Years ago, long before I had children of my own I would sometimes ponder the question, "What does a Stay at Home Mom do all day"? I mean really, how much work could actually be involved in caring for a child or children at home all day. I know there are things like keeping the house clean, grocery shopping, cooking, but those are all things that I do and I have a full time job. I never expected to find myself in the SAHM role, answering my own question. I had somehow completely neglected the fact that most of a Mom's day is consumed by, wait for it.... taking care of your child!
It's not that I was unfamiliar with the difficulty of caring for children. For years I worked in a child care center. Most of my time there was spent in the infant room. A job that was challenging on a good day and pull your hair out, leave work with a migraine on a bad day. Don't get me wrong, I loved my job. Babies are adorable and even on a bad day it's hard not to appreciate their cute chubby sweetness. However, at the end of an eight hour shift of wiping poopy bottoms, getting doused in breast milk spit up, having your hair pulled and being screamed at by multiple kiddos, I was glad to go home to a childless house. I always thought teenagers should be required to spend a month working full time in the infant room, it makes for excellent birth control.
By the time I decided to start a family of my own I was working in the toddler room. A job equally challenging, but with more perks. One and two year old children can give hugs, say "I love you", play games and just be hilarious. They also don't spit up and some of them can even use the toilet. As my due date drew near, I knew that I would go back to work after a 12 week maternity leave. I had no desire to quit my job and stay home with my daughter. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate what Stay at Home Moms did, it just wasn't appealing to me. I loved my job, watching the children grow and change, the social interaction with my co-workers, and the sense of pride when I knew I was doing a good job.
My 12 weeks of maternity leave were blissful. I snuggled my daughter, nursed her, played with her, enjoyed her every waking moment. The one problem was, her waking moments were few and far between. She slept a lot, and by a lot I mean pretty much all the time. If she wasn't nursing, she was sleeping. Sometimes she would even sleep while nursing. I kept asking our pediatrician if it was normal for a baby to sleep so much, she laughed and told me not to complain about it. Although my maternity leave was a bit on the boring side I did enjoy it. I watched seasons 1-3 of Dexter, got my house cleaner than it had ever been and pumped enough breastmilk to carry us through the next few months.
Going back to work went smoothly. My daughter continued to sleep her days away in the infant room while I played with the big kids. I would take a break every day to go visit her and nurse or pump. While I did miss her, my work day seemed to go by quickly and we got to spend the afternoons and evenings together. When I had my miscarriage in November, things changed. I started to realize how fragile life is. How lucky I was to have my daughter. As we started to try to get pregnant again I began to reconsider my life as a Working Mom.
By March the decision was made, I was going to quit my job. We weren't yet pregnant, but I hoped to be soon. I knew that I would have much more time with Gwenevere as my only child and I wanted to make the most of it. I also didn't want to go through another pregnancy lifting 30 pound children, setting up and cleaning up twelve toddler lunches while struggling with morning sickness and sweating through the summer in a building without air conditioning. My last day of work was the second week of April. That week we found out that I was pregnant again, this time with twins.
It's been a year and a half since I have worked, in the traditional sense. I am now a Stay at Home Mom and I must say that I love my new job title. Is it as difficult as being a working Mom? Yes and no. My schedule is more open and flexible. I have more time during the day to run errands, work out, even take the occasional nap. I also have to do all of this while caring for a toddler, a very busy toddler. Keeping the house clean now means picking up toys, sweeping crumbs, wiping pee of the floor, making meals and snacks all throughout the day. For every mess that is picked up, there is another mess being made. I can grocery shop whenever I want to, but it takes about twice as long. When Gwenevere goes down for her nap I can choose between working out, planning curriculum for her, cleaning or nothing. It is not always easy, but it's a good fit for me. Becoming a SAHM is a decision that I don't regret. I have one living child and I am glad that I am able to spend every possible moment I have enjoying her.