Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"What DO you do?"

Another weekend, another conversation with a friend about “so what DO you do?” I know the internet is flooded with blogs about moms and dads defining what they do all day to people who think we just watch soap operas, but some how I still get asked that. A lot.  I usually just grin. I know people aren’t trying to be mean or judge my choices. They are just curious. Usually the people asking aren’t parents. Usually they are my husband’s young female coworkers (who are all really sweet, by the way). I wonder what THEY do all day, too. I pester my husband with questions about his day all the time, so it is only fair that people ask me about mine. Plus, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I have been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. I know both lifestyles have pros and cons. What works for our family right now is not right for everyone else, and that’s fine with me. That being said, here, for the record, is my day (with a little help from C3PO):

I wake up when Mr. Me gets up to get ready for work. I don’t get up, too, though. Ha. I stopped getting up and making him coffee and breakfast and seeing him off to work years ago. He leaves too stinking early. I just open one eye then stretch out to enjoy getting the whole bed to myself unless the kids are already there until my alarm goes off. Then the real work starts. I get the lunches packed and the girls dressed and listen to endless stories from one and endless anxiety-talk-me-down-pleas from the other for an hour all while being so glad I don’t have to get myself showered and made-up any more. How did I do this when I had to get myself to work, too? Oh, yeah. I was a frazzled mess then, too. Moms just seem to get stuff done. We’re awesome, aren’t we? Then I drive them to school and come home to face the litter box.
And laundry. And vacuuming. And all the other housework. When I worked outside my home, I had fewer cats, the laundry got done in the middle of the night, and the house simply was less messy because no one was home to mess it up. Because the girls and I are home instead of at work or daycare, we make more messes therefore there is more housework for me. See how that works?
Also, I sew. Domestic, right? I chat with my friends. I rest when my headaches are really bad or when my back is really bad. I keep track of the family finances. I text my husband. I watch the news.

Then when school is over, I pick up the girls and do all the things a nanny would get paid to do (one of the things that used to annoy me about judgey people asking me what I do). I feed them, help them with their homework, take them to hockey, gymnastics, or whatever else it is they have going on. We go to the playground. We play Monopoly. We do science experiments. We talk about life, psychology, current events, philosophy, literary criticism, politics (ok, not so much politics, but some day). We cook dinner together, and I try to convince the younger one to eat something other than noodles and ketchup (rarely succeeding). Then baths, stories, and bedtime. Then I sit back, watch tv or read, or just chat with my husband until we fall asleep.

It all seems totally normal and not extraordinary to me, but I understand how to someone else it is a different sort of life. One of my husband’s friends asked me how I make friends if I am always with the girls which just proves how foreign my normal life can be to someone. Through all that, I am interacting with other moms and nannies and babysitters and dads and adults. We are all hanging out in the same places on a regular basis and get to know each other and friendships form. We aren’t hanging out in bars sipping martinis after work, but we do have standing dates at the ice house sipping hot cocoa each week.

It might not sound like fun to everyone, but it works for me and my family. As long as people don’t follow up the “what do you do” question with some annoying statement such as, “you know, it isn’t healthy to have the girls be your whole world,” or, “don’t you think that sets a bad example for your daughters, you know, by you not being ambitious,” or some other ignorant, judgmental quip about me wasting my potential or being anti-feminist, I’m fine with the question. Ask away.

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