Friday, May 28, 2010

Stay-At-Home Mom

This morning I had a nice long hot shower. I even took the time to shave both legs. I got dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and then “got ready” for the day. “Get ready” in female speak means put on make-up and do your hair. This morning as I was going through the make-up portion of my beauty regimen (which I’ve never been very good at), I wondered if I had put enough on.

Ha! I remembered. Doesn’t matter! I’m not going to work today.

Then it was time to do my hair. I didn’t even bother to use the hand mirror and view the back of my head.

Who cares? I thought.

When I do go to work, I’m a substitute teacher in elementary school. I love subbing. It’s like playing school and it’s always my turn to be the teacher. This year I took on a couple of long-term jobs. I covered the maternity leaves of two different third grade teachers. I just finished the second one a few days ago. I loved both jobs. The classes were small and the kids were wonderful. We had a lot of fun together and hopefully I managed to actually teach them a few things.

But I’ve missed my freedom. And I’ve really fallen behind at home. How do all you real working women do it? Kent and the boys have been pitching in more than usual while I’ve been on these full-time jobs. I’ve been really glad for the extra help. Someone even changed a roll of toilet paper last week. He put it on backwards (paper coming from the back) and I haven’t even switched it around. And when they don’t fold the bath towels the right way (first in fourths, then in thirds and stacked in the same direction so that they look nice on the shelves), I’m just glad someone else folded them. And when they unload the dishwasher and put things away in the wrong place (even though they’ve lived here as long as I have), I don’t even care. These things usually drive me nuts.

I’ve been really lucky to have been able to stay at home with my kids during the past twenty-four years. (Twenty-four years? I’m kidding, right?) Actually, it’s been part luck and part sacrifice. We don’t have a ton of money, but it’s been enough. We’ve always had what we needed and then some. We’re not “stuff” people. I don’t even like stuff. (See March 12, 2010 post “Just get Rid of It!”) And fortunately we’re not expensive car people. (See February 15, 2010 post “Dream Car.”) We’ve got everything we want.

Well, almost everything. I covet my friend Judy’s oven. It has a gas cook top and a double oven – one regular and one convection. My oven door doesn’t close all the way. But it works fine. If I’m roasting a turkey or something, I duct tape the door shut so we can eat at a decent hour. But other than that, I can’t complain.

Except about the washing machine. We have a front-loading washer. I don’t like it. I feel like we’ve been walking around in dirty clothes for the past five years, but hey, nobody seems to notice.

Sometimes I feel bad for my husband who drives his little old pick-up everywhere he goes. He says he doesn’t mind, but he is a man. He probably secretly dreams of driving something with a little more paint on the hood.

If I had a real job, I’ve often thought, Kent could drive a little bit nicer car. If I had a real job, we could go ahead and finish the basement. If I had a real job, we could take another trip to Europe this year.

But if I had a real job, I wouldn’t have had time to make Joel French toast for breakfast this morning. (Mom, how come you never make me French toast or pancakes anymore?)If I had a real job, I wouldn’t have been able to baby-sit my neighbor’s one-year-old while she helped out in the kindergarten class today. And if I had a real job, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Florida for two weeks last month when my father had open-heart surgery.

Yes, I admit it. As the kids have gotten older, there’s a lot more down time. But I can fill a lot of it with substitute teaching and still have my freedom. I can always say no. No, I have an appointment today. No, I’m way behind on laundry. No, I want to make my son French toast for breakfast and then have time to do the dishes.

And I like being my own boss. I decide what I’m going to do each day. Bathrooms or laundry? Mopping or yard work? Reorganize closets or wash the car? Or maybe spend the day reading a good book or hiking in the canyon and catch up on everything later. I get to do what I want, when I want.

Some people think stay-at-home moms are oppressed. I felt much more oppressed as I worked fulltime. At home once again, I feel liberated. Another salary in the family couldn’t buy this kind of freedom.



  2. I could change the names and that entire essay would be about me and my family. So well spoken. I've often thought "Man, I could really increase our income if I'd get a nursing job." But, no, we've always had sufficient for our needs, which was what Marion was told in his patriarchal blessing. I've been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom...and I'm sooo thankful for it. Thanks for putting into words, again, the feelings of my heart! I just love reading Melinda's Essays! (maybe I should try it)

  3. You are an amazing writer! I think this should be published. It was such fun to read and I agree with all that you said! I love being a stay at home mom and Melinda, you can come cook on my stove any time you want! Keep writing - I love it!

  4. You can see the back of your hair with a hand mirror? Who would of known?

  5. Being a stay at home mom brings rewards that a dollar figure can't be put to or memories that will forever get lost in these busy lives we lead. You have your priorities straight. Way to go with another great article.