working and staying home.

by Liz on 07.18

Maggie shared this post a few weeks back and I read it with interest.

I never know what to call myself, so it makes the situation a little more complex (probably only to me). You know how people ask, “What do you do?” when they meet you? When people ask me, I usually end up telling them my entire life story, ending it with, “And then I quit my job. But I still consider myself a teacher! But I’m staying home for now. But I also paint sometimes. And I write. Or at least I blog. Is blogging the same thing as writing?”

So I often wonder about the difference between being a “stay at home mom” and “working from home + kids.” Is it in the wardrobe? Power suits versus mom jeans? (Nevermind, I’m talking about blogging. Sailor stripes versus mom jeans.)

I spend a lot of time working. More than eight hours, I’d guess, though I don’t exactly have a timecard. But I don’t think Little J is neglected. He’s fed, clean and happy for the majority of the day. I stop working if it looks like he needs me to kiss a boo-boo or incite a spur of the moment Eddie Money dance party (the kid loves 80′s music. Such a hipster). So if both the business and the baby are fine, what’s the missing piece?

The house goes to shit.

That probably sounds like a not-big deal. Whatever, lady, he makes a mess. Clean it up and stop whining.

NO, FRIENDS. No.

Those people who say “motherhood is a full-time job”? What they really mean is, “Cleaning the house after that tornado of destruction sweeps through is a full-time job.”

It’s kind of a choice among several evils. Either I cage him in his room or that godforsaken play pen, or I put baby locks and gates all over the drawers and shelves, or I let him explore and deal with a constant mess. Literally. Constant.

I think if I were at home all day but not working, I’d be able to pick things up as he pulls them down. He tears through the bookshelf, I scurry behind and replace the books. But, now, I just sit at my desk and just keep a watchful eye to make sure no giant, heavy books are ready to land on his tiny toes, and otherwise let them fall where they may.

I plan to set aside days to catch up on housework- there’s always a sink full of dishes, a basket of laundry that hasn’t been folded- but catching up is impossible, because there’s so much daily maintenance. Each meal and snack leaves a sticky smear on the highchair or a pile of crumbs on the coffee table, often so much food on him that I just dunk him in the bathtub.  I’ve contemplated running a garden hose through the kitchen window and cleaning up after meals that way. Still trying to talk Josh into that one.

I remember my mom saying something about housework being like stringing beads onto a thread with no knot at the end and that’s the most accurate description. It’s endless. The mess I just cleaned already needs to be cleaned again, and I haven’t even tackled the rest of what’s been spilled, emptied, or scattered from yesterday. He’s already started on messes for today.

So that’s my story. You can work from home while being a stay at home mom. Just be ready for a disgusting mess of a house.

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