My kids are now both in school. Full time. All day. And by full time, I mean six hours. Which is enough time to do exactly 78% of each job that I currently hold. Housekeeper, chauffeur (via bike, I do live in Portland after all), personal chef to
the stars my family, parent, and volunteer extraordinaire at my girls’ schools. Same school, two campuses (don’t get me started on THAT).
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, I know has asked me what I will be doing with my time now. At first I wasn’t sure. I said things like, “I know, right? Wow, big changes!” I gave an awkward smile and a little shrug. I felt guilty, like I better fill that time with something other than bon-bon eating. Which, by the way is a weird thing to say. Why do people say that? Who eats bon-bons?! The crusts of pb&j sandwiches, yes, half-eaten apples that have gone a little brown, yep. Maybe even a cold pancake here and there, but bon-bons?! Nopity-nope.
Anyway, back to the way I will be spending my time. Grocery shopping: 1 hour. Putting away said groceries: 10 mins. Bed making: 5 mins. Cleaning up breakfast: 10 mins. Checking AND responding to email (because now I’m practicing the art of one-touch email): 30 mins. Wasting time on Facebook: 15 mins. Cleaning house: 45 mins. More email, because when you’re on the PTA there are eleventy-billion emails: 45 mins. Oh, my god! This is so boring!!! Is this really the answer people are looking for? (At no other job are you asked to catalog your day minute-by-minute)
I’ll probably also exercise. And then shower. I’ll fix my hair and put on mascara. All of which have not consecutively happened in nine years. Really, nine years since I exercised and showered, one right after the other. This seems decadent and indulgent. I think of it as taking time for myself. But the truth is this is not decadent. This is not special “me time,” it’s normal! Dads do this. Some working moms I know do this. However, stay-at-home moms for the most part have yet to master this art. I’m working on it.
So, what am I doing with my time? I’m leading a normal life in which I don’t have to schedule a time to put laundry in the washer or to brush my teeth because unless I put it on the calendar it will never get done. I’m moving from one activity to the next at a normal speed. Mostly. I’m making checklists that seem impossibly long, but I’m cranking through them. I’m taking care of all the things that need to get taken care of for our family to function. I am making sure that there are clean soccer socks and there is healthy food at dinner. I am advocating like a hardcore community organizer for my kids as we navigate the system that is our public school bureaucracy. I am doing life, and I am killing it. Kind of.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the last two weeks: That stay-at-home mom schedule? The one with very small kiddos still at home most of the time, that schedule is crazy town! I now have time to take a critical look at the life I was living and the life many stay-at-home moms are living. What the what?! It. Is. So. Hard! And invisible. But I see you, sleepy stay-at-home mom. I see you doing the invisible tasks. I see you soldiering on when you are sick, because there are no sick days for you. I see you peeing with your child orbiting around your feet (not really, that’d be weird, but you get the point.) I salute your sweaty, greasy hair because maybe that means you got to exercise today. I salute you!