Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Really Happens When A Working Mom Stays Home With Her Kids For A Day

Home all day all alone with my kids = a little Yo Gabba Gabba to the rescue. (Some moms do not let their kids watch TV. Suckers.)
About two weeks ago, I was featured on one of my favorite blogs, What Would Gwyneth Do, talking about how I balance my life as a working mom. I loved the piece--and I was completely honest in it--but after I got a few comments and tweets talking about how impressed people were with the way I seemed to manage everything so well, I wanted to come out and make one thing a little more clear:

I don't know what the hell I'm doing most of the time.

Seriously. I don't think any mom does! I mean, I've kind of managed to get it together and "balance" everything so beautifully when I'm working most of the day and HAVE HELP (thank god for nannies), but when I'm home with my kids all day by myself? Well, that's a different story. Maybe it's because I'm out of practice doing it solo now, but I'm still totally struggling on those days. Stuggling is too kind a word. Panicking maybe?

The irony of the WWGD piece is that, that very day, my nanny had to take the day off. I couldn't get a sitter, which meant I was home alone with my kids by myself the entire day.

And it was HARD. 

And to provide you with a true balanced view of the life of a mom, I wanted to give you a play-by-play of that day--a day when I'm not wearing Louboutins and testing lipsticks all day, then coming home to smiling, happy cherubs. So, here it is: A Day in the Life of a Working Mom...Who Is Playing the Part of a Stay-at-Home Mom for the Day.

4:52 a.m. (yes, a.m.) - The dog wakes me up, so I grab the baby monitor and go downstairs. Try to catch a little more sleep on the couch, but that isn’t happening, so I grab my computer and start checking social media, catching up on news, etc.

5:20 a.m. - I hear my daughter calling for me. This is unusual. Typically, she'll just come downstairs when she wakes up. It’s a little early for her—she usually "sleeps in" until 6 a.m.plus it’s still dark out, so I guess that she probably had a bad dream and thinks it’s still the night. (Which, um, it kind of is!) I go into her room, put on my stern "Mean Mom" face/voice, and ask what the problem is. She tells me she just really wanted me to lay next to her for a few minutes. I soften immediately. I lie down next to her and she puts her arm around me and says, “Sometimes you just need a little love.”

5:45 a.m. - She’s apparently bored of love—and says she’s hungry. So we go downstairs. She asks for "my regular," so I make her five frozen mini pancakes and two strips of bacon in the microwave. I bet that's totally what Martha Stewart made for her daughter every morning, no?

6:00 - 7:55 a.m. - I spend some time on the computer, load up the stroller, prep my son's bottle, jump in the shower, and get my daughter and I dressed.

8 a.m.  – My son wakes up. I quickly give him his bottle and feed him a lightning-fast breakfast.

8:20 a.m. - We briskly walk to school to make drop-off. (It's the first week of school, so they have a "slow start" schedule, which means I'll be back to pick her up in just three hours.) I run into my friend Andrea outside school and we walk to Starbucks together on the way home. I start to complain about how I’m going to have a crazy day since my babysitter took the day off and oh my god I'm freaking out, but then I realize that Andrea is a stay-at-home mom to two boys under five while also being approximately 11 months pregnant with her third boy (seriously--she was having contractions that morning). So I shut up.

9:00 a.m. - We get home and go down to play in the playroom. Also known as: an hour or so of trying to stop my son from putting Barbie shoes in his mouth. After a while, we hear the dog going crazy, so we come upstairs to find that he has destroyed my son’s favorite book and eaten half a diaper. (Clean, but still.) I look at my phone and feel a mild panic when I see that it is only 10:30. It feels like 3pm. HOW THE HELL IS THIS POSSIBLE?

11:00 a.m.- I feed my son a little early. Lunch is a strip of bacon left over from the morning, several chunks of feta cheese, and some cut-up strawberries and pears. I will not be photographing this for Instagram. My usual good eater doesn’t really want to eat though and mostly just wants to scream because he sees the Goldfish on the table and just wants those. After awhile, I head into the kitchen to grab something and the dog jumps up and eats everything left on his high-chair tray.

11:30 a.m.- I secure my son in the stroller and we head out to pick up my daughter from school. Okay, big confession here: We’re leaving a little early so that we can stop by McDonalds to pick up a Happy Meal for lunch. Let me stress that I never get McDonalds for my kids. (They do eat it occasionally, but only when my husband buys it for them.) But it's 11:30 a.m. and I'm already overwhelmed, so I decide to be the cool (and lazy) parent today and surprise her with it. But I’m worried what the other moms will think when I show up at her very health-conscious school toting a McDonalds bag. That’s when I—and I shit you not—bring a huge empty purse so that I can hide the McDonalds bag in it.

12:00 p.m. - We pick up my daughter and no one seems to see (or smell) my McDonalds shame.

12:28 p.m. – My son has gone down for his nap. My daughter is sitting at the table eating her lunch and absentmindedly playing with "Bunny," her beloved lovie (who looks like a collection of disgusting gray rags), when she suddenly screams. Bunny's tag--the old, frayed tag that's her favorite part of those old,  frayed rags and basically the ONLY part she cares about--is gone. The dog must have gotten ahold of it and chewed it off. We look everywhere. I wonder if I accidentally threw it away when I tossed the pieces of dog-chewed diaper, so I have to sift through the trash looking for the stupid tag. I take every single revolting piece of garbage out of the trash. No tag. 

12:45 p.m. - After washing my hands ten times, I start making some pasta for myself, then bring the dog out back to go to the bathroom. As soon as we come back in, I have a very gross lightbulb moment: Could Bunny’s tag be in the...dog poop? OMG. It so totally could. Do I dare? Yes people, this is how much I love my daughter: I go outside and poke the pile of fresh doggy doo repeatedly with a (very long!) stick to look for the tag. While poking, I hope to God that this is the low point of my day. Punchline: I do not find the tag. What I do I find: When I come back inside, I see that the dog has peed on the kitchen floor. In other news: Is anyone interested in adopting a dog?

1:30 p.m.  - My daughter complains that she is bored, so to buy myself a few minutes to finish my lunch and relax, I hand her a newly-arrived American Girls catalog and a pen and tell her to flip through and circle things she likes. (This is my version of an arts and crafts activity. What do you think, Pinterest?)

1:35 p.m.  – She has finished circling every item in the catalog and now wants to watch a movie. This is the best news I have heard all day. We cuddle together on the couch, while she watches Barbie and the Secret Door (btw, what does it say about me that I think the music in this movie is actually kind of great?) and I get some computer time.

3:29 p.m. - My son wakes up. Bless his sweet wonderful baby heart for sleeping a full three hours.

3:30 p.m. – We spend some time playing in my daughter's room. My son keeps turning on her musical Cinderella bank and dancing to "Bippity Boppity Boo." My daughter tries on princess costumes and pretends she's in a dance recital. She asks me to play the part of the dance teacher. I say, ok, but that I'm going to be a "sitting-down teacher."

4:17 p.m. - We head downstairs to find that the dog has eaten a half of a banana that was sitting on the counter—skin and all. I grab my computer and Google: "Are bananas poisonous to dogs?"

4:30 p.m. - After a sippy cup brawl (both kids wanted the pink one), my daughter asks for ice cream. When taking care of kids, nothing beats an outing, so I relent and we head to Ben & Jerry's. I even order a small cup for myself; I get "Chocolate Therapy," which is much needed. After ice cream, we head to the park for about an hour.

5:45 p.m. - We're back. While the kids are playing and I'm scrounging together a dinner, I take maybe ten seconds to reply to an email from my husband and in that time, my son crawls into the dog crate and starts chewing on the Kong toy. Gross.

6 p.m. – Everyone is eating. Chicken, rice, and broccoli. I glance at my phone and realize that, since my kids go to sleep at 7:30, I only have an hour and a half left. You see, comparatively, the time before bed is relatively easy. Bath, teeth-brushing, books—there are activities, instead of a big void of boredom you have to fill. It's the home stretch. I can do this. 

6:45 p.m. - My husband would normally be home by now, but he's working late tonight. Awesome day for that to happen! So bathtime is all me.

7:25 p.m. - After reading a few board books, I take my son to his bedroom, sing to him, and put him in his crib. (One down!) Then I head back to my daughter's room and tell her she gets one more story. She chooses "Someday," which for those of you who don't know, is the SADDEST book of all time. It's about a child growing up, leaving home, and becoming an adult. Oh and in the end, THE MOM IS DEAD. I always get tears in my eyes reading it, and tonight is no different, but what surprises me is that this time my daughter does, too.

"Why are you crying?" I ask.

"Because I don't want to live away from you!" she says. I tell her that I don't want her to ever live away from me either, but that one day she'll go away to college. She says: "Don't worry! I'll just go to Columbia college!"

I smile and tell her that that's perfect. And that if she goes to Columbia, she can still live at home with us. She thinks about this for a bit and then says, "Okay, but if I live with you when I'm an adult, you have to still buy me clothes."

7:30 p.m. - I tuck her in, sing to her, and lay down next to her in her bed. I kiss her cheek and we put our arms around each other, laying forehead to forehead for a few minutes. "I wish work wasn't a thing," she says, squeezing me tighter. "I don't ever want you farther away from me than this. I love you."

And that right there--that's the kind of thing that makes the tough days like this worth it. The screaming, the boredom, the never-getting-a-moment-to-yourself, the dog-poop-poking--it all fades away in these moments when your four-year-old puts her arms around you and tells you that she never wants to be far away from you...

...And then goes to sleep so that you can have a glass of wine.

If you're a mom out there, tell me: Does your day ever look like this? Do you ever have stay-at-home days when you're going crazy? Please say yes!


Lindsey said...

This makes me laugh. I have SO been there. I wrote a post a year or two ago about the Working Mom Snow Day (aka nightmare) ... and I don't know what I'm doing, either. xox

Emily L. Foley said...

This is fantastic. I work for home–full time–and have no full time childcare. I can relate. We literally just get through one day at a time with no deaths (or major injuries) and me meeting deadlines, and I consider that a victory!

Possessionista said...

Love this. Love you guys.

AdraKP said...

I enjoyed your honesty Alyssa. I am struggling to find a balance between taking care of my 2 month old, cooking, laundry (w never ending spit ups and saliva lol) and everyday cleaning. I think I might have to ask my husband to take care of the laundry from now on. I can only split myself in so many ways...

On a happier note: I LOVE your daughter s personality. The things she says LOL

CarrieR said...

This made me laugh. As a full-time working mom, I can totally relate!

Kat - An English Mamma in Stockholm said...

Oh, so many things that have me - also a working mum - nodding my head. I dread the days when one of the boys is sick and I have to work from home while juggling keeping them snuggled up, fully fed and entertained.
And the crafty activities? Oh yes, the boys do love to make collages with clippings from the business newspaper. I don't know why there are not more Pinterest pins on that ;)

Tammi Johnson-Young said...

This makes me smile! I was a SAHM to 4 and run a business with my husband. Funny thing is you find a rhythm and balance along the way. Honestly I admire your ability to balance home and work! BTW - I think we have the same dog Lol!

A Day in the Life of a Drama Queens Momma said...

Ha! Sounds so familiar! My daughter cries about "leaving me someday" too! (She is five. I am sure this will change when she hits those tween years. My 12 yo can't get out fast enough... lol)

Rachael Boley said...

I love this... And oh my goodness the sweet moments with your daughter. ❤ my son's have been sweet like that here lately (they're always sweet, in between regular toddlerness, but it's been more lately) and it melts me no matter what else has gone on. Those are the moments mommy hearts beat for! This was hilarious and so sweet and so true! Thanks for sharing!

Kimberly F said...

My weekends at home with my boys are soooo much more stressful than my weekdays at work! I loved this post! So much I could relate to! And we also have a food stealing dog that chews all the kids' toys and papers up! Oh- and I love the mini pancakes! I usually serve mine with microwave sausage links! LOL

Twitchetts Blogspot said...

This is truth and for stay at home mothers an everyday thing... It can be exhausting, but like you stated at the end of you day you always have at least one moment that you will hold in your heart forever.

shelah moss said...

It is so true! I am no longer a stay at home mom but when I was it was all encompassing. The only way I survived was getting out with my mom's group.

MrsMuffinTop said...

Every day is crazy town at my house!!!!! You learn to live for those special moments, and it's not so bad, especially since they change so quickly!

Traci Rhoades said...

When my daughter was probably about 6 or 7 months old, just starting to be mobile, I remembered thinking what on earth were we going to do all day. She couldn't do much but every day loomed in front of us. We did something (still not sure what) and now that she's in school most of the day, I never have enough time. Seasons.

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