When I meet someone new, the inevitable question comes up, “What do you do for work?” After two years of shrugging and quietly saying, “Oh, I’m just a stay at home Mom,” I’ve adopted a new approach; I’m not JUST a stay at home Mom, I’m raising human beings.
Perhaps it’s me growing tired of people nodding and moving the conversation to more “interesting” topics. Maybe I’m bored with the assumptions of stay at home Moms. Perchance it’s that I’ve just arrived at an age where I don’t give a flying frick what people think of me anymore. Mostly, I just like challenging people to think outside the box.
Prior to having kids, it was easy to say what I did with my life. I had a job, I had degrees, I had hobbies. Still I have all of those things…but mainly, I keep the people alive. People respond very differently to, “I’m raising human beings and keeping them alive.” It’s action focused, sounds like fun, and it’s so positive! Am I positive that I am doing a good job? Moderately so. But I’m putting all of myself into it…every waking second of the day, and a good portion of my “sleeping hours.” Who really needs sleep?
Am I saying that working parents don’t also keep their people alive? No way. I did the working Mom role for three years and it was a very different kind of exhaustion. I was in Grad School when I had my first two babies and I was so obsessed with the Moms who got to stay at home, that they became the topic of my doctoral dissertation…which I never finished because I eventually became obsessed with actually staying at home with my people. And then I had THAT reality to deal with.
When your sole job is to keep the people alive, you naturally throw yourself fully into the position. You focus on all kinds of stupid details like which nature center has “the best” Mommy and Me classes for your 2 year old to cover himself in paint. You think that, since you don’t “work,” you can make all meals and snacks from scratch, so you prepare your shopping list and walk around the grocery store for an hour in a daze while frantically shoving food samples in your kids’ mouths. You create the most mind-boggling schedule possible to get everyone to their extracurriculars so that they become well-rounded 2, 4 and 6 year olds. You research the crap out of all decisions. You become obsessed with Zulily.
And then there’s the emotional endurance side of raising human beings. My little human beings like to TALK. I don’t get a mental break…EVER. Considering that I am an only child who welcomes alone time, this is very trying for me. I used to put the kids in the stroller and have my quiet time with a nice run. But today the 4 year old declared that she was going to run three miles WITH me. Yes, girlfriend made it all three miles, mostly walking the last half, but she talked the entire freaking time. No quiet time for Mommy.
This is where the raising human beings starts to wear on me emotionally. I know that they deserve my attention and I am determined to foster their sense of curiosity. Because curious adults solve problems and get things done in the world, and I’m grooming my little people to go out into the world and get stuff done. But can’t we be quiet for a little while?! I can make this whole parenting thing look easy on Instagram, but it’s a regular battle-of-the-wills over here and I’m not sure who’s coming out on top most days.
Going back to the “human beings” part of my job….my goal is to actually put good people into this world. Do I take that lightly? No. With the political and social climate of our world, my people have to be good people who will make the world a better place. Every moment is a teaching moment. And when you are with your kids all the time, you are teaching them ALL DAY LONG. Manners…getting along with others…taking turns…avoiding toddler on toddler violence…the list of teachable moments goes on as long as an episode of Caillou (forever).
I am not a trained teacher. I lack the patience that teachers seem to possess, yet my patience is summoned every couple of minutes in attending to needs, wants, scrapes, who hit who, wiping butts, and answering questions. Oh, the questions. I should just have “let’s Google that” tattooed on my arm for how often I say it each day. But they are important questions and I have to address them to the best of my ability.
I love my people and I am happy to be doing what I do. But let’s call it what it is – raising human beings. This deal is rarely glamorous. It is hard work and it is constant. And I used to do CrossFit, I have seen sweat and tears. This is harder. Every day is a marathon with these people. I don’t need to justify what I do all day. I just want to be more realistic about defining my job.