Ever since my daughter was born, my status as a sort of stay-at-home/sort of working mom (part-time from home) has been leaning way more toward SAHM territory. It’s a struggle to work even half the number of hours I did when we only had one kid. My rational mind knows that taking care of two kids under four is plenty of work in and of itself, but part of me feels vaguely guilty that my financial contributions to the family are so minimal at this point. If I’m not doing a whole lot of working, it feels like I need to step it up in the homemaker department. Trust me, I never aspired to be the cliché 50’s housewife vacuuming the house in pearls, ready with my husband’s robe, slippers and a stiff drink the moment he walks in the door. But somehow I do find myself feeling inadequate when my husband gets back from work and the house looks like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.
Let me be clear – my husband has never spoken a word to even imply that I should be doing more (he’s a smart guy). But that ugly question so frequently directed at SAHMs always seems to hang over my head: what do you do all day? This question is absurd on so many levels (I mean have you met a baby? Or a toddler? Like ever? Kinda needy!) Some days just keeping them alive and relatively happy is about as high as I can set the bar. But the nagging feeling lingers, the sense that I’m totally not nailing this SAHM thing because my house is not ready for a Better Homes and Gardens photo shoot on my average Tuesday night.
But then I realized something. Every bit of mess you see in my house is a testament to the work I’m actually doing in the business of raising these kids.
Those crumbs on the floor? Those are the remnants of the approximately 18 meals and snacks I prepared for my 3-year-old, all to his exacting standards (ham in perfect alignment with bread corners so no cheese is visible underneath, toast with at least one visible chunk of butter in all four quadrants, fruit with all traces of skin and mushy spots removed).
The baby swing in the bathroom and sink filled with this ridiculousness? That’s how the kids stayed occupied so I could take a shower today.
The strips of yellow paper all over the floor? Those were tickets from our ride on the Polar Express, aka the living room couch. We had to pull the emergency brake because there was a cow on the track, and the tickets went flying. You know, the usual.
The elaborate train layout taking up the entire downstairs hallway and rendering it impossible to pass by without tripping? That’s how my toddler stayed entertained while I was cooking dinner.
The pieces of toy food covering every inch of the play room floor? That was an epic game of grocery store that got a little out of hand (you know how that goes).
The pile of laundry in the corner of the room? Each piece of clothing represents an outfit change and/or cleanup operation from a major spit-up, blow-out poop, or total soaking (see above re: how I took a shower today).
The wet footprints on the dining room floor? The result of a trip to the backyard to check on our tomato and pepper plants (but really an excuse to get out of the house after the afternoon thunderstorms).
Now just so y’all don’t go thinking I’m a total slob, I do actually clean my house. That pile of clothes in the corner makes its way to the washing machine eventually. Those train tickets will probably end up in the coffee table drawer after bedtime. Those crumbs will probably get swept up while my little guy watches his morning videos. But if you drop by my house before all those things happen? I’m gonna try really hard not to apologize that the house is a mess.