If I could just make it until 4 pm, I can put a movie on for them and by the time it's over, he'll be home and I'll have a small bit of relief.
It's only 10 am? HOW? I've already done school drop-off, changed pee sheets from last night, did three loads of laundry, emptied and re-loaded the dishwasher, entertained a toddler, finally found where I put the magic erasers so I could clean the wall my toddler drew all over... and it's not even time for her nap yet? Again—HOW?
Write that down. You need to remember the form for the field trip. Add that doctor's appointment to your phone calendar. Order the gift for Grandma's birthday so we don't forget. Change out the clothes sizes, she's not fitting into 2T anymore. Get more of those paint stick things. Oh and new Play-Doh, we had to throw ours out… Or find that recipe and make homemade playdough instead.
These are my thoughts. My stay-at-home mom brain pre-pandemic. The never-ending cycle of reminders and to-do's and movement and lists and constant work, work, work.
I've been a SAHM on and off for the past six years. And even during my working stints, I've never worked full-time. Or out of my home. So even during working seasons, I've always been some sort of stay-at-home/working mom hybrid.
Honestly? I like both. I like being a stay-at-home mom and a working mom. They both have their beauty about them. And they both certainly have their tricky spots, too.
But one thing I'm realizing during this season of quarantine: I bet no one will underestimate the work of a stay-at-home parent ever again after this.
No one will doubt the level of effort they are putting in at home.
No one will doubt the many, many hats they wear—chauffeur, chef, teacher, therapist, entertainer, storyteller, magic maker, memory documenter, cleaner, sibling referee, etc. etc. forever.
No one will doubt the strength they have inside them as they handle some sort of jumping-off-the-couch-injury, snack requests, meal planning and whining—usually at the same time.
No one will doubt their parenting as they wait for the storm of their toddler's tantrum to pass as they walk by them in the grocery store.
No one will doubt how heavy that feeling of failure can be when you can't seem to get a handle on balancing all the many overwhelming things on your plate.
No one will doubt how real and how strong that urge is to list out all that you've accomplished at the end of the day, because while the house looks like it has been ransacked, you've actually gotten so much done.
No one will doubt the fact that stay-at-home parents are a hugely important part of our society as a whole. That their work is just as important and valid as anyone else's.
That is my hope.
Because when you're the stay-at-home parent who often feels like they are schlepping around from one thing to the next, without a moment to yourself, without a moment to breathe—often lonely but yet, also constantly surrounded by people—you wonder about your worth.
You compare yourself to your partner who has a full workload of meetings and conferences and emails and Excel spreadsheets. You watch friends post on social media about promotions and feel a twinge of jealousy. You wonder if this is your life's purpose. You wonder if what you're doing even matters.
I'm grateful the world now fully realizes that what we do every day does matter.
It matters a whole lot.
It matters to your partner who can go into work every day knowing their children are cared for and loved on all day by you.
It matters to your children who have their mama at home with them, helping them learn and grow in a safe and comfortable environment.
It matters to your best friend who is a working mom because she sees you and recognizes the hard yet beautiful work you do every day—and she is proud of you for it.
And it matters to our society as a whole. Because you are putting your all into raising good, decent humans.
Yes—the secret is out.
Many people now know the feeling of being bombarded by tiny voices all day while people are constantly touching or climbing on you while you are also trying to get stuff done.
They know the push and pull of wanting to do this, but needing to do that. Or needing to do that, but wanting to do this.
They know the irony of making a "set" schedule that completely implodes right before your eyes.
They know this 'job' comes with 'work' that can't be turned off. It's 24/7, 365.
It's an honor.
And it's important. So very important.
The term our society usually uses may be "stay-at-home mom," but actually, we don't typically like to stay at home. We like to get out of the house and go on adventures and run errands and interact with the world. So this quarantine is hard for us, too. Sure, we may be more familiar with a lot of aspects of this isolation life, but this is hard. Period.
So, yes, the jig is up. No, we don't sit on the couch eating Bon Bons all day. (Though that does sound appealing.)
We work our tails off from sun up to sun down—mentally, physically, emotionally.