I lost my job six months into motherhood. It felt like a sign. With the help of a small severance package and a supportive partner, I made the decision to exchange the office for full-time mom-ing. While the choice to stay home was an easy one, being a stay-at-home parent is more complicated than you’d think. It’s a job that’s both fulfilling and lonely. Many days, I feel privileged and overwhelmed simultaneously, guilty for not working yet very, very tired from working all day. (Can you sense the mindfuckery of it all?)
In addition to feeling the stark duality of my new role, I spend more time than I should fielding other people’s opinions about it. I get lots of, “Good for you! Mothers should stay home with their children!” And even more, “I read that kids develop better with working moms.” My personal favorite? “I’d be so bored. What the hell do you do all day?”
Here’s what I do all day:
6:30am: Wake up to the relaxing sound of a baby wailing. Enjoy a half-asleep dream that my kid decides it’s way too early and goes back to sleep.
6:32am: Roll out of bed, make and give the baby a bottle, and chug a cup of coffee.
6:45am: Hear the baby having a rousing conversation with herself. Peek-a-boo into her room and ask her what she’s been dreaming about. Explain to her that before she was born, I had never seen this time of day.
7:00am: Make an omelette and cut up some fruit. Watch the baby pick all the veggies out of the omelette, eat the egg, and devour the fruit. Wrestle to wash the stickiness off her, end up licking her fingers clean instead.
8:00am: Bring my daughter to the basement and watch her run around before remembering that brain development is most significant from birth to the age of three. Feel my first pang of daily mom-guilt. Climb onto the floor, teach her how to use gender-neutral building blocks.
9:00am: It’s time for her morning nap. Consider getting back into bed, clean the basement and the kitchen instead. Make the bed, throw in a load of laundry, get into the shower and use shampoo for the first time in three days. Get dressed and blow-dry my hair, then throw my hair up in a messy bun.
11:00am: Baby is up and smiling. Change her diaper for the third time today, get her dressed, read “Where’s Spot?”, and give her a snack.
12:00pm: Load the baby into the car and head to baby gym.
12:02pm: Forget my wallet in the house. Take the baby out of the car, grab my wallet, get back in the car, and forget the baby in the house. Get the baby, strap her into the car seat, finally pull out of the driveway.
12:30pm: Have my first adult conversation of the day. Think about going back to work. Watch my daughter proudly master a soft climb obstacle course that she couldn’t do last week. Think about never going back to work.
1:30pm: Head to the park. Push my daughter on the swing, feed her lunch, let her roam around, watch out for predators.
3:30pm: Put the baby down for her afternoon nap and start dinner.
4:00pm: Start writing a new article. I hear the baby make noise, so I cook her up a bottle to buy some time. While she’s still down I finish my sentence and change the laundry.
5:00pm: Feed the baby dinner, fold the laundry while she’s eating, and tidy up the kitchen. Try very hard to do it all. Realize that’s a shitty way to feel. Make myself a promise to strike “do it all” from my vocabulary.
6:30pm: Get the baby in the bath and laugh a lot while we splash each other.
7:00pm: My husband gets home and hangs with the baby while I finish up dinner. I ask him 900 questions about his day.
8:00pm: Read the same book three times on demand and get the baby into bed. Turn on the sound machine, hand her a pacifier, and tell her I love her like crazy before closing the nursery door.
8:30pm: Hear the silence and know she’s sleeping. Realize I miss her and seriously consider waking her up… or trying for number two.