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?
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.