I know you are all with me. It’s a mind game, this whole mothering thing. We are with them alllll day and the next and the next and the next, and it’s our fault if the place looks trashed, so we work pretty hard to keep it kosher, and the way the children act is a direct test to our parenting prowess, it’s kind of sad, but you know it’s true. If our kids are nuts or a bloody mess, or somewhere in between, it’s our job to fix it.
I am not trying to offend anyone, so if you work and you already feel like I’m calling a working mama less-then, believe me, I am not. The reality is, we are at a pivotal place in history, where many (and this is extreme, I know) believe that if a child’s basic needs are met, and they have been cared for, then we as mom’s can check that box, and be done. I believe that actually raising a child takes much more than caring for them. Raising entails a repore that can only be accomplished with time spent by an interested and scrutinizing person. Lots of time. Listening and supporting and going through the daily grind, to see what it is they excel at and what they could use a little work on. Knowing your kids, this is a full time thing.
To stay in the game….to keep going…. we stay-at-homers need to make stuff up. You can be nice and psycho-babble and do whatever it is that works, but I “go to my happy place” often. Everyday, in fact. I take whatever it is that I’m doing, and make it magic. I turn the daily happenings into bliss in my mind, not because I am truly depressed or something, it’s just going to take a lot of energy, and to get psyched up for the occasion of herding six somewhat willing individuals under the age of twelve into the van to do the “planned” activity, it takes a lot of….. well, for lack of better terminology, it takes A LOT.
Here is a perfect example: going to the dentist. So, they won’t take all my kids on the same day, so we do two days somewhat close together, and I have these appointments sitting there on my calendar for weeks. Just sitting there. And every time I lay eyes on it, I think – I should get a sitter for that day, but for some masochistic reason: I don’t.
So the night before, I freak out quietly in my mind (another thing you stay-at homers have learned well, I know- this is not a good reason to have the kids all excited, right?) about getting there on time, and water bottles, snacks, and activities for the children in the waiting room. The morning rolls around, and together with the breakfast and morning jobs comes a sort of squalor of daughters fighting over the mirror,combing hair, and applying lip gloss (as if Justin Beiber HIMSELF) may stop in to get a teeth cleaning! And babies, and shoes, and the baby pooped her diaper, back inside, changing clothes, oh my goodness, homework-books, planner, etc.
In the middle of all of this ULTIMATE CHAOS lies a simple line that I replay to myself, “Bring your sewing project, Jen, so while you are there waiting you can stich a few, and pour yourself some tea, so you can sip on some Morning Thunder whilst you listen to the ever polite witnessing going on in the exam rooms! Surely, we will convert at least one restless heart to Christ by being there today….” Yes, I do find myself screaming later on inside my head things like: “You are a nut-job, why didn’t you get a sitter?”
But then, you have experiences like I had the other day, getting berated by an elderly man in the checkout line, that make you reconsider. He was laying into me full tilt that I was crazy to bring my kids to the store, and that they didn’t want to be there anyway. Ha-ha. Ha again now that I think about him….I have been complaining to the cashier because at this particular thrift store chain, they make frequent loudspeaker announcements that children must remain with their parents. We have been told (collectively) several times (along with other families) to stay as one unit. Honestly, by the time we got through the store and were in line to pay, I was seeing stars. Over and over I had been the vigilant drill sergeant. “Stay close!”….”hold onto the cart!”…..” look for shoes that are cool but have laces”…” we don’t need a skateboard without wheels”…. Why can’t my twelve, ten and eight year olds who have come here with their own money in order to buy themselves new awesome digs, be left alone? They were doing what they were supposed o be doing, s h o p p i n g!!!!
The old guy said, those kids don’t want to be here anyway, you should leave them with their grandparents! Which strikes a nerve, because my folks aren’t around. I straight up said to him, “that’s easy for you to say!” Maybe bringing my kids with me everywhere is a bit much sometimes, but maybe they are learning from these outings? Maybe what many children experience today, being carted from activity to activity, school, back home again and to another activity suited to their specific needs isn’t exactly positive! Maybe it’s okay to be made slightly uncomfortable in order to understand the appropriate etiquette for the store, the dentist, the church, the park, the library, the friends home, AND all around the freaking mulberry bush. Maybe I’m proud of the fact that my kids raise their own cash to spend it wisely, second hand, which is in fact, recycling and making good choices, while checking for missing buttons, broken zippers and hidden holes.
The manager, the cashier and the old guy all looked at me and shut up. The old guy yelled over his shoulder, something about how I had a bad attitude. I don’t think so, you crazy insensitive dude. I think next time I shop there they can announce something like, “here in the children’s shirts aisle you see the Thomason Children doing exactly what their Mom told them to do, if you don’t know what you are supposed to do, please consult your mother.”
I am staying at home not because it’s perfect for all to see. I’m doing it because with me at home, our family works.