Tag Archives: stay at home moms

Where’s My Happy Hour

It’s 7 AM Friday.

I was up five times last night with 2.0. He’s teething, runny nose and screaming included, and I collectively slept about four hours last night. CLP woke up with him around 7 this morning, and I woke up to the baby dropping my phone on my face, effectively giving me a fat lip. They left the bedroom so I could wake up in peace, and when I went to our bathroom, discovered that the cats had knocked over cans of food into the litter box, scattered litter across the floor, and somehow covered themselves in their own poop.

It’s 8 AM Friday.

Captain Laser Pants tells me he wanted to wake up earlier to work out, but felt groggy at 7. I remind him he went to sleep at 9. He changes the subject and asks me why I was looking at jobs on LinkedIn last night. I tell him I’m bored and tired of being boring. He reminds me we live too far out in the country to find childcare and that we can’t both commute. For once he doesn’t talk about the financial aspect of me going back to work.

He travels regularly now. This month has only had two trips, thankfully, but the past several months have had 2-4. The hotel he stayed in while in DC was gorgeous, from what I was told. And in September he has a week long trip to California complete with bikini- clad trade show babes and borderline exotic dancers on stage during presentations. Of course I’m unhappy about this trip, largely because I don’t want to be alone with our children and pets in our house for seven days. But as much as he says he hates to travel, and I believe him, it’s not as though he’s going to the armpit of Arkansas and staying in a Motel 6.

It’s 9 AM Friday.

Tonight he has a happy hour for his office at some hip bar close to their building. He doesn’t drink, but the social aspect is important, so he’s going. He looked nice in his blue polo when he said goodbye to me, freshly changed from a skimpy nursing tank and short shorts into lounge clothes. At least I had managed to brush my hair. Mini Gwinn loudly proclaimed he had to pee, 2.0 had just run into a corner, and the cats were on the table as he walked out the door.

And at this moment I asked myself: where is my happy hour? Where is the designated celebratory hour in which I can unwind, watch coworkers drink too much and get handsy with each other, and congratulate myself on a hard worked week?

I’m a stay at home mom. There is no celebration, no break, no promotion, no bonus. There is no glamorous trade show in a beautiful city, there is no male equivalent to a bikini model flirting with me, there is no end of the work day. And there’s no sympathy. One end of the spectrum thinks I’m lazy and stupid, and I’m in my place, and the other end of the spectrum believes I’m living the American dream. But I’m not lazy or stupid, and I don’t feel like I’m living my American dream. One person’s idea of the ideal doesn’t always translate to others.

It’s 10 AM Friday.

Mini Gwinn is taking pictures on his Kindle and turning them into coloring pages. I’ve just changed my 500th poop diaper while 2.0 is standing (yes, he stands for diaper changes. And tries to knock over pictures during the process). He’s going down for a nap now. The dogs are chasing the scent of the cats through the house. While I do my matronly duty and nurse the baby for his nap, I’m mulling over what it is I want to do, career- wise, life- wise. The petty part of me wants CLP to feel the same way I do when he goes on a trip. I want him to know how lonely and isolated I feel. Maybe some of the jealousy that stirs when someone of the opposite sex gets my conversation, my charm and intellect, and waking hours for a change will resonate with him, put him in my shoes. But the not petty part of me wants fulfillment and gratitude for my incessant, tireless efforts. And this poor dead horse is beaten again and again, because my needs still aren’t being met, despite my requests. How many times do I have to say “I don’t feel valued” before something changes?

And I can see the eye rolls through the screens and monitors. “Motherhood is fulfilling, there is gratitude in doing the most important job” blah blah blah. For the record, I believe that it is my most important job to raise my children properly, but I don’t believe it is the most important job worldwide. It’s not nuclear physics. Plenty of stupid people procreate; it’s not the “hardest job in the world”. It just has the longest hours and the worst pay imaginable. I love my boys endlessly. But I don’t believe I am cut out to continue down this path of housekeeper and short order cook for much longer. My brain is bored. And I am boring. And I’m done with both.

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Nothing Important

Love ’em or leave ’em, the guys on Duck Dynasty have some funny things to say. Captain Laser Pants and I have many belly laughs while watching the show. One quote I heard from Phil, the patriarch, though, stuck with me. I can’t find it verbatim (if you search his name and ‘quote’, you mostly get results from the GQ hit piece written up on him. Don’t think it’s a hit piece? Did you read it? I digress.), but it was something to the extent of: women leave their families, change their name to yours, have your children, raise your children, keep your house […] go easy on them.

If I had heard that five years ago, I would have wondered if women had any say in their marriages at all.

Now? I get it.

I love my husband. I love my precious, sometimes wild, son. I love the little nugget growing inside my body, despite how crappy I feel. while growing him. I love that my husband’s career affords us the luxury for me to stay home to raise our boys.

But.

Of course there’s a ‘but’. I miss having financial independence. I miss silence. I miss the distinct satisfaction of having an entirely spotless home. I miss feeling like I had some contributing value to society, whether it be through my efforts in my career, volunteer work, or just having something thoughtful to say in an adult conversation.

I miss adult conversation. I miss being heard. A two year old boy and the three dogs that usually surround him do not hear me, let alone listen to me. I miss having something clever to say that wasn’t about someone eating crayons or ingesting Vick’s vapor rub or how many surfaces can be covered in poop in less than thirty seconds. I miss my husband hearing me as an intelligent resource for witty repartee or insightful wisdom and not just a source for where more wipes are located. I miss being heard.

When I was studying in college, I thought I would have my master’s in Library Science by now. I thought I’d be flourishing in my specialty of children’s literature. I thought I’d be certified to be an American Sign Language interpreter and working with deaf children. I thought I’d be pursuing my passions and utilizing my set of talents. I thought I’d see the faces of children that were learning and my thanks for my work would be on those little cheeks.

Marriage was hardly on the radar, children weren’t even on the screen.

Although I understood the existential insignificance of my life (what I do or want to do won’t ever impact the way the world turns or thinks), I never thought I’d live day to day with it blaring in my face.

I cook and I clean and I sweep and I mop and I do dishes and I clean crap off the soles of shoes and I cut hair and I feed dogs and I pick up endless toys while my body aches and I’m so tired and no one says “thank you”.

No one ever tells you what a hard job motherhood truly is. Society tells us over and over again that women who stay home to raise children are lazy or stupid and selfish for not contributing to the financial gain of the house. But they’re so, so wrong. It’s not bio-engineering, but my job is hard. And there aren’t seasonal reviews or cost of living raises at the end of each year. And there aren’t “thank yous”.

I love my family. But I would also love to be thanked once in a while.

To those outside these four walls, and even to those inside them, what I do looks like nothing important. If the laundry isn’t done, America doesn’t go to war. But I’ve put aside my old hopes and dreams to pursue the career of taking care of a family. My family.

And I wonder how that stacks up against those great, influential men and women who gave up everything to pursue their dreams.

Is theirs a bigger sacrifice? I suppose it’s all relative.