Being a stay-at-home Mom can mean many things to many different people. To my kids it is day-to-day life that Mom is waiting at home with snacks, homework schedules and a hot dinner (most nights). They are so used to me being at home, their brief memories do not remember the days where I used to work and they had babysitters, daycare or a nanny to lend a hand as I scrambled from one meeting to the next trying to be home for dinner. My eldest asks me at least twice a month, “When are you going back to work? I want to go to the Y program after school with Ava!”
Usually I sigh patting her smooth hair and tell her, “One day you’ll appreciate Mommy being home. Mommy did used to go out to work.”
How do you explain to a seven and a half-year old the personal sacrifice from a career perspective you made because for your family, having at least one parent consistently home was something worth giving up other things? Mr. L is in no position to be home or share the “at home daily duties” having a wildly successful law firm, to be “the one,” so it’s me. It’s always been me and I’m okay with that.
To Mr. L it means taking off his shoulder the day-to-day responsibility for the kids so he can focus on growing his business. It means usually, his laundry is done and he has dinner at night to come home to, or at least warmed up leftovers. It is security that I’ve got it handled and will call on him if needed. It also means less of a strain on our bank account to figure out adequate daycare, before school and after school programs plus dog walker to help with Jake, our oldest family member. After all, we do have three children seven years of age and under. Daycare costs in this province, in our area, are high. So when you have multiple children, no other familial support in the nearby area and facing this decision as a family it is a HUGE consideration in your analysis.
To others, well, some get it and some don’t. I’m okay with that too because after all, each SAHP (I’m going to put parent because there are lots of Dads out there who opt to stay-at-home too) has most likely came to their decision in a very personal way and no decision is right. It is right when it works for your family.
For me, being someone who bounces between being energized by a to-do list full of potential to craving silence and solitude depending on my mood for the day, I spent September getting a feel for the rhythm of my days, training for a race, starting a writing class and potty training a toddler. I knew Thanksgiving weekend was going to be the time when “real life” started for me having two full days free a week as my little guy started preschool as I caught up on appointments and answered long forgotten phone calls and emails. So much time! What would I do?
Volunteering. I have always volunteered in my kids schools. I started when Elizabeth went to JK and have kept on going limiting my hours to a reasonable once a month but still helping out. This year I took on more. Taking on a coordinator position for a program at Audrey’s school for a snack program and volunteering in class at both girls schools. In truth, I could never be bored and just volunteer at their respective schools. So much help is needed in the classrooms and the teachers are so appreciative to that parent who takes an hour to come and read with a couple of the kids in class to help them get to the level of their classmates. As much as the teachers are wonderful, when you have a class of thirty students in a split JK/SK class that hour every week is precious time spent. I also like to be in the school and know what is going on. I think every parent should take the time to pitch in on something, even if working. There is always help needed to even drop off products for a healthy snack basket program and you can smile and get to know the administration who are the front guardians of your children.
Playdates. For some reason grade two means more social time requested by Elizabeth. She wants playdates, movie dates and each new parent I meet ends with an exchange of contact information to plan a playdate. As much as I prefer the kids to play in our neighbourhood and encourage spontaneous play and friendships with the neighbour kids, having a brood of three sometimes means that once in a while, one of them wants a little special time with a friend who may live a little north of us. Then of course, my younger girl wants her own playdate time with friends and so on down the line. I am surprised Jake the dog is not requesting his own playdates! This is something I will have to wrap my head around going forward as my little people turn into socialites.
Mittens. For the past few weeks I knew it was coming. A warm fall would give way to the briskness as old man winter turns an eye our way. It happened this morning. Thankfully I have turned over that daunting job of putting away summer clothes and getting out fall/winter clothes in September. My little guy finally had proper warm Bogs on his feet. It is just the hundreds of mismatched hats, mittens and scarves I have to go through and wash for five people. The smell test was given this AM and the winter wear that passed were firmly placed on three children’s heads and hands. Decked out in new coats courtesy of an overseas grandfather who sends new sets of clothes each season for his only grandchildren, my kids were at least dressed to face the cold winds.
So what does being a SAHP mean to me? Never being bored. Each day brings a variety of tasks to be handled and new things to learn. I enjoy being able to put most of my attention on one main goal. Having lived the life of feeling like I wasn’t doing my best at anything; work, family, kids, my own stuff it works for me. Sure I miss lunches out with adults, a nicer wardrobe and reading on the GO train. But I do not miss having to report to someone. I am able to carve out my days exactly how I want and to me, that is priceless. Like right now, I am choosing to work on writing this blog piece. And tomorrow, if I choose to watch Y&R at lunch while my little guy naps, I can. (Okay, to be honest, that never happens but I can dream that it may one day.) Not everything gets done on my huge to-do list, but I feel way more relaxed (as possible) at the end of the day that I got some things done. Who cares if I’m wearing five-year old Lululemon pants because giving up shopping for myself was a sacrifice? Jake the dog does not care what I wear to walk him.