It’s an age old question, really. What ever in the world does a mother do while biding her time at home?
Doesn’t that question seem antiquated and totally clueless??!? Okay, okay. Maybe it’s because I’m a stay-at-home mom that I feel that way…but STILL. Can you hear me crossing my arms and furrowing my brow right now?
A little background information is probably necessary to support/explain my angst. I worked in the nonprofit world in program management until about a month before my daughter was born. In a couple short weeks she’ll be 7, so it’s been a hot minute since I was in the ‘working world’. For the past seven years I’ve had the benefit of staying home with my child (and then children) but, in the same token, I’ve also reaped the reward of having a livelihood that is often viewed as an ‘easy way out’ or even a *snort* walk in the park (as far as I’m concerned, I’ve never chosen to take a walk in the park covered in snot, spit up, or poop, among other things). Now back to the burning question of ‘what do you do all day’.
I know what I do during the day in my little corner of the world. Mostly. If anyone was to ask me outright how I spend my days my first response would be something snarky along the lines of, “making sure my house is stocked with bon-bons.” Then, I would probably swiftly move through the generalities of my day-to-day. I actually asked my husband what he thought I did all day and got this bulleted list:
- clean up the kitchen
- pick up a little bit around the house
- do some laundry
- take the kids to do fun stuff
But you see, there’s this thing. A thing so intangible that I usually draw a blank when reflecting on my day. What could accurately describe the phenomenon that fills a stay-at-home mother’s day, something that extends beyond the usual bullet point tasks. I even went so far as looking up both UNKNOWN and ACTIVITY in the thesaurus to try to express such an abstract thing.
Exotic bustle. That’s what I decided upon. The exotic bustle of motherhood covers the tedious job of sibling negotiations (it can get hostile), mending hurt feelings, tutoring, answering a thousand questions, Band-Aid placement, toy tornado cleanup, frequent food preparation (that can get hostile also), answering another thousand questions, not to mention all the other ‘hey mom, come here!’ or ‘hey mom, watch this!’ statements that frequently occur. Take all that and whatever else I’m forgetting, and then multiply by 3 (at least).
Etcetera, etcetera, EXOTIC BUSTLE.
My whole point for exploring this topic is to put a little more awareness out into the universe about what is involved being a stay-at-home parent. I’m in no way championing that my job is harder or even that some days it’s hard at all (but there’s also those other days for which wine was created). If you ask someone who works outside the home how their day has been they will most likely give you some high points and low points, peppered with the mundane. The general understanding is if you go to work somewhere you are busy and it is stressful. The same consideration and respect should be given to stay-at-home parents. It may look all glossy and fun and sound like it’s made up of lounging and bon-bons, but it isn’t. Raising little humans day in and day out is hard work and should never be looked upon with a lack of importance.
And so, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, the next time someone asks how you spent your day and you manage to rattle off that you went to the library with the kids and ran a few errands, follow that up with asking them if they’ve ever heard of the good ol’ exotic bustle of motherhood. When they stare back at you with a blank or puzzled look, just say “nevermind” and pour yourself a drink. And then pour them one too because who hasn’t had some bustle in their day.