Lately there has been a lot of to-do over an attack on women here in the United States…mostly aimed at Stay-at-Home Moms like me. The “liberated” women feel we don’t really do anything, and don’t consider what we do as “work”. In the same way many Stay-at-home moms feel that these liberated moms need to spend more time being a mom and wife at home. In the middle are those moms who do both, or have done both…this is where I have fallen in the past. Truth be told, I’ve been in all 3 areas now. I’ve been that stay-at-home mom, the mom who stayed home that worked part time or worked full time from home, and I’ve been that mom who works full time outside the home. Of the 3 the two that are the hardest to do are to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, or a stay-at-home mom who has to work part time or work from home at the same time.
When I only worked outside the home and didn’t have to do all the housework, deal with children’s needs all day because they were in school while I worked, or do all the cooking, I had only a third of the responsibility that I have now. I was able to come home and cook every 3rd night since my husband and 2nd oldest daughter took turns cooking the other 2 nights, or because there was more money in the budget we could eat out more often. We cleaned house on Saturdays as a family, each carrying an equal share. With my youngest in preschool while I worked I didn’t have to deal with half the day of her needs, and when we were all home, my husband, older daughter, and I were able to split the time she needed in the evening and on weekends. Things were a lot easier, and that made working easier. The downside was I missed many of my youngest daughter’s milestones. Before this time I had been a single mom, who worked sometimes 3 jobs to support my daughters, and that was hard because I had to do all the cleaning, cooking, and still work while my daughters were either in school or at a babysitter. I missed even more than.
As a stay-at-home mom, working part-time or full-time work-at-home jobs I carried both my work load and all the normal mom and wife responsibilities. I worked either in theater and had to take my daughters with me so I could keep an eye on them, or for a while I worked as a home reader for Focus on the Family, which meant getting my daughter off to school, walking to the office, picking up mail, then walking to the office and dropping it off when I was done coding it to go to the proper office, walk home and pick up my daughter at the bus stop, then spend the rest of the day, cooking and cleaning, doing homework with my daughter, sewing, and whatever else was necessary for each day. I didn’t have a dryer, so I often had to sneak in a load or two of laundry, and hang them on the clothesline to dry. I often ate no breakfast and snuck in a light lunch of fruit and a salad just to get through the day. My ex husband didn’t think what I did counted as work, so when he came home he expected me to carry all the house chores including mowing, weeding, caring for the garden, and dealing with my oldest daughter’s need. He would just come home and sleep or watch sports on television. I often went to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning when my house work was done, and rose at 6 to get breakfast for the two of them and prepare my daughter for school. I really never had time to read a book, relax, and I can’t even tell you of one television show or movie that I watched back then.
As a stay-at-home mom now, my cup is full and overflowing! My to-do list for just this week and next is unbelievable. Here is what that list looks like…
1. Do laundry…this is a daily thing with my daughter and husband, even more when my granddaughter is here.
2. Clean the top floor of the house which includes the home office that I don’t use, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, the hallway and staircase, and my sewing room. This means dusting, wiping down glass, picking up toys, clothes, school things, trash that doesn’t seem to make it to the trash cans, cleaning the toilets, showers, tubs, mirrors windows, sweeping and mopping.
3. Clean the main floor, which includes the kitchen, livingroom, a bathroom, and formal diningroom. With this there is sweeping, mopping, cleaning the fans and lights, vacumning both the floor and furniture, carpet cleaning, dusting, window cleaning, glass cleaning, counter cleaning, appliance cleaning, cleaning the refrigerator, cleaning out cupboards and the pantry, besides the normal routine of doing dishes, and clearing counters and tables off.
4.Clean the basement, the staircase down to it, and organize the basement closet. This entails me to do more sweeping, mopping, clearing out things, dusting, cleaning windows, and straightening up all the things that Jk and my granddaughter have played with. The storage closet has to be organized to make room for emergency supplies, and I have shelves to fix in there that the kids have broken.
5. Clean the front porch, which entails me to sweep it, wash it down, water the herb garden and cut some of these herbs to dry for use. No one likes to do this job because of the bugs and spiders that collect on it. Since I’m not afraid of spiders this has fallen on me.
6. Sew culottes and shirts for my daughter to wear to camp next week. I have 6 outfits and a one piece bathing suit to make.
7. Sew summer clothes for my granddaughter. Her mom is a single mom, who doesn’t sew, and can’t afford to replenish her clothes for summer and for school next year. So grandma said I’ll do the summer clothes so that my daughter could concentrate on getting her school clothes. This is what happens when a father isn’t involved in helping with his child, physically, emotionally, or financially.
8. I have a stack of books to read and review for 3 different sites, and they need to be done this month. I’m talking like 20 books.
9. Cook meals.
10. Work on crocheted and sewn Christmas gifts for family this year. This includes about 8 prayer shawls, a couple of ponchos, a couple afghans, 2 quilts, and some fabric books and crayon holders.
11. Make a couple of dresses for a friend’s granddaughter.
12. Sew 2 new shirts for my husband.
13. Homeschool Jk through the summer for things she has struggled with this year.
14. Shop for groceries, and put them away.
15. Do Ironing.
16. Do all the mending for the family, tears, buttons, and hemming.
17. Clean and organize closets.
18. Write reviews for two books I’ve finished reading, and submit to 3 sites to publish online.
19. Watch my granddaughter, entertain her while Jk is at camp.
20. Get Jk ready to go to church camp next week. Clean her clothes, sew her clothes, and pack her clothes.
I could go on and on. This list doesn’t include my blogging, writing poetry, practicing my guitar and singing, tring to get a prayer shawl ministry at the church, or doctor’s appointments for the family including my own for my health issues. There is so much to do and so little time to do it in. In the past I would have conquered this list in no time flat. I had health, energy, and youth on my side. But now it is impossible and I have to decide what to put aside. The house cleaning seems to take the most loss. My health issues make it difficult for me to do certain things like wiping the floor boards, bending down to clean lower cabinets, and anything else that means bending near the floor or sitting on the floor to do. No one likes to clean toilets so I have to do that. I have to keep the fans clean because of my allergies, so that has to be done. Tubs and shower cleaning are split between Jk and I. She does her bathroom and I do the other 2 in the house. Jk tries to help, but she is more apt to make messes, than to clean them up. She likes to do it quick, but not right, which means I have to go back over what she has done. I find this easier than getting upset with her all the time. She has really become better at it. She likes to cook, and so does breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner for us, but she is still learning to cook so I often have to help and guide her through dinner. She has taken over the dishes for me, so that helps. She does help with the laundry, often changing them over because it hurts my back to bend over to do it. I fold the clothes, and everyone is responsible for putting their own up. My husband will help with dinner sometimes and usually makes sure Jk does her chores right. If I ask he will do some of the cleaning, but usually just gets in my way because he wants to do the things I can do. But I appreciate his wanting to be helpful, just as I appreciate Jk’s help.
Everyone wants a perfect home, and thinks you should be able to keep it perfectly clean, and that is the way I used to be. I was almost obsessive compulsive about it. But with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis I have had to change the way I think about cleaning. I’ve had to accept that I can’t do all the things I use to. I’ve had to decide to be happy with a lived in house that is free of germs. If a magazine or book is left somewhere, I have to be happy with that as long as the table below it is dusted. If the dog is laying on the carpet, I have to not be annoyed by the thought of it shedding and be happy that I have a new vacumn cleaner made to deal with dog hair, and that Lady is a good family dog who seems to sense when any of us are sick, and who loves to just be loved by the family. You see I’ve had to learn to give and take, to compromise in my feelings on what is done and how it is done. I have to take one day at a time, and do what I can in it. I have had to learn to work on something until my back hurts unbearably, then sit with my feet up and a heating pad on my back until I can get up and work again. There are a lot of things I need to get done, and very little time to do them in, but I will do what health and time allow me to do.
Being a stay-at-home mom is far harder than any of the others. I didn’t even include all the things that most stay-at-home moms have to do that I no longer do. They are taxi drivers for their kids…We have only 1 car so that has been crossed off my list for now. They are usually changing diapers, caring for babies, toddlers and school age kids at the same time. They are pulled in a myriad of directions, as they deal with homework for different aged children, cook dinner, deal with sibling rivalry, getting kids to do chores, disciplining, consoling, and loving their children, while dealing with a mental list of things to do to prepare for their husband coming home. A lot is said about them sitting home eating Bon-Bons and watching soap operas. I can tell you from experience that this isn’t so. Most women turn the television on to hear adult voices to keep them sane, since most of the time they are communicating with children and teens who have their own forms of language. They may eat Bon-bons or other candy, but it isn’t constant, but for that sugar rush that will help them get things done, or because they have no time to stop for lunch or breakfast. Moms of toddlers are often stopping to be the playmate for their child, to remind those little ones of safety issues with a “don’t do that”, and dealing with naptimes for these little energetic children. They are rocking babies to sleep, feeding them, and it never stops.
One thing that it is hard to make people understand. When you work outside the home, you are working 9 to 5, then going home. Your “work” is done for the day, and you don’t have to deal with it until the next day, and you get paid for it. Stay-at-home moms don’t get paid a cent for what they do. Their job never ends even after their kids grow up and leave the house. A stay-at-home mom doesn’t win rewards, bonuses, or promotions for what she does, and rarely even gets a thank you or any form of gratitude for what they do…SACRIFICIALLY, every day. They don’t get me time, not even when they are in the bathtub. I can tell you, children do not care when a mom is in the bathroom for any purpose. They will not walk in on dad, but don’t think twice about walking in on mom. I know, because in my house my daughters think that when I’m in the bathroom for any reason, they believe this is the time to talk about their wants, needs, problems, and so much more. I often say to them…”Does this look like a conference room?” It’s like they have you cornered at that moment, and they know it is the best time to ask for anything, because all you are thinking about is being alone. If you add to all this the nursing and doctoring moms have to do, and being the family receptionist, scheduler, and therapist, a stay-at-home mom’s life is pretty full to the point of overflowing. She is an amazing woman who can change a diaper, repair simple plumbing problems, build shelving, do room design and fashion design, along with a myriad of other jobs at the same time. She is a chef, an entertainer, a multi-tasker, a personal assistant, and Wonder Woman, all wrapped up in one. When she goes out in the Job World, most employers don’t even consider what the Stay-At-Home mom has been capable of doing. They just consider her to be the stereo type of a housewife. and never consider the talent it took to do all she does daily. The thing is she will be all these things the rest of her life, without notice, without pay, and without thanks. So the next time you ask your mother or your wife, to do something…think about all the things she is already doing for you, and show her some appreciation for it daily. The best way to show you appreciate her…HELP! Do some of the things on her list and do them right without being asked. Make a mom night, where she can sit and watch television, while other members of the family cook and clean without her help. Send her out for a spa day once in a while. Husbands, take on the kids when you get home, whether outside to play, or inside playing a game, just give mom a break from them. Also husbands, realize that when you get home and your wife wants to vent, it is because she needs to hear an adult voice, or needs to feel adult love and compassion from you. She needs to feel that she is loved and appreciated.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, realize your potential, your gifts and talents, and realize what a special woman you are. The world could not turn without you there in it!
June 9, 2012 at 10:56 AM
I agree so much…we have our daughter and her three children living with us. I gave up the “job” to take on this challenge. When the father is out of the picture the needs are tremendous in these little lives. The financial needs are big enough, but the spiritual and emotional needs can be almost overwhelming. I am thankful for the opportunity God has given my husband and me to help them live through the sorrows that all four of them face, and be used in their lives. The list of “to dos” seems endless, but at some point, I have to make a decision and prioritize the attack. Therein lies the dilemma…God bless you in your ministries!
June 7, 2012 at 10:17 PM
i have arthritis in my last two disc in my back, and i can do a few things and then i have to sit. my leg will start to go numb on me. it sounds like u r so busy that you have no time to think. make sure to take care of yourself my friend………
June 8, 2012 at 10:57 AM
I do and Jk makes sure I do. Yesterday she surprised me. Without me knowing it she had cleaned both the refrigerator and the pantry and reorganized them for me. Then after we got groceries she made me come upstairs and sit down and she put all the groceries away. She knows that all the walking it takes to shop leaves me in extreme pain, and just decided on her own that she was big enough to do all this for me. So now those 3 things are cleaned off my list. Today I’m sewing her clothes for camp and getting her clothes ready to pack. I had disk surgery on the 2 disk between my 5th, 6th and 7th vertebrae 2 years ago this month. I understand how stiff they can get, because I also have arthritis in my neck and nerve damage, that is why I have no feeling in most of my left hand. It really makes it hard to turn your head when people want you to look behind them, or to lean over and look in a cabinet doesn’t it?
June 8, 2012 at 11:34 AM
i so understand. i hurt my back in the beginning when i was trying to survive and pay my own way in life. i worked too many double shifts in nursing homes, damaging the discs in my back, later allowing for arthritis to come stay. would love to turn back the clock just to the point of no pains. i have diabetic neuropathy also in my finger. the writings help them so much, keeping them flexible. first thing in the morning when i get on the computer, my fingers keep going to sleep and i can not feel them. i shake and shake them. lol finally they come alive. have fun today sewing
June 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM
I found that crocheting helps keep my fingers limber, but knitting doesn’t do the same for them.
June 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM
i must think there is more finger action with crocheting?
June 8, 2012 at 12:10 PM
There is, and you don’t have to hold everything so close and tight. I can do both, but the crocheting has been such a help with the arthitis and carpel tunnel in my hands and wrist.
June 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM
that is wonderful. see how God takes care of our problems using what we have
June 8, 2012 at 8:15 PM
Yes, he does.
June 7, 2012 at 7:14 PM
Bonita, You’re going to love the title of the award I’ve nominated you for…it’s the ‘Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award’ …Diane for explanation and details see http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/a-few-words-about-awards/
June 7, 2012 at 8:05 PM
It’s the second nomination for it that I’ve received today! Thank you! You are right I do love it! When Terry nominated me for it this morning and told me I laughed thinking it was a joke. I asked her if it was for real…lol. I told her it was the first time I heard the word sparkly used in the same sentence as the Ten Commandments! I love it! Thank you again for the nomination. I’m hoping to blog all my recent awards next week, and will do this one along with the one from Terry.
June 7, 2012 at 6:47 PM
I have been a stay at home mom for 32 years and I would never change a thing. I have been blessed by God many times over. I have 6 children youngest is 17,I homeschooled 4 of them.I thank God I was able to use the talents that God gave me. I have 7 grandchildren and I babysit 2 of them twice a week. I love my family and God has seen us through some trial and tribulations and we just keep on walking the narrow road,we know where it will lead. God Bless you and believe me all the hardships and joy will pay back a hundred fold.
June 7, 2012 at 8:02 PM
I believe each child that graduates from high school is reward, and acknowledgement that you did something right. I think the one thing that women’s lib did is take the stay at home mom out of the place of honor she once held in soceity. Women who stayed at home, raised their children, and oversaw the household use to be held in esteem as women, but in this soceity we live in they are looked down on. As someone who has been on both sides of the issue I wanted to make clear that housewives, and stay at home moms should be honored because they do more than a normal job ever entails. I wanted to remind husbands and children to take time to consider what that woman in their lives has made a difference for them, and think about how that mom or wife has made their life better. I’m thrilled to get comments from women like me who have been the stay-at-home mom, and are glad they were despite the extreme amount of work and lack of gratitude it entails. Thanks for commenting!
June 7, 2012 at 4:52 PM
I’m tired just reading about what used to me a big part of my life also…not the sewing and making clothes..never….But the working part-time and full-time and still maintaining a relatively tidy and clean house and looking after our children…Those were difficult days…Unfortunately I also suffered from frequent bouts of depression….but fortunately I had a very willing and able husband who helped tremendously when he could….Now things are very quiet for us and for that I am thankful… take care of yourself Bonita..you deserve a quiet respite…..and a warm bath lol….Diane
June 7, 2012 at 7:54 PM
It is a great deal easier with a supportive husband, but I’m looking forward to the day that we can relax more and cleaning will be easier with just the two of us…lol. I think being older, you can see clearer than younger women can about what being a housewife and mom is like, and I hope that sharing this will help people from both sides of the arguments to see that there are good and bad to all life decisions for moms, whether it is to work or not to work. But I also wanted to encourage other stay-at-home moms to realize the talents and gifts God has given them to do the job they have, and that it is also a gift not to have to work outside the home and see your little child’s firsts. Those are special times that so many do miss, the first tooth, first smile, first crawl, first step…and so we should also understand how hard working outside the home can be on women who have to work, especially single moms.
June 7, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Wow, I’m encouraged at what you do for your family!
Sure enough, when people do not have experience in an area, they assume..and you have wonderfully displayed here that being a stay-at-home mum, whilst having many perks, is also very challenging!
I commend you for what you do daily!
You said you had fibromyalgia, have you heard about the vitamin MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)? I take it in the pill form (with no fillers – it is more effective this way) and I’ve known it to be helpful in reducing the pain associated with fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Here’s an article that I thought could help http://www.natural-health-and-healing-4u.com/benefits-of-msm.html#axzz1x8pI0U6w
Talk to you physician about it..I don’t know..but it could help you 🙂
June 7, 2012 at 8:07 PM
I will check out the link. I’ve never heard of it, and would have to talk to my doctor and allergist about it, since I’m allergic to many meds, especially any with magnesium in them. Thank you for the link, and for the wonderful comments.
June 8, 2012 at 8:07 AM
I have a lot of allergies too..so I use these MSM capsules: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00016AHIS/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00 (VCaps) in opposed to the normal ones (without the green label at the bottom that says VCaps) because everything else but these (I’ve found) have fillers in them (which most people have allergies to)..I’m not sure about the powder though..but I know that the ones I take do not have magnesium, they just have MSM which is plant derived 🙂