Friday, November 15, 2013

What Do You Do All Day?


 I guess the question of the day today ought to be, Where have I been?

I'm sorry I've been missing lately. I haven't felt like there's been all that much to say, but more than that I've just been wrapped up in my spinning daily life.

What's keeping me busy in my daily life, you wonder? (I'm sure you don't, but I'm going to talk about it anyway.)

Well, lots of random things.

I've begun the two advanced-readers book groups that I'm leading at my daughters' school, which takes an entire afternoon once a week plus prep time in between.

My family had a big event for my grandmother's 100th birthday, and my parents came to visit.

I solo-parented while my husband went on a business trip to New England.

My girls are taking tae kwon do, and it meets two nights a week. (Fodder for another post: how much I FREAKING LOVE EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT TAE KWON DO.) We have never done weeknight activities before, so this is a huge change. The concept of eating dinner extra-early and fast in order to rush out the door to a sports activity at a time when I'd normally be contemplating pajamas is foreign to me.

Last year I began doing some after-school childcare for a friend, and I'm still doing that.

Yesterday was our farm's annual one-time "storage-share" pick-up, so I spent much of the day procuring and then finding homes for mountains (mountains! you should see my kitchen!) of root vegetables.

I'm hosting a sleepover for my daughters and their friends tonight, and in case you didn't know, sleepovers have morphed into pseudo-birthday party-type events these days, with planned activities and cutesy crafts and fun food and maybe a movie and fancy breakfast and some fun little "favor" to take home the next morning. I'm happy to do it (very infrequently. ha.), but my point is: Keeping me busy.

What else? The running, the walking, the Jillian Michaels circuit-training. The baking of the cozy fall treats. The kiddos' dentist appointments. The visiting my friend Jen's new baby and bringing homemade gingerbread to the postpartum mama. The constant laundry. The supervising homework. The errands. The usual.

Add to all that the fact that I'm hosting my mother-in-law for Thanksgiving again this year and that means I am responsible for every speck of planning, grocery shopping, preparation, cooking, and baking.

Are you still awake?

If you are, check out this recent piece on Salon.com. Ignore the sensationalistic "bully" word/angle (most likely "suggested" by an editor for its attention-getting ability) and just read it for the main idea. I found it very thoughtful and interesting, and that it articulated much of what my BFF and I have been struggling with and talking about this fall.

The best part was the comments of my friends when I posted the link to Facebook. ("Sometimes I say I'm retired. I just married better than most people." "People who are satisfied with their own lives don't go poking around in others'." "I decided LONG ago that I don't need to live my life or justify the choices I make to anyone outside of my husband. . . and he only gets to state an opinion, not make the final decision." (That one from my wise 60-something neighbor, a woman who has raised a gang of kids and is now a happy grandma.)

My own open and honest FB comment regarding the piece was this:
"Thinking about this issue a lot this fall... I think if a working parent asked me what I do all day, in addition to mentioning the obvious (being available when the kids aren't in school), the optional (volunteering at school, cooking and baking from scratch, dealing with all the farm-share produce), & the atypical (promoting a book), I'd also say, "...and I do all the family and household upkeep and management that you have to do in the evenings and on the weekends, so that our family's evening and weekends can be free for relaxation and recreation." That's really what we SAHMs do, and that is something that benefits the working spouse/partner in a HUGE way. Just a thought."
It's true. If I had to do all the things I listed earlier in this post--along with all my usual daily chores, tasks, and activities--only after six p.m. on weeknights and all weekend long, I'd a.) never have time to sleep or read; and b.) go nutso. As would my fam. 
Cheers! Have a good, and not too busy, weekend, dears. :)


6 comments:

Mommy Lisa said...

I am sorry, but your comment implies that I short-change my family by working outside the home.

Shannon said...

No, I'm sorry, but you misunderstood me. There is no judgment implied. I was saying that, literally, I get to do all the necessary family/household work during the day so that my husband and I don't have to use our evenings and weekends to do it, as two-full-time-working-parent families have to. Some families don't mind having to use evenings & weekends to catch up on chores and errands; but we do, and it is one of the benefits of the SAHM job, both for the SAHM and for the SAHM's spouse/partner, that we don't have to. It is one reason we chose to have a SAH parent in our family. Having more free time to pursue hobbies and/or relaxation is a benefit.

Of course paid jobs have other benefits (income, for one). And, flip side, the SAHM job has downsides as well.

Lots of people truly don't know what SAHMs of school-agers do all day until one points out that there's plenty of household work to do, it's just that when you work outside the home you do it all at night. THAT'S the stuff we do all day.

Bonnie & Dan said...

I would say most families prefer to save evenings and weekends for relaxation and recreation. We do! And yet, there are many paths to achieving the right balance. Many working-parent families find creative ways to complete household tasks without sacrificing family time or they hire someone to help with chores.

Perhaps Mommy Lisa is reacting to your assumption that working moms spend their nights doing household work and not in quality family-time. I don't think that is always true.

We all make sacrifices and question our decisions and deal with mom-guilt. I don't have a perfect balance, but it works for us most of the time as long as I keep family time a priority (followed by friends, work, food, and housework somewhere far far down the list).

Shannon said...

Bonnie and Dan,

Indeed, well put! There is no "perfect" balance. By being a SAHM, I take care of all the "household work" for my fam, but the trade-off is that I bring in no income so we have to go without certain things. Pros and cons! Right? :)

Mommy Lisa said...

That was exactly it - the way you worded that you do all the housework/household stuff during the day was all off-putting. My husband gets home early most days, so he makes dinner and picks up our child. I work later so I clean the kitchen while they do homework - then she and I read or something, maybe go to our girl scout meeting or kung-fu practice. We have weekends FILLED with fun and relaxing activities. Maybe I need to vacuum more often, but I don't care about that. And the comment "some families don't mind..." and "THAT'S the stuff we do all day." just proves that you feel your way is superior. I have a lot of friends who stay at home and I know they have a lot to do - I would never say anything about it EVER, and I hope they would never say anything like that to me either.

Shannon said...

@Mommy Lisa: I am so sorry you have misconstrued my intentions, because the only person I know my way is superior for is ME (& my own family). My point is that I would very much dislike not having the time during weekdays to get all the family tasks done, and thus to have to use evenings and weekends to do them. I am also sure that my husband would not prefer to use his weekend time--a great % of which he currently uses to bike recreationally, read, go to the coffee shop, sleep in, do fun stuff with the kids, etc.--at the supermarket or Target or cutting down the garden or cleaning the bathrooms. I'm not sure how much more objectively I can state the notion that "some people do those things at other times and don't mind it, we personally do not prefer that and are so glad I spend my workdays getting all that stuff done." Again, so sorry if this is offensive to you in some way but I am trying really, really hard to speak only of my own daily doings and what works for me. Cheers!