June 12, 2009

Can you keep a secret?

Zoot had a great post yesterday about her own stresses as a working mom - the post stemmed from one those Momversation videos (to which she links as well.) In a sweet irony, she lists a few things that stress her out as a working mom that describe why I hope I never have to work in an office again:
IN CONCLUSION: They did an entire video about working Mom stress and no one mentioned daycare struggles or frustrating commutes. What about the guilt when you only see your kids for three hours a day? Or the guilt when the weekend comes and you realize that 14 hours in a row may be too much? Does the laundry pile up? Do you find yourself sitting down for dinner at 9pm? There are so many other Working Mom stresses that could have been addressed and weren’t. I respect those women are all working Moms and maybe some of them do work outside the home, but no one was discussing the factors that so many of us deal with every day. How many times do you use your lunch break to run an errand for the family? Do you choose a daycare close to home or close to the office?
The irony? She also discusses why she could not be a SAHM:
She writes:
Let me start by being completely honest: I could not be a Stay At Home Mom. It’s not because I can’t play trains for five hours, because I can. I like the playing/crafting/activity part of being a Mom. It’s the cooking/cleaning/bathing/tooth-brushing part I hate. And I feel like a great SAHM either (a) Considers those tasks part of her obligations and doesn’t mind doing that stuff as well as care for the children or (b) Considers her job raising the kids ONLY. Therefore, the HOUSE stuff is still to be divided equally with the spouse and the spouse agrees. I think they’re both legitimate ways of looking at being a SAHM/WAHM, but I just don’t do either successfully. I would become bitter. And have proof because my 2 separate 12-week maternity leaves left me very bitter. Ask my husband.
Later, she goes on to say:
Being a SAHM/WAHM has it’s own set of stresses I know nothing about. And I don’t want to know about them. That’s why I work outside the home. You SAHM/WAHM don’t get a designated vacation from your job. What the hell? Shouldn’t the be a law against that? You don’t get raises, or even minimal recognition. There might be struggles with your spouse: Do they appreciate your work? Do they undermine it? Do they take you for granted? It’s a different set of problems to worry about from the ones women who work outside the home worry about, like: Did I just leave the house in two different shoes? Again?
And she is right. On so many levels.

I do feel some bitterness. And it has been building for the last year. Why? I am responsible for everything in this house. Everything. It is my J-O-B. Ant infestation? 'Tis my problem. Indian meal moth larvae? It is my ass on a ladder handpicking those fools off of the ceiling. Home repairs? I arrange for all of that and make the decisions as to what should be done based upon what we can afford. Laundry? Me. Dishes? Me. Hot water tank dies? Me. Air conditioner on the blink? Me. House needs painted? Me. Lightbulb changes? Me. Me. Me.

Granted, in some respects, I have it pretty easy because X has been working from home on and off these past few years - he is definitely an equal-opportunity parent and chef. But he has never done house repairs and grew up in a house where his father did not do them, either. I know how to do many things around the house, or at least know what needs to be done and can appropriately explain it over the phone. X simply does not know, nor does he have the time to learn right now. Besides, for Our Situation, his time is best spent doing what he is doing.

However, did you read that statement about "working from home"? I repeat, MY HUSBAND WORKS FROM HOME. Which adds an entire other level to my stress. And I am so not kidding on the "work". The very last thing I can accuse my husband of is being lazy - the guy works all the damned time.


The work that he does is the sort of work for which he gets a pat on the back. Work that gives him mental satisfaction. When my ass finally got off of the ladder after taking care of all those larvae, no one said "Great job, Kelli!!" and instead of feeling proud of myself, I felt I needed to hose myself off in bleach. And sadly, that was a time when I really needed some kudos because that was one of the most disgusting things I have ever done in my entire life. Ever. Moth larvae? Totally trumps 2 small children who are both in diapers. For reals. This is not a drill, folks.

So, yes. I am a little bitter. And I do point out to X how my work is the grunt work for which I will never earn accolades. And he tries to be appreciative. Because he knows.

Why bother being a SAHM? Did you notice in my litany of complaints that I did not complain about the kids? Because they are the easy part, folks. They are why I try not to complain about the monotony of my life. They are the part that reward me on a daily basis with the adorableness, no matter what the contents of their diapers may bring. The kisses, the hugs, the maniacal laughter. Anjali is in her "I love you, Mama" phase - I hear that statement ALL DAY LONG. It keeps me going. And Arun? Is in his Astute Logic With a Twist phase - his thoughtful observations on life and people in general entertain me and make me think all day long.

I am extremely grateful that I do not have to fight traffic during a long commute any longer. That when my kids are sick, I can drop everything and hunker down at home. That I can get up in the morning and decide willy-nilly to go to the zoo or the children's farm. That I get to see my children all day long and am not limited to a few hours in the evening. Because truthfully? They are not at the top of their games in the evening, they are happiest late morning/early afternoon and I would resent paying someone else to see all that that. I want to see that. So yes, I would have it no other way, this Bitter SAHM Business.

But if I ever catch two moths bumpin' and grindin' in my kitchen again?

I am going to torch the house, seek a new identity and run for the hills.


kristen said...

I saw that Momversation too. I had pretty much the same response as Zoot. I sometimes wish someone would write a post about what it is like to be a working mom that only works to pay the bills not because she loves her job so much. There is a whole other set of heartaches that come up there.

I'm pretty sure I could make enough deep cut backs to be able to stay home but it would mean such a radical shift in lifestyle that it would put a major strain on my marriage. We are already very frugal and not living an extravagant lifestyle by any means.

So Cagey you sometimes resent having to do the mundane and sometimes gross chores of SAH motherhood and I resent some of the things that go along with WOH motherhood. I guess no one's life is ideal. Sigh.

CPA Mom said...

I hadn't seen that (I don't follow Zoot) but I'll go pop over now.

I'm with Kristin above - I work because I have bills to pay. Being a SAHM would be lovely but seriously, will never, ever be in my future unless I win the lottery.

That is what pisses me off about the so called mommy wars. Being judged for working when I have no choice.

LuAnn said...

Great post, Kelli--I really admired your explanation here.

Anjali said...

Kelli, awesome job with the larvae. I'll send you a check in the mail.

I agree with the above. The real heartbreak is for the working mom who has no choice but to work. The pros/cons of WOH or SAH seem so pointless to me sometimes, because they imply choices that many just don't have.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

You're one of a kind, Kelli. Just the thought of moth larvae makes me want to crawl under my desk.

meno said...

Great job on the moth larvae!

Thanks for emptying the dishwasher.

I love that all my clothes are clean.

The bathroom looks really nice.

The above are all for you! :)

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Sorry, I just watched that particular "Momversation" and started laughing out loud. I've read a lot of offended posts from people (esp. as it relates to the statement about playing trucks) but how can anyone even take the "Momversation" seriously? It's one big advert for Tarjay. The panel is cherrypicked for a "Target*" blog audience (upper middle class white females) and they go on and on about stuff they may or may not have any experience in, putting their feet in their mouths along the way. It's like one big infomercial.

If I really wanted to know about the different stressors of working vs. stay-at-homing motherhood I'd call up two representative samples and ask. Except they'd probably both be too busy to talk to me!

*I'm mentally patting myself on my back for this pun.

Olivia said...

I'm with Kristen and CPA mom. I think guilt about working is a luxury for upper middle class moms who have a choice about working. It's not for those who have to work.

Anna said...

Oh, amen sister! Sounds like we have similar husbands, and boy am I resentful of the accolades he gets out of his job. I work outside the home, but I'm still responsible for the majority of the housework, sickdays with the kids, and all the detail work - doctor and dentist appointments, renovations, yard work, etc. All this because I have the "flexible" job, and he has the one that requires loads of overtime.

Do I sound bitter?