The Glimpse. Or “Just The Tip”.
A few years ago, I wrote a post called A Day in the Life. It still is one of my most-read posts. I think no matter who we are and what our lives are like, we all want to understand how other people tick.
Life is different for our family now, but there are still commonalities with how things used to be. For one, my desire to accomplish things/stuff hasn’t wavered, but my yearly review with my supervisor no longer is a metric by which I measure achievement. I’ll be honest in that even after being home for a year, I still haven’t really fully wrapped my head around my new identity. I’ve had a job since I was 13, and not being able to have an easy to explain title for what I do now has left me stumped in some situations.
And because the whole “us” vs “them” aspect of mommy wars makes me want to slap something, I should insert a disclaimer here. Nothing in this post is meant to come across in any way other than how things are for us. I’m not holding any aspect of our lives up as the right or wrong way to do something. In other words, our situation is not a reflection on others and nothing should be “read in to”. We cool?
I’ve never been one to sit still for long, and I love to be in motion and doing things. My grandpa used to say that I was like “a fart on a hot skillet”. Troy jokes that I think I am a shark – if I stop moving, I die. When people recommend that I “take a nap and relax”, it holds zero interest for me. I like to be busy, and I know I am happier when I am working on accomplishing a task. I am like a farm dog – I need a “job” to feel complete. A shark dog? None of us can really fundamentally changed who we are. My day time surroundings have changed, but how I operate is exactly the same.
On the other hand, there is also this part of me that feels obligated to prove that staying home to help my parents and blog was the right move. I put the same effort in at home that I did at work, and frankly if anyone ever thought I was being lazy, it would crush me. Say what you want about me, but having a strong work ethic is something I have always hung my hat on.
As a mom who worked outside of the home for years, I know how important it is to have back up help. We mainly had ours in the form of extended family that live in the area. I always tried to not rely too much on them, but knowing we had fall backs in the form of Troy’s parents, my aunt and uncle, and occasionally my dad for after school pick ups was huge. No one gets through life without leaning on others, and we were thankful to have had options. There were some days when no one was available, and we had to make do. That is life; some times we all just have to handle our shit. At the end of the day, we all do our best with the hand we are dealt, right?
I was once told years ago that working moms take advantage of stay at home moms, because they always expect the stay at home mom to pick up their slack. And no, this was not said by a female. A middle aged genius male without kids shared that gem with me. Therefore, one of the things that I was really insistent on when I stayed home was that I would make myself available to help out other moms when possible. We watch my nephew before and after school, and I know it helps out my sister because she has day care she can rely on. She doesn’t have to pack breakfast or snacks for day care any more, and we help my nephew with homework before she picks him up. In turn, I make a little extra money each month.
Jack has a friend at school whose parents are separated and doing their best to juggle their kiddo with two varied schedules. They have asked me on multiple occasions to let his friend come over before/after school or for a few hours on the weekend in a pinch. Thankfully, the timing has always worked out perfectly, and Jack is thrilled every time to have his buddy over. I see it as returning the favor for all the assistance we’ve been given over the years with Jack. And I am paying it forward because I have been there and know that most parents only ask for help when they are in a huge pinch. He has another friend whose father is away for work for months at a time and the mom is home with four kiddos. I see it as a humane service to bring her dinner every once in awhile, or just some cookie dough she can bake on demand. I’ve offered to take a kid or two off her hands a few times, but it hasn’t worked out. Yet.
Maybe, just maybe, if we stop comparing ourselves to others, or placing ourselves in categories, we would realize that at the end of the day we’re all just exhausted and trying to do right by our loved ones.
So, with alllllllllll that in mind, here is what a typical day looks like in our house.
4:30 – 5 am: Wake up. My alarm is set for 5, but I rarely last that long. Screw you tiny bladder and light sleeping tendencies.
5 am: Go downstairs to assist my mom for a few minutes.
5:05-5:35 am: Shower, make up, get dressed, get mah hair did.
5:35-6:00 am: I am a stickler for a full breakfast every morning, least someone get drop kicked because I am cranky. I have three scrambled eggs, a piece of toast (or oatmeal when Lent is over and I can have sugar again), and some kind of fruit in the morning with two, 12 oz glasses of water. Then, I sit on the couch and drink one cup of tea or cocoa (once Lent is over). Watch Law and Order rerun.
6:00-6:15 am: Make Jack’s lunch, clean up the kitchen, and start a load of laundry.
6:15-6:30 am: fold laundry dried last night. Watch the news.
6:30 am: my nephew arrives. He doesn’t want to eat right away, so he watches some TV, and I tinker/clean/laundry/blog work/read the news and have another mug of tea.
6:30-7:00 am (ish): Jack and Bennett usually wake up. Jack comes out to the living room with the disposition of a pissed off bear. Bennett meanwhile is busy throwing everything out of his crib while yelling “Mama”.
7-7:15 am (ish): Nurse Bennett, read three books (“1,2,3 books”), change diaper.
7:15-7:30 am: Let the boys play and be a gaggle of idiots in the living room while I tidy up B’s room and let the chickens out of the coop.
7:30-7:50 am: Bennett and I head downstairs to get my mom up and ready for the day. Jack and my nephew stay upstairs and fight like badgers with PMS.
7:50-8:40 am: Feed the boys, yell at them about 400 times to stop bickering, clean the kitchen up, and scream 12 times to “stop flicking each other and brush your teeth”.
Herd drunk cats Get the boys in the car with coats and backpacks (rarely happens that they remember all aspects of what they need for the day), and drive them to school. Both boys are open enrolled at one of the best schools in our district, which means we need to provide our own transportation as we’re not served by their buses. Threaten to take away cookies and smoothies after school if they don’t shut up and stop arguing about whether or not my nephew is actually sleeping in the backseat, or just pretending. In my mind I am chanting “shut up, shut up, SHUT UP”.
8:55 am-9:15: Change B’s diaper, read books, snuggle and then B goes down for a nap.
9:15-10:15 am (ish): B naps, and I haul balls to get as much blog work done as possible in that short window.
10:15 am (ish) – 1:30 pm: B has a snack, and then depending on the day we run an errand, go to library storytime, or my favorite – our long walks. My neighborhood doesn’t have mail service, so B and I get the mail from our PO Box at the post office on our outing. My litmus test for keeping on track during the day is hitting 10,000 steps by noon. There is lunch, chores, playing, and often as much prep work for dinner as I can get done before Bennett becomes a giant twerp.
1:30-3:00 pm(ish): B naps, and I’m back on the computer doing blog stuff. This is also the time I assist my mom some days, and do epic loads of laundry. Some cleaning and meal prep usually also gets done here.
3:15-7 pm: Get the boys from school, snacks, homework, nephew gets picked up, dinner, practice or a game for Jack depending on the season, bath for B, shower for J, dance party (for all), and bedtime for B. Jack goes in his room to read.
7-7:23 pm: I clean up the kitchen, tidy up the living room, switch out laundry, start defrosting things for the next day if necessary, and light cleaning.
7:23-8 pm: Jack comes out to watch the final few minutes of Wheel of Fortune, and then we watch Jeopardy together. We brush his teeth at commercial, and I wash my face at the first commercial, because I freaking hate the interview part of Jeopardy. I’d rather wash my face than watch Alex Trebek make awkward small talk and passive aggressively insult the contestants. He has turned in to such an ass. About 95% of the time, I am folding laundry during Jeopardy. Between diapers, our things, Troy’s uniforms, and my parent’s things, I do about three loads of laundry a day. That shit does not fold itself.
8 pm: Finally sit back down at my computer and work on blog work.
8-9 pm: At some point during that hour, my mom calls and I go down and assist her with her bedtime routine. Takes about 15 minutes. Jack has been reading during this time. He face times Troy, and then we do a quick snuggle and have our nightly recap. I ask him “what was the best part of your day, what part do you wish had gone differently, and what are you looking forward to most about tomorrow”? I’ve learned a lot about his life with these questions. I have also learned that boys are insane.
When I am done helping my mom, I typically try to do more blog work, but usually by that time I’m done with the day, so I throw in the towel.
10 pm: I floss and brush my teeth, call Troy, check on both boys and give them 312 kisses apiece, pee approximately 37 times, and climb in to bed. I am a terrible sleeper, so I have a hard time falling asleep, and staying asleep. I’ll be up at least four times during the night. So lucky, I know.
Lather, rinse, and repeat.
A few notes: if Troy is home he obviously helps out throughout the day. I’m spoiled in that if he is home, I can have a quick few minutes to myself and pop out to the grocery store alone. Some days I feel like I am cheating at this whole staying at home thing, because Troy is able to help, and Jack is at school all day. But then the flip side of it is, Troy is often gone for 24-48 hours at a time, so those days I am solo all day and all night. Nothing remotely compared to what single parents go through at all, but I will say on the solo days, my patience is usually razor thin by bed time.
At some point during the day, Bennett and I (or Troy) will make approximately 45,893 trips to see the chickens and look for the (wild) peacocks that live in our neighborhood. The constant refrain of “bawk bawks” is on repeat in our house.
Also, when the weather starts warming up, I’ll be outside more to work in the garden. And the clothesline will return, and thus outdoor drying season will be back in force.
When Bennett is a bit older, and we have more clarity on my mom’s cancer battle, I would like to work as a substitute teacher in our district one day a week. At some point I am certain I will return to a “traditional” work environment. I’m not sure “blogging about farts, food, that’s what she said jokes, and family” would be a value added notation on my resume. The substitute teaching aspect might show that I kept my skills fresh so to speak while not being in an easy to understand role.
All in all, our current set up is working for us. I feel a lot of gratitude that I had the choice to be able to work from home doing something I really love this time around. I’m appreciative of how our life stands at the moment. Things may change, circumstances may direct our next steps, so for now I am thankful for our situation. In looking back at my first almost seven years as a parent, I think it was better for me to work when Jack was little. He is an exhausting kid, and our negative qualities are too much of the same. It was very good for him to be in daycare, and very good for me to be at work. It made our time together better, and while I would of course change some aspects of it, it was the best situation for us.
There are have been weeks, months, and even years for us that were incredibly challenging both emotionally and financially. I tend to pretend that 2010-2013 didn’t really happen. Thinking about it too in-depth is still draining for me, and brings me down. Maybe we needed to go through those really rough times to appreciate when things got better. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t take life for granted, and I’m very thankful for getting to try something out. The days can be challenging, long, and hard, but it makes me better in the end.
That’s what she said.