Happily Even After
I Sing of the Stay-at-Home Parent
by Stacey Noem
Joshua has written in the past about the times I might be traveling and he has been a solo parent for three or four days at a time. Well the last several weeks it was my turn. In three weeks Joshua was away from home for 12 days, including one stretch of 8 consecutive days.
I had more or less psyched myself up for this stretch of days for a while. I knew it would be a bit challenging but I had the strategy of relying on the children’s days in school to get things done. Then when they were home in the afternoons and evenings I could focus on good time with them instead of cleaning the house, taking care of odds and ends, etc…
It’s funny, when folks first heard Joshua was going to be gone for so long and that I wouldn’t be working for the week, they gave me this sympathetic look like, “You’re going solo full time with three children?” Never to be one for pity, I would pass it off saying, “Well, they are in school during the day.” At which point whomever would smile and conspiratorially begin suggesting any number of things I could do for fun with “all those free hours.”
Yeah, Lesson Number One of the Week Alone: There are no FREE hours.
My hours were pretty much divided between hours when I was directly caring for the children and hours I was indirectly caring for the children. Direct care included but was not limited to: waking, dressing, brushing, combing, feeding, packing, driving, hugging, kissing, dropping off, picking up, playing, reading, feeding, washing, leading in prayer, and tucking.
Indirect care included and WAS limited to: Making meals, cleaning up after meals and driving. SERIOUSLY, and I am not exaggerating, I felt as though I was constantly in a state of either making a meal, feeding children a meal, or cleaning up after a meal. It was so monotonous!
And the talking. Within a day and half of being fulltime solo parent my Facebook status was something to the effect of: “36 hours solo parenting and all my children do is TALK.” I couldn’t believe it. Just talk, talk, talk. They had comments about everything, all the time. How could I have not noticed this before?
I had a moment, I remember it SO clearly because I was stirring something on the stovetop, and I just suddenly realized: I am NOT a stay-at-home mom. Prior to that, because of our job-share arrangement, I had figured I had “street cred” in both mom worlds. There were days I was the stay-at-home / make-the-family’s-world-keep-humming mom. And then there were days I was the professional/I-have-to-deal-with-leaving-my-children-for-work mom.
But I got ‘NOTHIN’ on the real full time stay-at-homers. The self-sacrifice that it must take to interminably be in what must sometimes be mind-numbing monotony is not something I have ever had to face before this. Two days a week I get a free pass into adult stimulation.
As a 100% stay-at-homer I came face-to-face with the reality of what has to be named as some sort of courage. I already mentioned how monotonous the rhythm of meals got to be. But in order for the house to run smoothly, that type of routine is essential in pretty much every aspect of the household. So, what I think takes the truest grit is to come to the end of the day and deal with the fact that you have to get to bed JUST TO WAKE UP AT DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. How but by the grace of God, can we find the will to persevere?
So, I sing of the Stay-at-Homers out there who do this day in and day out. I sing of your perseverance; your selflessness; your careful driving; your listening; your chit chat; your compromising; your courage; your fatigue; and your love.
In you and through you, your children are blessed by God.
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