It’s not that life as a Roam-Around-Mom (my spin on the Stay-at-Home Mom) is way different than I expected. It is actually pretty on par with what I envisioned. But it IS wayyy different from any office job I have ever held, and it sure has taken some getting used to.
The working life was simple. I’d wake up, I’d get myself and the child(ren) ready, I’d drink a crap ton of coffee, I’d drop the child(ren) off wherever they were being cared for, I’d haul ass to work and still be late to arrive, I’d work, I’d take a lunch break, I’d work, I’d pick up child(ren), I’d eat something that would qualify as “dinner,” I’d get the child(ren) ready for bed, I’d watch tv, I’d sleep.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The “stay-at-home” life is anything BUT simple. It is a mish mash of dirty diapers and trips to the potty, art projects, naps and missed naps, dance parties, book readings (in funny voices), temper tantrums, snacks, museum visits, cleaning up spills, playground time, boo boos and band-aids, packing and repacking a diaper bag, household chores, time outs, and pretending to be a princess.
The only similarity between my life as a working woman and my life as a Roam Around Mom is that I STILL drink a crap ton of coffee.
So here are some of the important things I have learned thus far, during my first month as a full time mommy:
- It IS important to create a schedule. For my sanity’s sake, it is INCREDIBLY useful to wake up having SOME broad-strokes concept of how the day is going to be organized. If I were to wake up with no plans, no structure, and no backbone to the day, I’d be TOAST.
- It is also INCREDIBLY important to FORGET the schedule. Because trying to micro-manage an almost-three-year-old and a seven month old baby is like trying to tell football fans they have to eat well on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s just NOT going to happen. So yeah, it’s GREAT to have a library trip planned for the morning, and an art project planned for the afternoon, and a nap planned for 12:30 – 1:15 pm. But when those things DON’T happen because Oren is sick and/or Emmy is begging to go to a playground and/or I don’t have the materials for the art project I planned, it’s more than OK to come up with an impromptu PLAN B.
- The kids MUST listen to me. The first few weeks of full time mommying were ROUGH. Emmy had to get used to me being the voice of authority around here, and she started REALLY testing my limits. At first I was totally scared, thinking that Em HATED me, and that she was going to make it her mission to make my life miserable (you know, by running into the middle of the street when I was telling her to wait and hold my hand, by screaming when I was telling her to use her quiet voice, etc. etc.) But after the first few weeks, I noticed Em testing me less, and listening more. She has been paying attention, and I have been praising her for being so helpful and wonderful. Now if I could only figure out a way to make this dynamic last for, say, another 15 years or so…
- I MUST really NOTICE my kids. By doing so, I have learned SO MUCH about my kids this past month. I’m like THE EXPERT on my kids (when I was working, the expertise was more of a shared thing, between me and Em’s teachers and my mother-in-law). For instance, I now know that Emmy likes to eat three breakfasts. She eats one when she first wakes up, and then another one twenty minutes later, and then another breakfast about an hour later. It’s kind of amazing and also quite disturbing. I’ve also learned that Em has anxiety about me leaving her in the car by herself for more than 30 seconds (she does NOT like when I put away the groceries before I take her out of her car seat). I’ve also learned that Oren LOVES objects that have strings or wires, does NOT like the sun in his eyes, ADORES opening and closing doors (especially on his teeny tiny fingers) and he is a meat and potatoes kind of a guy.
- It IS important to do something for me, even if it only lasts eighteen minutes. I am definitely the kind of mommy who feels guilty about spending ANY time doing something for ME. It is just in my nature. But I am also the kind of mommy who feels 140% better about being a mommy if I just do a LITTLE something for myself, every once in a while. This past week I exercised for 18 minutes, while Oren was taking his morning nap. I asked Em to exercise with me, but she lost interest after about 3 minutes, so I had to ask her to be patient during the remaining 15 minutes. Even though this was a rather brief amount of “me time,” it made me super happy for the entire rest of the day.
- It is also VERY important to have “us time”. I feel bad for my husband. At the end of each work day, as soon as he comes through the door, I basically corner him and make him talk to me like an adult. It IS difficult talking about poopies and princesses for 9 hours a day, and by 5 PM I need a break from parent-speak SO BADLY. C and I have ALSO made more of an effort to get out together for a little “off duty” time, and it has been a life saver (and also beneficial for our relationship, of course).
- It is really helpful to NOT sweat the small stuff. By this I mean that when Oren is hysterically crying because he is super duper tired and doesn’t want his diaper changed even though he has the poop of a century seeping into all of his clothing, and Emmy is hysterically crying because she just spilled yogurt on her princess skirt and she is convinced this is a sure sign of the apocolypse, and I am also on the phone with the doctor’s office trying to set up my son’s nine-month check-up, and the Fed Ex guy is knocking on our door, and there is a grilled cheese sandwich burning on the stove top, and our toilet is overflowing, I find it VERY HELPFUL to picture my life as a sitcom, in which Maya Rudolph plays the part of ME, and everything horrible that is happening to me is actually VERY FUNNY to my (imaginary) live studio audience. Hey, whatever it takes to make me NOT pull my hair out during THOSE moments, right?
I know I am still such a NOVICE when it comes to this whole full-time parenting thing, and there is much to learn and experience in the months ahead. But if the past month is any indication, as wild as the ride is going to get, I’m gonna love (almost) every minute of it.