Despite the sighs of pity some may offer at the mention of it, I embrace it for the gift it is and have absolutely no problem answering the what-exactly-do-you do question with just that: I stay at home with my baby. I feel no need to further explain I used to teach. Or I have hobbies. Or I do business out of my home. Or there are some days I think I work so hard I would surely take the I-did-more-than-you-today prize from any 9 to 5er. Because for me, it is the most beautiful job in the world, and based on my own memories of spending afternoons sitting on the worn shag blue carpet in our family room, making my way through the lollipop woods and molasses swamp in a rip-roaring game of Candyland with my mom or trailing behind her through a fabric store while she thumbed through Butterick patterns knowing a trip to the ice cream store--just her and i--was sure to follow...well, I can't say enough just how sweet those times were or how good it feels to be able to mimic as much of that goodness as I can.
And I don't take it for granted. I really don't. And I know so many mamas that would love to stay home but can't and I wish I could share the gift a little more. But I also know that there are all sorts of mamas...good mamas...and some need time away, love their work environments and have these flawless set-ups where their babies are loved and nurtured during the day and they come home and balance it all the same. Because they choose to work. And they're just as good.
And I guess the point I'm trying to get to is that yes...this staying home thing is just purely beautiful...but it's not always perfect. I would love nothing more but to bake and craft and read Goodnight Moon a trillion times to her while we spooned under cold sheets and planned our breakfast menu. But it's hardly like that.
I do work. I work at home...a lot. And while I think it is the coolest thing in the history of mankind that I get to both work and be with her, it presents its difficulties. I can't always read. I can't always craft. And there are many a times when i'm on a call, typing at the computer, answering e-mails, scraping burned scrambled eggs off a hot pan while holding her all at once.
But you know what? We rock it out. We really do. She's this super-cool toddler who finds things to do and with a little set-up can easily entertain herself with a pile of crayons, a cup of water, a drawer full of clothes to try on...while my presence is near. There are days where we bake, and days where we eat chicken nuggets. Days where three loads of laundry miraculously make their way through the entire line of command (traditionally stopping, of course, at that wrinkled standstill between Dryertown and Foldedland), and days where the dirty pile grows ominously on the bathroom floor.
Hold it. Perhaps I should mention the shakedown. Oh, the shakedown, a term invented by sister which, by definition, is the 45 minute blitz you frantically set out on right before your husband comes home which magically transforms your home into looking like you've been June-Cleaver-in' the place all day. Can't tell you how many times I've been gabbing with my sister at six o'clock only to wildly cut the call short with a "--Crap, I have to go...Shakedown time!" which is always met with empathy and a 'you'll-get-it-done' on her part. And I always do. In fact, if I don't say so myself, I've been known to turn a pit-gone-mad into Martha Stewart's living room, spit-shine the kitchen, throw something into the crockpot, turn the dryer on, light some candles, crank some Diana Krall, dispose of my pajamas, and smear some lipstick on in thirty-seven minutes flat. And he'll be all like wow when he comes home. And I'll be all like, if-only-you-knew.
But, all that aside...
Sometimes there are days like these.
Days when magically...we do it all. Like there were 72 hours in this one little day.
I mothered. The good-kind of mothered.
Instead of looking like one of the boxcar children, all oatmeal-covered and half-naked, we were cutely dressed and tightly pony-tailed by 7:30...right when the morning light streamed its welcome into her room for some early reading.
We crafted...and not just crayons and cheap coloring books. No, we're talkin' gluesticks and sequins.
We escaped to the park where the mid-morning breeze swished her pony-tails while she gasped and grinned on high-flying swings.
We picked up tuna subs and ate them on the ground, right there on dirt and grass with nothin' but nature...and headed home where she napped and I painted her nursery rocker a rich fallish shade of bordeaux to make its debut in our living room where new baby girl will be rocked and nursed and snuggled come January.
And afternoon had us winding through aisles at the grocery where she kindly helped me pick out bananas and tote bratwurst and peppers in her basket.
So there. Not to pat myself on the back--but oh, who am I kidding--totally patting myself on the back. Because, for all the times it doesn't work out. For all the times I've gone to bed thinking I could have done more. For all the piles of laundry that don't get washed or the Goodnight Moons that don't get read...there are days like these. When everything goes just right.
And that, my friends...is how we do it.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010