As a working XX parent, I've always wondered what it would be like to be a "Stay-at-home Mom," hereafter known as S.A.H.M. Sure, us working moms go through all of the "Am I a good mother?" or "I can't believe I missed that performance" moments. And then there's always the rare occasion when we drop off or pick up our kids from some event wondering if the other moms think we're the “Slacker Mom.” In fact, I can even recall a few times when I picked up one of my children from some soccer game or after-school program only to hear the adult-in-charge say, "Well I'm sure you're okay to take (my child) because (my child) looks just like you." Nice. For years, I've introduced myself not by name at elementary school auctions or Girl Scout sleepovers, but as My Husband's Wife or My Child's Mom. Everyone was always very nice. And I'm sure the judgment was in my mind, not theirs. But geez, a mom as "the parent that's never there" does seem to carry a bit more stigma than the reverse. (Working XY's, I know you feel it too. One of my old bosses used to break into "Cat's in the Cradle" every time he missed a parent teacher conference or, gulp, birthday.)
Okay, enough whining about missing first steps (I did) and plays and graduations. I do my best. But, recently, I got to explore the mysteries of those who don't hit the bus or the train or the traffic jams. I got to be S.A.H.M. for a month.
My last job finished in early March and I didn't start my new gig until April 1. Suddenly, I was a full-time S.A.H.M. (with a strong XY work-at-home back-up if needed right there. But I can promise you, he took full advantage of the break and deserved every second of it.) So, I went to work. I got up every morning by 6:30 a.m. to get kids up, make breakfast, make lunches, walk one to school, run home and get the other one to the bus stop. I can do this. Yeah. Breakfast was easy. Lunch seemed super easy. But after the third day, my XY wandered out of bed to peer at one of my children's lunches. "You know, you can make other things besides PB&J. You can make tuna." Well, I had been making Ramen soup in a Thermos. Quesadillas wrapped in foil. Lots of PB&J's, yes. But tuna? Hello. I would gladly give up my life for my children 1,000 times but there's no love deep enough to make me open and inhale a can of tuna at 6:50 in the morning. PB&J it was.
I was eager and always ready to run a forgotten homework assignment or project up to school. The lady at the front desk of the school started to chat it up with me. I was doing pretty well with this whole S.A.H.M. thing. But the whole "Which day is practice for Child A, and where does the kid we pick up (or is it drop off?) for tae kwon do live again and what time is that?" is pretty tricky. While I can orchestrate an entire new business pitch in record time or tell you just at a glance whether a TV script is 30 seconds long or 33, I can't for the life of me remember the difference between the (seemingly) thousands of randomly-named parks where soccer, baseball, softball and other unidentified practices are held. (Much to the chagrin of my XY, who CAN'T BELIEVE that I can't remember a park's name and location after one or two, or uh, ten visits.) Then there was the early school release day (what day was that?) and the Friday night practice ("What masochistic coach set up a Friday night practice," I innocently asked. Silly me.)
Over the month, the moms (and dads) were all nice and happy to see me every day on the blacktop. Yes, they knew me my name (and always have) and made small talk with me as I stood dorkily waiting for my child. The weather was unbelievably phenomenal so I got to walk miles and miles every day, and when I occasionally saw another S.A.H.M., we'd wave and smile. The excitement of my kids at the simple idea that I would see them off and be at home when they got out of school was wonderful, yet heartbreaking (cue "Cat's in the Cradle").
It was a fabulous month. An unbelievable memory. A great way to say goodbye to some great S.A.H.M.s and other parents that I never got to spend enough time with in the first place. But I think my proudest S.A.H.M. moment was one Monday when my XY looked at our child's clarinet case sitting quietly in the corner of the dining room with panic: "Oh no," he said. "We're going to have to take that up to school." But then, I gently reminded him that clarinet was Tuesday and Fridays, not Mondays.
Score one for S.A.H.M.