The word’s stung the second they rolled off your tongue, “but you are with her all day.” They affirmed my assumptions of your interpretation of my role. That you are unaware of my day to day routine as a stay at home mom. That because I am “home,” I must not be busy. That because I see our daughter all day, I have unlimited time to spend with her. That she doesn’t pull at my leg, begging for a moment of my time. That her whine for my attention doesn’t break my heart because I am not wrapped up in other things, like cleaning, preparing dinner, picking up the groceries, dropping off the dry cleaning, switching over the laundry.
Yes, I get to load my phone with pictures of all her firsts. I can easily drop what I am doing to engage in play. I can push these things off to the side and be with our daughter. A luxury I get to have and you can’t because you work. I understand that. But then all of these things wouldn’t get done.
My decision to be a stay at home mom was my own. It was a decision we both discussed and a choice I untimely made for our daughter. A choice that was mine to make. I understand that your job requires you to leave early and sometimes come home late. I understand that your days are jam packed with conference calls, meetings, emails, upon other things. I understand that you are busy, and even though you love spending time with your daughter, you don’t always get to. I understand that you work because you love your job and it supports our little family.
Yes, sometimes I get mad. Sometimes I complain that you come home late, and at times I selfishly make you feel guilty for being gone through out the day. Realistically I know your job is important, and I appreciate everything you do so that I can be “home” to raise our daughter. I understand that you are busy, but do you know that I am busy too?
A few weeks ago, while I was cooking dinner and washing the dishes, I looked on as you sat on the floor with our little girl. You tickled her, made funny noises, played with her blocks and talked with her. My heart smiled, watching you two, but it also ached. It ached because I could only think of the time I did not get to spend with her that day. I recalled her face pressed against the bathroom door gate, whining for me as I scrubbed the sink and toilet. How she cried for me to hold her while I was folding the laundry, how I told her no to playing with her train because we had to get ready to go grocery shopping. I was just too busy.
Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at myself, I decided to skip the cleaning and the errands that day. I would spend time with our daughter. As I laid out my plain to you, I said, “I’m going to play with her all day, for once.”
And then it came. It just slipped out of your mouth, I am sure. I am sure you don’t truly believe that I sit around all day. I like to think that because I am a “Stay at home mom,” that I don’t do nothing all day. I dust the ceiling, I clean the floors, I fold and put away the laundry, I take the dog for a walk, I plan dinner for the week and pick up groceries. I sweep and wipe down, I organize and rearrange. I search for lost toys, I change diapers and wrestle on clothes. I make lunch and administer medication. I clean up poop, vomit, and pee. I run errands. I budget. I wipe teary eyes and calm tantrums. I orchestrate nap time and coordinate lunch time. I am a Stay At Home Mom, but I am busy.
Yes, I am learning to make time to sit with our daughter. My attention to her and play time is important. I know that, but so is cleaning the house and running errands. Sitting with our daughter and teaching her things like shapes and colors is necessary, but so is picking up the groceries and completing the to-list. Encouraging her to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and talk is crucial, but so is a safe and hazard free environment for her to grow up in.
Getting to watch every milestone is a blessing, and an opportunity I don’t take for granted. The decision I made to stay home was an important one for our family. It has it’s perks and it has it’s disadvantages. Yes, I am a Stay At Home Mom, but I am also busy, and like you, sometimes I don’t have as much time to spend with our daughter as I would like. Yes, her main caregiver is an important role, and expanding her mind and encouraging her development is an important task for that role. So I make time to be with her and play with her when I can, but like you, I have a full day packed with important tasks that I need to get done as well.
My concerns of wanting to spend more time with our daughter are legitimate. My desires to want more days on the floor with her are realistic. My frustrations of a packed schedule are real frustrations. Wanting to be the one who makes her giggle is a genuine desire. Yes, I am a stay at home mom, but I am busy too.
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