I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. Housewife. Home-maker. “Non-working”. The truth is, I’d never imagined that when I had children, I would be able to choose how much time to invest in hands on motherhood. As a child, I’d always imagined that my schedule would mirror the the women that raised me and who’s lives I mimicked as I raised my 7 plastic baby girls. I would wake early in the morning, and in the still of the house, I would quietly shuffle around in my house slippers, humming some melody that wanted so desperately to be sang. Something beautiful and sleepy that would lull my family back to sleep if I couldn’t resist singing a few words. Ella, or Billie. I would take my morning wash up, primp my face, take out my pink foam rollers, and dress myself in my fabulous outfit that I’d decided upon the previous night.
Once dressed, I’d go into the kitchen, and quietly cook a breakfast for my family to wake up to. A pot of grits simmering on the stove, and turkey-ham, cheese and egg sandwiches keeping warm in the oven. I’d always make sure to wake thirty minutes early to do this. Lord forbid my children had to eat cold cereal on a week day. Once breakfast was complete, I’d make myself a cup of coffee, pour it in my thermos, and before I left for my job, I’d go and wake my children. I’d go to each of their rooms (of course at least one baby would be in my own bed), making certain that their butts were out of the bed, and then I’d head out, leaving their rooms filled with the scent of my Jean Nate body splash.
At 3:15, I would call home to make sure that everyone made it home safely and had started their homework. If one of my children were old enough to watch the others, they would be at home. If not, they would be at their grandma’s. By 5:30, I would have picked up the children, and I would begin preparing dinner. Meatloaf or spaghetti, or baked chicken. Something simple for a weekday. If my husband were home, we’d sit around the dinner table and eat our meal, teaching the children proper etiquette and asking about their days. If he were working late, I’d spread a table cloth on the living room floor, and we’d all lay on our bellies and eat our dinner and drink our Kool-Aid, and I’d laugh as the kids pretended to churn mashed potatoes out of their mouths.
At some point, the distinct smell of ivory soap would fill the air as baths were given, and slowly, one by one, my babies would get in their beds, say their prayers and give me the rest that I needed. My youngest would probably wake once before I went to bed, and would require me to snuggle up close until their breathing became heavy and deep again. I’d drink a cup of hot tea and watch
Arsenio Hall HGTV. My husband would come home and we’d canoodle on the couch before retiring to bed.
And then, I’d do the same thing all over again.
Man, that life sounds so exciting! I understand why I was so attracted to motherhood. I don’t even know what my mother did when she went to work. Something with the IRS. But I knew that that life was for me! I was about that life! My mama smelled good, looked fly, and got more compliments for her cooking than Julia Child (in my eyes). Perhaps the grass is always greener, but on most days, being a working mom seems glamorous and freeing.
Before I had Malachi, I was a MSW student at Loyola University Chicago. I was nauseous during orientation, as I was 7 weeks along. I knew that I wanted to finish school, but I also knew that that would be an arduous task being so far away from family and friends. At 7 months, I took a leave of absence, hoping to return to school after 3 months post- partum. After 2 weeks of being a mom, I knew I couldn’t return. Who would I trust to leave Chi with? How would I nurture our breastfeeding relationship with ease? How would we afford good childcare?
And so it was decided. I would stay at home and take care of Chi full time. And thus began the most challenging job
I’ve ever had I will ever have. I wake early in the morning (never on my own accord) to a tiny hand in my shirt for breakfast milk, or the sweetest sloppy “good morning mama” kiss, or the most common occurrence, a never ending high pitched song of “Daa-Da! Daaa-Da!Daaaa-Daaaa!!!: as Chi crawls over me to slap Matt awake:
I don’t smell good on most days. 6 days out of the week I’m wearing yoga pants, running shorts, t-shirts, bare face. I keep my hair braided to cut down on time I have to spend looking “together”. I have meltdowns on a pretty regular basis when I realize out loud “Shit! Its 4:30 and the chicken’s still frozen! Shit! sorry, Chi! Don’t listen to mama. Bad, bad language!”
My back aches at the end of every day from leaning over a crib, coaxing a baby to sleep during nap time. My feet are sometimes punctured from stepping on tiny matchbox cars that are flung around the house. Daily life has lots of disappointments :Failed naps, fighting naps, not eating a lunch that I’ve worked soo hard on! (Come on! Who doesn’t like grilled cheese, child?!), tantrums, food throwing. And this sounds kind of petty. But when you’re sometimes running on 6 hours of sleep, without any down time, and chasing a crawler who wants to be held and left alone simultaneously, it’s cray cray.
But, I often have to remind myself to reflect on the beautiful parts of my days as well. Snacks outside by the pool, sweet cuddles, seeing Chi growing physically and emotionally as he learns to cruise and share his food and toys with me, being chased by a squealing crawler, lunch dates and park outings and tickling toes and dance parties.
And this life, is beautiful.This life is difficult, and it drains my energy, but each morning, it fills me with purpose and and a deep respect for the intricate art of motherhood.