Everyday at noon it’s the same innocent question from my 9 year-old. “What did you do this morning?”
I have just picked her up for lunch from school and it’s normal she would ask me. I ask her the same thing, after all. But since I have become a stay at home mom to her little brother, I get that deer caught in the headlights reaction. What have I been doing since I dropped her off at 8:45?
So I run off a litany of chores, if I got around to any.
“Ermm, I unloaded the dishwasher. I fed your brother twice. I watched an episode of Jane the Virgin…”
Sometimes she’ll say, not unkindly, “that’s all?”
Yes, that’s about all I can get done with a baby I am still breastfeeding four to five times a day in addition to his fruits and veggies. Not to mention keeping him calm/occupied while I try to do something else between feedings. And making sure he has some tummy time (but not right after a feeding!) to develop upper body strength and practice rolling over. And maybe getting a load of laundry in. And maybe making my bed. And maybe ordering groceries online.
I am not bitter. I am not overwhelmed (ok, a little). It’s just that the world that continues humming outside my house doesn’t always seem to get that taking care of a baby and running a household takes time. And every morning when I wake up with a to-do list imprinted in my brain, I know full well I won’t get to half of it. Or whether I complete it or not depends a lot on how my baby is or if he graces us with a nap (that would be just about never).
Frankly, the transition from working mom to staying at home wasn’t as difficult as I thought. And I have been thrilled to be home with my little one and to be able to spend more time with my big girl. What bothers me is more the perception by others that I’m not doing much. Or maybe that I feel I must prove to them and myself that I am really doing a lot.
Sometimes I feel that same need to justify my hours at home to my husband when he comes home. Yes, we are eating a frozen pizza, baby was fussy… Or to my retired no-filter neighbor who points out the clutter and dust in my home. Yes, but you try helping a fourth-grader with her homework and calming a baby and finding time to dust!
But in the end it is myself I need to convince. I must accept that I won’t get it all done. I must accept that my house won’t be perfect. I must accept that buying cookies is ok if I don’t have time to make a cake for friends who come by. I must accept that less is more if it means that my baby is smiling and gaining weight. I must accept that my to-do list can slide, morph into something more flexible.
And I must answer without shame when my daughter asks me that question again, “I took care of your brother. “ Because that is my job for now, and I am doing the best I can.