I’ve been doing some thinking recently about some misconceptions about my job title. It’s not just my job title, it’s the title given to a huge number of parents. In my head “staying at home” conjures up memories of staying at home with the kids for sometimes days at time during Indiana snow storms. For those days using up all my creativity to entertain them because we couldn’t leave. The feeling of cabin fever after a days of being stuck inside experienced by ALL of us. I was definitely a stay at home mom then.
The other memory it brings back is being a first time mom of a newborn. You stay at home then because your life revolves around their sleep. When they sleep you try to be at home so you can sleep too..or eat..or take that shower you’ve been wanting for hours. I was definitely a stay at home mom for those first few months after my first was born.
Not so much after the birth of my second child. I’m sure many parents relate to the fact that you kind of lose that luxury when you already have a child. There isn’t really that ability to put the baby down and take a moment as often. Your other child(ren) will want some attention. They will have been waiting for that one-on-one time you promised. In those early days of transitioning from one to two children I floated around in a sleep deprived fog. I wore a lot of my husband’s old dress shirts that would be covered in finger paint and baby puke by mid morning. I really didn’t want to leave the house, it felt daunting to go to the grocery with a 2 year old and a newborn. I felt filthy and exhausted and frankly found it hard to string two thoughts together.
I remember vividly a friend coming over to see the new baby (our second). She was now out of this stage, her youngest was the same age as my oldest (2 yrs old) but the memory was still fresh of being in the stage I was currently in. She said the wisest thing I didn’t understand at the time. She said “when you go from 1 to 2 kids you become like a bird. You fly around going from thing to thing never really ever landing anywhere.” I have replayed and shared her wise words many times over the years to myself and to others. I would remind myself that I wasn’t any different from the other birds, they never landed for long either. Maybe their nest was also a mess too. Maybe they couldn’t remember why they went into that room either. Maybe they also left the house in two completely different shoes like I did one day!
6 years later and I still feel like that bird. My kids are older now and both in school but I still never land for long. I no longer call myself a stay at home mom, I changed my title to House CEO…I also call myself the CEO of the International House of Richardson..got a nice important to ring to it, huh?
When the kids are school and I am actually home I’m moving from thing to thing. Cleaning, food prep, organizing, countless loads of laundry (where is it all coming from? I’m convinced that there are other people living here I don’t know about!). I’m scheduling dentist/doctor appointments, paying bills, meeting repairmen, you name it! It’s all on a calendar and a corresponding list that never seems to get completely finished but it’s a goal! I meet the kids at the bus stop after school (some days it seems like an hour after just dropping them off, time flies so quickly!) and it’s on to afternoon snacks and homework and prepping for what’s next.
I spend so much of my days NOT at home. I volunteer at school at least once a week. I run everybody’s errands-everything from the dry cleaner to the post office to picking up supplies for school projects. Returning library books, vet appointments, buying gifts for birthday parties, prescription pick ups and grocery runs. Chauffeuring kids to school in the morning and lessons after school. School programs, tutoring, camp drop offs, play dates, karate graduations..yeah none of this happens at home!
In summer most of the above continues but I am also entertainment director. Loading myself up like a pack mule for trips to zoos, beaches, parks and splash pads. Sweating my way through looking at the same zebra I just saw last week and applying sunscreen 87 times in two hours because this is Florida. Loading up picnics and countless snacks and waters for even the shortest trip because my kids are hungry literally every second in the summer! Don’t even get me started on the planning, errands and running around it takes to get ready for family vacations!! None of this happens at home.
So does the stay at home mom title fit me anymore? I don’t think so, it did once or twice for a few months but not at this stage in motherhood. I’m done having babies and there are no freak Florida snowstorms on the horizon. Many of you are in this place in life too. You are everywhere but at home! When you actually are there you are crazy busy or an entertainment director or both.
My definition of CEO is that you’re the person who runs things. You are house cleaner, chef, waitress, nurse, personal assistant, teacher, occasional warden, chauffeur, camp director and counselor. You are the messy ponytailed wearer of yoga pants that makes it all happens. You are many things at many times. Your hours are not set, there are no sick days or lunch breaks. I cannot count how many lunches and dinners I have attempted to eat while in the car from a baggie!
So I propose calling our jobs what they really are. We do not “stay at home”. We are the mama bird CEOs of our nests. Someday in the future that nest will seem eerily quiet, all little birds will grow and go out into the world. We will miss this chaos, the dirty socks and dioramas, the play dates and the packing school lunches. We will look back and be proud of our now grown babies. We will be happy we were there for all the moments big and small. The details of this life.
For now smooth those feathers, pat yourself on the wing once in a while and know you’re just like all us other birds! You make incredible things happen, you are necessary and important and you deserve a “job title”to match what you accomplished today and what you will continue to accomplish tomorrow. Janet