A strange compliment (I think)
Talking to a friend yesterday she said: “You don’t act like a stay at home mom” and I said “thanks” because that seemed like a compliment to me and I believe that is how she intended it.
Then I get to thinking about the phrase after we are off the phone. During the call she was driving and I started the conversation planting some plants with Fiona who mostly wanted to dig holes, continued the conversation through washing her hands then breaking up a fight about ABC mouse hamsters (by turning it off), and finished the conversation with Fiona on my lap on the swingset – all very ‘mom’ things to do. During the evening, after feeding, washing, brushing, putting to bedding – my mind does what it does and I go all divergent on the topic of acting like a stay at home mom.
Nearly 2 years into this stay at home mom gig I (still) have the same worries any mother has about if I’m doing it “right”. Do I read enough to them? Do I yell too much? Should #2 be watching more ‘mature’ (yet still very G) shows with #1 when #1 was still 100% Dora at 4 years old? How much TV/Computer is too much? Do they eat well enough? Do I cook enough ‘interesting’ things? Answers to these and countless other paranoid mother questions are perpetually debated and in the end it probably boils down to “maybe… it depends”. I constantly look at myself and wonder if I’m doing too much or little or whatever but it is nice to know that I’m not defined by it do an outside observer.
As my own devils advocate – is this a backhanded compliment? Given SAHM is my current ‘profession’ does not seeming like; that is what I do, does it mean I’m not doing it well enough? I say no… There are tons of people I don’t have a clue what they do professionally and those whom I do know, it is usually a footnote to our relationship. That is my opinion at least – people that talk constantly about work are kinda dull. Maybe that is it ~ constant talk about the thing I do all day is dull if I’m a scientist, librarian, writer, or mom.
On the other hand, I have the great positive that my ‘job’ is to do with something that a huge number of people have fair to very good experience with too. It is great to really talk kids with people, get different opinions and solutions and hear about what other people do. This is kinda how I was with work; when in a group of my peers – it is very satisfying to talk nuts and bolts and know the person you are talking to understands. Maybe that is my secret; I’m not talking about what it is like to be at home with my kids, I’m talking about my kids and so are you and we have a shared experience, not you listening to me gripe. BTW, for my friends out there with no kids, I’ve still gotten great info and feedback so this isn’t an exclusive Mom’s only club.
I joke all the time that I look like a stay at home mom but I actually semi try to not fit the stereotype. It is sad that the stereotype of frumpy, dumpy and sleep deprived mom is what most people think of a stay at home mom looking like (including me, although, I feel that not to be true overall). I have a uniform of t shirts and jeans and comfortable shoes so I probably fall into the frumpy category. In my defence; everything I wear must be yogurt proof and washable. Over the past 2 years I’ve tried adding accessories and I know the theory of dressing for success but I’m just not a hair-doer or makeup person and the mom’s I see made up so nicely are inspirational but not something I aspire to exactly. What I’m working on is the dumpy part since that is in my control. Fitness is a more natural since being outside and active fits well with people who have two speeds; all out run and crash landing. I have a membership to a fitness club that will watch my kids so weekly I have an escape from responsibility and an hour to work out. Yesterday I saw the proof that my kids are learning fitness from me because Fiona requested a certain workout routine that I do often (because it is short and hard) and she bounced along with it and even did baby burpees. Sleep deprived…. well, I have a keurig but there are days that I know why there is a speed problem with many moms. Someday I’ll have plenty of sleep, until then I will hope the world is understanding when I’m not fit to operate heavy machinery.
At least once a week I question if I’m inflicting myself on people because I’m always finding myself putting out the invitations to this or that but without it I would be a sad hermit with only internet friends because I seldom get invitations. I like doing things and that is what drives me to write here, write occasionally elsewhere, take millions of pictures, create a social media job for myself and various other little things including hauling my kids all over for this or that. I constantly look at my life and find it dull because we never go out, I’ve not seen any of the movies, don’t have exciting adventures. It isn’t until I reflect on the details of my life and the outcomes to see I’m not dull really, I just have a very time consuming job where I’m on-duty every night therefore I watch a ton of TV and find things to do here. Count your blessings is a very valuable phrase…
If you make it this far congratulations on getting through it. I hope I made some sense. I don’t have time to leave the house for a haircut much less for therapy so I use this spot occasionally to work it out on paper. In the end I choose to stay home therefore I have to support my own decision. I still wish I could be more super mom but I think most people do. I read somewhere that if you are worried about doing things right your doing ok because people who worry care and that is what matters (conversely, now anytime I’m not worried I worry about not worrying….) All in all, I’m going to say that not “acting like a stay at home mom” means that I’ve retained what makes me fun and special AS WELL as adding on 3 conversation starters and I read enough bolgs and twitter to be current enough on interesting things to talk about 🙂
So. What do you think a Stay at home mom sounds like?