Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I Am

I am a stay at home mom. You know what I rarely do though? Stay at home. I know, it's probably better than the outdated term housewife but still, it bugs me. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and what seems to be me issues with being unemployed in the "normal" sense and what I've noticed is that there is a big BUT in the room when I describe my life. For example:

Random Person: "So what do you do?"

Me: "I'm a stay at home mom BUT... I do a lot of volunteering."


"I'm a stay at home mom BUT... I run marathons and write for a fitness website."


"I'm a stay at home mom BUT (fill in the blank with whatever makes me seem more interesting.)"

I feel the need to add a "but" to what my number one job is because for some reason I feel like it's not enough. You want to kill a conversation? Tell someone you just met that you stay at home with your kids. You've got to give them something else to work with otherwise you'll get something like, "Oh….that's nice..." as they scan the room searching for someone cooler to talk to. I admit, it's not that exciting on paper but I think I'm pretty darn good at what I do. My job is to make sure my kids grow up to be as awesome as possible and right now they seem to be right on track.

Some people will tell you that they could never be a stay at home parent because it would drive them crazy not having contact with the outside world. If you know me, then you probably already know I don't have this problem. Yes, when the kids were babies and I we lived out in the 'burbs (and before the invention of Twitter!) I did get lonely at times. But now that they are older I find with each passing year more and more things to get involved with for ME. So much that I rarely have enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want (or need) to do. Yes, I run a lot. I write. I'm a Girl Scout Leader, PTO mom and food pantry volunteer. I organize races and run groups. Soon I'll be coaching. This is on top of the usual day-to-day responsibilities of carting the kids around to their various after school activities, homework, housework, and making sure everyone has clean socks in their dresser drawers and their favorite juice boxes for lunch.

I'm a lucky lady. I realize most moms do all this stuff on top of working nine to five every day. And if you ask me, I frankly have no idea how some of you do it. We've been fortunate enough to be able to live comfortably on one income for years now and we have found a system that works for us. I hold down the fort, tie up all the loose ends and try my best to make everyone happy when they're tucked in at the end of the day. It's not glamorous but I honestly and truly love my life.

So why do I hem and haw and make excuses for it? I don't know. Some part of me will always feel like because I don't bring home a paycheck that what I do doesn't have the same value as a person who does bring one home (even if we don't *need* another paycheck.) I feel like I'm always trying to justify myself and needing to prove to people that I don't just sit on the couch all day eating ice cream and watching reality tv. Because of this I tend to overcompensate, over-extend myself and overcommit. It's enough to make me want to sit on the couch all day eating ice cream and watch reality tv.

But I don't.

*Thanks to Stacy Snook for the lovely photos of my girls!


  1. You are doing a wonderful job (at everything) and don't need to justify yourself to anyone! Keep it up, don't change a thing!

    Wonderful pics of the girls.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. Perhaps you should add up all the hours you spend doing things not as "Mom" to help yourself realize the impact you have. I'll bet you'll be surprised by how much time you commit. I know it's cliche, but time really is money. Remember that next time you're questioning this all.

  3. I think we have a bad habit in this country of defining ourselves and others by our occupations (or lack of). It's one of the first things we ask each other when meeting here; in Europe, the question rarely gets asked - or if it does, it's not until a friendship has been established. The question "what do you do" is perceived as intrusive and judgmental at worst; irrelevant at best.

    I now get it from the opposite end of the spectrum: people assume that because I'm a nurse, that means that I want to spend my post-shift drink at a bar listening to all their physical and mental woes. If I had a relatively "easy" day, sometimes I don't mind. Most of the time, I just want to blare my Fugazi and revel in the utter lack of complaints banging my ears.

    That said, I also think ('cause my opinion is, ya know, like, sooooo important ;) ) that the coolness factor you mentioned is probably actually jealousy, or just a foreign concept. How do we define ourselves (or others) without labels? How do we perceive (judge) others for themselves, their actions and words, and not for their job description? When we're stripped of our titles, the reality that we're all only human is strikingly clear, and I think that freaks a lot of people out.

    And if anyone asks me what you do, I just tell 'em you're Wonder Woman. :)

  4. Great article. My wife is a stay at home mom with our 3 kids. At times it is tough but we wouldn't have it any other way. It is a hard job and you should be proud.