I am not a housewife

I’m a stay at home mom. If you’re like me, then the term “housewife” makes you bristle. I’m not married to my house. (Like I’d marry that mess!) The word “housewife” conjures up stereotypes of a woman at home in her housecoat, curlers in her hair, popping Valium, smoking, and shushing her brood of children so she can watch her stories.

I’m nothing like that!

I don’t own a housecoat. I spend my days home in my yoga pants thankyouverymuch. Totally different. Housecoat lady used to change and do herself up just before her husband came home. I don’t. I don’t have to. Yoga pants are nice.

Curlers? Puh-leaze! My hair is naturally curly. When it’s clean.

And Valium? Who does that? Half a Xanax here and there (totally different) just ensures that the kids have some memories of me other than my mean face. And that glass of wine is good for my health. (So what if I have big glasses? They were wedding gifts. Can’t be helped.)

I don’t smoke. Do I fantasize about 15 minute breaks outside all throughout the day? Uh, nope. Smoking is bad.

And I definitely don’t watch soaps. I could never waste my time on such tripe. Why would I when I have Grey’s Anatomy and Parenthood on my DVR?

So, before you call a modern mother a housewife, take a minute to remember how much we’ve evolved as a breed.

You Asked, I Answer

It’s been a hard week. L got sick in school on Tuesday morning and stayed sick for more days than I could stand he could stand. Recently I posted this status on my Facebook page:

Names and pictures obscured to protect the innocent.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that a complaint about being stuck home with a sick kid prompts someone to wonder why the hell I chose to take care of kids in the first place? If I were a working mom, would I have been happy about L being sick again? Can’t imagine.

Anyway, the question was a good one. Why am I a stay at home mom? How in the world did I come to this?

When L was born I was finishing up my Master’s degree. I spent my days home with the baby and my evenings at school. I fully intended on working. That was the reason for the degree after all. It’s not like I just felt bad for Sally Mae and wanted to send them money every month for the rest of my natural life. Finishing my degree coincided with moving out-of-town. Incidentally, my husband also finished his graduate school and was now just starting out a career where he would likely be the primary bread-winner.

When we first moved my attention was on my husband’s fledgling career, and getting acclimated to the new area. I spent my time and energy meeting other moms, taking 16-month-old L to music classes, parks, gymnastics classes, libraries and other assorted enriching places only to drag him out of them midway for bad behavior.

After awhile, I felt ready to return to work. I brushed off my resume. I had a brand new degree and was ready to finally put it to work. This was back in 2009. Remember what happened in 2009 with the economy? Turns out, jobs were hard to come by. Also, I suddenly had a higher standard for what my potential job should be. Not only did I have a degree that I wanted to justify with my great new job, but I also had a toddler at home that I’d have to leave. Whatever job I got, had to be worth leaving him for.

Now this might sound strange considering how miserable I actually was when L was a toddler. He was impossible. Our days consisted of me trying some wonderful activity, him being him, and me ending up totally disappointed and often in tears. Optimistically, I felt like I just needed to try harder, be a better stay at home mom. I also thought that at any second L would drop his impossible toddler act and turn into the wonderful kid I knew was in there, and I didn’t want to miss it when it happened! (Still waiting…)

This is all a long way to say that I’m a stay at home mom because when I was finally ready to go back to work, the right job wasn’t available. Then S came along and I wanted to give her the same mommy-attention that L had for his baby years. (Unfortunately for S, L beat the trying-wonderful-activities energy right out of me before she came on the scene.) Over the years I’ve applied to a few choice jobs as they’ve come available. I’m lucky to be in a position to be choosy about it. When I do go back to work, I want the job to be more than a distraction from home, more than a paycheck. I want a job where I contribute to something I believe in, where I can learn and grow, where I can sink my teeth into something meaty, interesting and challenging. That’s a lot to ask for.

(Also? I’m still secretly hoping to to be a real writer. It’s something that I love and am good at. Just about the only thing I can think of that falls into both those camps. I have a few book ideas in various states of incompletion, and this blog which takes a lot of my time and pays no money whatsoever.)