Monday, August 22, 2011

Earth to Johanna: Being a Mom is Hard Work

I totally give lip service to the concept that staying at home with the kids is hard work.  But some days, when I'm sitting by the pool with three mommy friends drinking our Bud Lights while the kids hoot and holler and do whatever kids do, well on those days, I have to admit I feel like I might be pulling the wool over everyone's eyes.

Honestly, how is this hard work?

Yes, there's the laundry, carpooling, shopping and homework that has to be managed.  Still, it's not like they're babies.  I'm not changing diapers or making sure no one tumbles down the stairs.  My kids are seven and nine.  If they were dogs they'd be well into middle age.  As it is, they're pretty darn self-sufficient. 

It wasn't until the kids went to Camp Grandma and Grandpa last week that I had the sudden realization, much like Virginia about Santa Claus, that, Yes Johanna, being a stay at home mom is hard work.

On the first day the kids were gone I worked on Losing Hope until I hit my 2K word goal.  Then I had a two hour conference call about something exciting that might or might not be happening with Losing Beauty.  A friend called.  Could I meet her at Starbucks.  I could, because it was still only 1:00.  Seriously?   I had to look at my watch a couple of times because that didn't seem quite right.  Normally, it would be much later.

Afterwards, I went home and did the social networking stuff.  And there was still time for yoga.  When my husband came home he found me editing the work I'd started that morning.  Yes, it's so unbelievable it needs to be written again.  I was editing work I'd started that morning!  We had dinner and I called my mom and talked to the kids.

"It's funny," I told her after she'd wrested control of the phone from Child #2.  "I worked all day long and got so much done and I'm not even tired."

She laughed.  "We've been busy, busy, busy here," she said.  "But I can't say we've gotten anything done."

That's when it hit me.  All that stuff I do with my kids, the packing for the pool, the homework, the cooking of breakfast, lunch and dinner, the laundry, the reminding to use nice manners, the pep talks, the snuggles, the listening to them talk, the refereeing of arguments, the making sure they take their vitamins, the worrying about [honestly, just pick something and fill in the blank because I worry about it all].  All of that is hard work.  It's the reason why, most nights by 10:30, I can barely keep my eyes open.

So today I'm reaffirming something for myself (and anyone else who might have been doubting the genuine value of what they do).  Staying at home is a job.  It's hard work, even if sometimes you lose track of why or *gasp* have fun.    Don't underestimate the energy it takes to stay home.  And don't get down on yourself if you don't finish everything on your to-do list.  There will always be tomorrow, or the next day, or maybe the day after you pack everyone up and send them off to college.


Hart Johnson said...

Ack! I know it's hard work. I've never been the stay-at-home parent--know, in fact, it is not part of my personality to do that, but I've had my turn to cover over the years. I was also 'THE parent' when I was home (reading, homework, projects) and when they were younger, I never could have done the writing. I started seriously when they were 10 and 7, I think.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I agree. Just because much of the time it's fun, it doesn't mean it isn't hard :)

Connie J Jasperson said...

quote: 'If they were dogs they'd be well into middle age.'

Alright, I confess that I laughed so hard my poor husband thought I had lost my mind (again). I love this column, Johanna!

Sharon said...

Love this. Agree. It is hard work, and it is extremely important work. Raising loving, compassionate and education children is a critical function in our society, and should be regarded as such.

Johanna Garth said...

Hart, last year I turned some school project help responsibility over to my husband. BLISS!

Sarah, I know! Especially the summer, which is so much fun, but hard work, I tend to discount the work part.

Connie, we share the same sense of humor;)

Sharon, THANKS!

Anonymous said...

I have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 6 month old so I'm still in the preventing them from falling off of things stage, but there are still those delicious moments when I get into the flow and it doesn't really feel like work at all. So I totally get what you're saying about this swing between work and not-working-so-hard. If only all jobs we ever have will have that same give and take.

Abby Fowers said...

I love this! Being a stay at home mom IS hard work. I always realize that most when I see how much I accomplish when they are away! lol. It's true! Sounds like you got a lot done! I love it!

Megan Bostic said...

I stayed home with my kids for years. It IS hard work. You're constantly doing something. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, helping with homework, driving around. It honestly doesn't get any easier either. Now my kids are teenagers and I have a part time job, and it's nonstop driving it seems.

No one should ever underestimate the work a stay at home mom does.

The Bookworm said...

yes, being a mommy is hard work, whether you stay at home with them or work, it's non-stop and there's just never enough hours in the day.

Tami said...

Bravo! Applaud yourself for all that you do with your kids each day. My stay-at-home days are over because I couldn't convince the kids to stay at home, but I can tell you to enjoy the days at the pool and the time spent doing crafts or whatever your kids are into. Hearing my kids talk now (ages 19 and 21)about how much they loved having me there all the time is reward for the hard work and justification for the fun.