There is a huge debate over whether moms should stay at home with their kids. Even Mom herself is sometimes not sure! And I see merit on both sides of the debate, although I used to be totally against the idea of staying at home.
However, helping four babies to grow has shown me how much they pick up from the intangibles of home life, and how glad I am that that backdrop (which includes me =) has formed the bedrock of their identities,even their subconsciouses. When they are older, they can take responsibility for their own identities. But for now, Daddy and I are in charge, striving to help them become happy, loving, and fun. Whereas each day is just a tiny speck on the radar screen—and not very much in any particular day would convince anybody to stay at home with their kids—the gathering of those tiny specks seems to have a lot of impact. From a long-term perspective, staying at home with them has changed their lives. While I fall short all the time, they are definitely gleaning from the time we have spent making our selves, our marriage, and our home… well, happy, loving, and fun!
Just for scientific purposes, I kept a running tab of one of my mornings, one my recent “specks”. Here’s how yesterday looked:
7:50am- Non-school day. Cell phone alarm goes off. I hit the snooze.
7:55am- this continues for fifteen more minutes.
8:10am- Still laying in the bed, I take stock of the fact that my cold is starting to heal. I’m excited about that and consider briefly the things I could tackle today, but then my thoughts switch to the breakfast routine.
8:15am- I get up, throw on a sweater, and go upstairs to assemble breakfast. Cereal, milk, and vitamins. Don’t forget that the baby has switched to rice milk for awhile because she seems to be acquiring a mild allergy to the regular milk. Note to self to record how long this goes on so when the doctor asks me how much whole milk she’s been drinking, I can give an apologetic.
8:20am- I wake up the kids. Oldest first, bathroom, breakfast. Then the second oldest, bathroom, breakfast. Then the two little ones, diapers, new pants, and breakfast.
8:25am- I sneak out the door to grab Dunkin Donuts. (My husband is still asleep in the bed). If I hurry, I can probably make it back before people are finished eating.
8:36am- Even though the line at DD was slightly long, I made it home to find only my oldest finished and jumping around. He’s curious about my bagel and coffee (Points for me for showing restraint!), but I stave him off by redirecting him to his toys.
8:37am- One bite into the bagel, my other two boys finish and they need direction too. I help them get stuff out of the closet, give them an assignment and turn back to my bagel. Then the baby cries from her high chair, reminding me I’ve forgotten her, so I go to the rescue. Then I really have an interested party in my food and the next five minutes is spent alternating bites from me to her. I’m mildly perturbed about that (subtract points for feeling selfish), but she’s so cute about the whole thing that I can’t resist. I smile and coo to her anyway =)
8:39am- in the midst of my bagel alternating, I start wondering when my husband is going to get up.
8:42am- I break up a situation with the boys, brush the crumbs off my hands, and check the email. I goof around with the news, etc.
9:10am- I get my act together and start cleaning the kitchen. The baby follows me, of course, and I spend about fifteen minutes trying to keep her out of the dishwasher, frig, and closet as I clean. Giving her the dustpan helps, and she happily tries to sweep up crumbs, although she doesn’t actually get any. The boys punctuate my cleaning too, giving me status updates about whoever is not sharing (“Tell him he has to share with you…”), whoever got a piece to work on their lego sculpture (“That’s great, honey”), and whoever is wondering what I’m doing (“Mommy’s just cleaning the kitchen. Go play.”). I tell myself that I’ll give them some personal time soon.
9:30am- My husband is up, gets some cereal in my nice clean kitchen, and goes into his office, half-naked, to get ready for his first conference call of the day. I smooch him a lot when he gets up, try not to interrupt him once he goes in (doesn’t work) and exchange general pleasantries about how nice it is to see him. The key to this is sublimating my annoyance (or jealousy) about his sleeping in and actually being in the moment, as I AM happy to see him. Now I feel “covered” like I have his presence as back-up power should i need it to face my kiddos, and I go into see them.
9:45-10:45am- I have talked to the kids about their things, which they love, switched some people’s activities, admired sculptures, corrected manners, and protected projects from the baby’s destructive path. I have considered what they should do after they are bored with what they currently have, straightened up a couple more things, disciplined one person for whining and having a bad heart, and AIM-ed my husband a couple times as he’s brought up random To-Do things that he remembered while on his conference call. I add those things to my Post-it and have a brief mini-argument over AIM about one item (the yard) in particular. Always argue about non-important things virtually… it saves a lot of feelings.
10:45am- I try to be a good girl and start a load of laundry, but I find out that I forgot the last load I put in there and it has become dry and mildewed. Restart, in hot water (subtract points for hurting the environment/energy), with lots of Tide with Bleach. At least the new dirty laundry is down there now.
10:55am- I hear “elephant feet” up there while I’m doing laundry, so I go upstairs to see what’s going on. Some boys get separated.
11:00am- Time to think about lunch. I get one boy to help me with the trays (Points for educational lesson!), which he does happily, and I manage to assemble something vaguely resembling the food pyramid from practically nothing. Add “grocery store” to my Post-it.
11:20am- The kids have all eaten and now have fresh wind for the afternoon. I put the baby down for her nap and consider whether I should take them to the playground while she naps. (My husband is still at home, on probably his third conference call, and the baby requires more vigilance at the playground than anyone else). I am just thinking about doing this, and trying to ward of negative thoughts about my city’s weather which I habitually criticize, when the phone rings. It is my realtor asking if we can have an open house this Sunday. (We’ve been trying to sell our house for a month and it is not going well.) So somehow this gets me off in discussions with my husband about the house, planning, etc. I make more phone calls, negotiate more child problems (stuck K’nex, thigns too high, brothers not sharing), read more online news, and somehow let the afternoon get away from me. In the back of my mind, I am vaguely aware of my running tape which consists of reminders about wanting to lose 10 lbs, specific areas I need to clean before we have an open house, how much I am glad I finally have a daughter, worry about what I will do with my 5-year old this summer when kindergarten is out, and mild disapproval over the fact that my husband kind of wants to take a trip to Canada with everybody this summer and I don’t want to go… blame it on the stress of trying to sell the house plus my distaste over taking long drives with the young kids. But I try to stay positive, not be anxious, and procrastinate THAT ugly talk with my husband which will bring up other more philosophical things.
12:30pm- Baby wakes up early. No playground. Shoot!