unoriginal – but shares a message that couldn’t be more personal to me.
I also think it’s important for me to say that the hardships of being a stay-at-home-mom are no greater than those of a working mom, or dad, or guardian. My goal in re-posting this writing by Carolyn Hax is not to claim my role is mightier than anyone else’s. In fact, I am still baffled by the balancing act that working mothers must maintain…..how on earth do you work 10 hours a day, completely love your kids up, and find time to do the laundry and grocery shopping? Amazing. My purpose in posting the below is to potentially shift the perspective of anyone else out there who might underestimate the hard work that goes into “playing all day.”
At the end of the day, we all have stress. We just need to remember that no one else’s stress is either greater, or less than, our own – because it’s what we are personally experiencing and living…..it’s all that we know in the moment. Let’s be mindful of what the other is experiencing, and try to broaden our thinking so that we may practice compassion and understanding.
TELL ME ABOUT IT
By Carolyn Hax
The Washington Post
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc.
Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What’d you do today?
Her: Park, play group . . .
Okay. I’ve done Internet searches, I’ve talked to parents. I don’t get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don’t do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I’m asking is: What is a typical day and why don’t moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)?
What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.
Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.
Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.
Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.
I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.
So, since it’s validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form.
When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.