Saturday, August 18, 2007

"And just what do YOU do all-day-I'm-sorry"

I was just thinking that, with fall just around the corner, I'm going to have to be more creative and efficient in order to get everything done. Both of my jobs are only a few hours each week, but they both get a little busier in the fall; I'm co-directing a Wednesday night kids' program at our church this year; Elise has just started potty training in earnest; I have a lot of Christmas projects I would like to make; and we'll have family staying with us over Thanksgiving. There are baby showers to plan and attend, holidays and birthdays to observe, reunions and going away parties, and so on and so forth. It's not as hectic as I made it's not like we have to do all of these things in one week. We're talking about the next four months here. But still, I'd like to plan ahead a bit and stay on top of the daily tasks so as to help everything run smoothly.

Thinking about this brought to mind two remarks that friends have made that have stuck with me. The first was made by Andy's parents' neighbor, a WWII veteran who is nearing ninety and has more energy than I do. Some time ago, his wife had surgery and had to stay off her feet for a while. The man had to take over his wife's usual responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, etc., and he threw in a great deal of good-natured grumbling while he was at it. One day he came inside after having hung a load of laundry on the clothesline to dry and complained to his wife, "I'm doin' the work of three women here!" Of course his wife laughed at him and immediately shared the story with her friends, because he was merely doing what she has done every day for the last five or six decades.

The other remark was made when a friend of mine was commenting that they were short-staffed at her company, and she was carrying the workload of two people. Someone else (not a parent) jokingly said, "Well, Em, you should just have a kid so you can stay home". Immediately another friend - also not a parent, but remarkably in touch with the work that comes with being one - piped up, "Yeah, and then you could do six people's jobs." And all the stay at home moms in the group cheered. Well, okay, we just chuckled, but we were cheering on the inside.

The truth is, being a parent is hard work, and it's really difficult (for me, at least) to describe that work to someone else, which is why, I think, some people wonder what in the world we stay at home parents do all day. And the descriptions that we do manage to get out sound pathetic. "I, uh, well, I change diapers and give baths, I clean up crushed Cheerios, I sing Old MacDonald, I clean and cook and do laundry, I rescue my child from the room that she has locked herself in, I try to hang up the phone before Elise's call to South Africa goes through..." But you know, that's all right. So I may not be able to make someone else understand what it is that fills my days and why I enjoy it so much. Doesn't matter. Because at the end of the day, my little girl will look up at me and say, "Mommy sing 'Teedle Teedle Yittle Star' and wub Elise's back?" And all will be right with the world.


Anne said...

Yes, it's hard work, but it's GOOD work. Not every moment is thrilling or exciting or fulfilling or fun, but I don't know any work that is all of those things all the time.

My mom was a homemaker, and she was home everyday when I got home from school, and she was at every school function, church function, etc. That meant so much to me even then that she was THERE for me. It means even more now that I know exactly what she was doing.

The moments with our children fly by. I've got a 15-year-old and a 13-year-old. Precious little time with them in our home is left. I'm so glad I get to be with them for most of it!

Heidijayhawk said...

so glad i stumbled nto your blog!!! rock on midwestern girl!!!

Retha said...

I chuckled too. But not about the exhaustion I now feel at 21:52!
A friend and I spoke a few days ago. On my complaint that I can't show anything O have done she said she often wonder if one must take a photo of the food you cook, dishes you wash...