Through my circle of “mom friends”, I recently met a lovely woman who is expecting her first child this fall. We hit it off right away and had a lot in common, so I invited her to go paint some pottery together a few weeks ago (side note: how is it that I can tackle just about any knitting pattern I want badly enough, and yet I barely made it through writing the words “Father’s Day 2017” on a mug with my sanity intact?).
(Asher decided the mug should really be his, since it has his footprints on it.)
As we were painting, my friend asked oh-so earnestly, “I’ve always wondered, what do stay at home moms do during the day?” Now, that could definitely be a loaded question, but in this context it wasn’t, so I tried to give her thoughtful and honest answers.
I told her about how much time it takes to feed Asher every day (he’s never been a very motivated eater, a trait he definitely didn’t inherit from me!); about how I read him both picture and chapter books each day; about singing and dancing along to my Baby Einstein station on Pandora; about watching Sesame Street together; about how he usually prefers to nap in my arms; about how any errand I need to run now takes about 3 times longer than it used to. It’s truly not a stretch to say that knitting is an analogy for motherhood–I do the same few things a whole bunch of times every single day.
Which is why I think that “how do you get through the day?” is a more interesting question than “what do you do all day?” to ask a stay at home mom (or anyone else, but I’m trying to stay relatively on topic for now!). The answers to the first question probably say a lot more about who a mother is than the answers to the second–after all, every child needs nurturing, so it’s not terribly enlightening to hear that a woman feeds and entertains her little ones. The first question, however, gets to the heart of the matter–it can be extraordinarily lonely to operate outside the workforce, and if the weight of that loneliness is not managed it will ruthlessly crush a soul.
These are a few of the ways I get through the day being home with a baby:
Audiobooks. Honest to goodness, I don’t know what I would do without the Audible app on my phone–I have a book playing for at least a few hours every day. I try so hard to continually talk to Asher, and I read scads of books to him (I just looked and I have 25 books checked out of the library, zero of which are not from the children’s section!). But it is so. dang. hard. to carry on a one-sided conversation all day, and even with a stack of books I eventually just run out of things to say! Audiobooks help so much with the *cricket*cricket*cricket* feeling I get when I’ve run out of words. Plus, I love that Asher gets to hear a wider range of voices and accents than I could otherwise expose him to, so it’s like a two-for-one bargain!
Knitting. That’s a super shocker there, huh? But seriously, knitting helps keep me tethered to my identity as someone other than just “Asher’s Mom”. In the tough moments of mothering (like teething, *shiver*), I can slip into a misery loop of “the only thing I will ever do for the rest of my life is try to comfort a crying child and my child is still crying so I’m not even good at the one thing I can still do”. It can be a bit ugly, to be honest. Knitting is tangible proof that I’m still in there somewhere, that I can still do things and do them well.
(“Mama, this tastes like sheep!”)
The New Yorker. This is another identity thing, because I’ve enjoyed this publication for years now. I honestly skip most of the articles about politics these days, so sometimes I’m only left with a handful of the columns each week; but even then, learning about things that are happening in the world makes my soul feel fizzy.
The local farmer’s market. This only happens once a week, but I really look forward to it! It’s so fun to listen to the live music, smell all the yummy things for sale, chat to other moms with strollers, and stock up on things like marinated mushrooms and homemade biscotti. And it’s probably made more precious by only occurring once a week!
Coffee. Trader Joe’s organic, fair trade kind. Need I say more?
So now, let me ask you–what do your days look like, and how do you get through them?