Day 25 - your day, in great detail
Yeah, so I suppose everyone who reads here knows that I am a stay at home mother. I have to say that being a stay at home mother was a strange fit for me. I consider myself a feminist. I had a successful, interesting and profitable career. I bought our house. I had always been the sole provider in our relationship until giving birth, and in fact, before leaving on maternity leave, I had never been in a relationship where my partner made more money than me.
When I decided to stay home, it wasn't made in haste or taken lightly. In fact, it was kind of like Princess Bride, when Westley describes being captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning. " Every morning I would wake up and think, "Oh, wow, that was hard, interesting and fun. I'll probably go back to work next week."
I didn't really want my identity completely tied up in my child. I didn't really want to lose my career. I didn't really want to be defined in relation to other people--husband and kids. I didn't want to learn songs and signing and have a Dora-splosion house. I didn't want to be the caretaker or play house, or do any of those things. I really didn't want to clean stinky things, or talk about diapering options with complete strangers. To be frank, I wanted to be selfish about my identity and who I thought I was.
Except that when I was home with Beezus, it fit. Better than I ever imagined. I loved it. I loved it all. I found it fulfilling and interesting. And the first time someone called me the caregiver and Sam the breadwinner, I lost my ego-laden marbles. When the neighbor called me a housewife, I walked in my house and punched our couch out of rage and stewed, and thought up a lot of great retorts which basically boiled down to, "No I'm not." The word hausfrau bounced around in my skull for weeks after that, and I would grow red again. And what I realized is that my ego, my reputation, was preventing me from pursuing this beautiful life. I was letting other people's idea of what a stay at home mother was influence what a stay at home mother was for me. Would I go back to work simply because people are seeing me as the kind of woman I didn't want to be seen as? It was ridiculous. It was a good lesson for me. And being the kind of stay at home mother that I am has become a real exploration in balancing my ego and my true path.
It still stings when people say, "I don't know how you do it." That is probably the most frequently said thing to me by other adults. "How do you stay home all day? I couldn't do it." Or "My kids are soooo annoying/difficult/mind numbingly boring/uninterested in anything cool. I would shoot myself if I was home all day." In general, then, I think that is a good thing to know about yourself. But if staying home isn't boring to me, are you saying I am dim? Or just easily amused? Or just without discipline?
So, anyway, why am I talking about this? Because my day is intrinsically tied to being a stay at home mother, and it is something I don't talk about very much.
After Lucy died, my mothering was kind of more of like a cocoon-ing. We watched a lot of television. Curled under blankets. Only went to the playground when I was certain others were not there. We walked around the alleys of our neighborhood, if you can call them alleys. We snarled at people. We painted for hours and hours and hours a day. Or cooked. Or cleaned together. Sometimes we took three baths. I don't know. Beatrice and I talked a lot. Read books and talked, or told stories, or stared at the ceiling. Yes she could barely form a sentence, but that was comforting to me. All my emotions needed to be summed up in succinct sentences that a two year old could understand. It helped uncomplicate my head. "Mommy is sad because Lucy died." Can't get much more straightforward and true than that.
This fall I decided to be more intentional with my parenting and teaching. I ordered a number of homeschooling books, and wonderful books about incorporating nature and ritual into your daily lives. All in all, it has been transformative for both of us--spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. We love what we are doing now, so here is our day:
I usually wake up at 6:00 am, shuffle downstairs. I set my coffee up the night before and have it on a timer, so it wakes me with the aroma. I pour myself coffee, take my thyroid medication. I let the dog out, shuffle to the computer, and read blogs/answer emails. (I am pretending that this is a perfect, normal day of the week day where my husband has already left for work. And that we are home all day, but mostly, we have something every day.) He leaves around 6a, so sometimes I get a quick snuggle and smooch in before he is off. The kids usually wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 am, so I get a few minutes checking My Face, and Twitter and all that. When they wake, I have to go get Thor. Beezus will come downstairs. I set up her orange juice the night before, so if she does wake before me, she can get her own juice and hang out until I wake up. When the kids come downstairs, I change diaper for Thor. I nag Beezus to use the potty about a thousand times before she actually will grab her crotch and scream that she has to use the potty. RIGHT NOW. And she runs off to potty. Sometimes I let television be on for a half hour or an hour, if I am feeling particularly bleary-eyed. During that time, Thor is in his bounce-y thing, and I usually do the crossword while she watches her morning stories. I always call my sister at this time and we talk for a few minutes. Every. Morning. If I am needing to talk to my mother, I call her too.
We turn the television off pretty quickly in the morning. Bea and I play with Thor. We always play the three of us for some amount of time. Then we all get up and feed. I get Beezus some granola or yogurt and honey. Thor eats his cereal. I eat granola, or drink a smoothie. We wash dishes, and head upstairs. It is usually around 8 or 8:30a. We get dressed, brush teeth. I shower. I am a showering freak, so I take a shower in the morning and bath in the evening most days come hell or high water. The kids don't usually bother me. They play in their room.
After we are dressed and showered, around 9a, we come back downstairs to start our day, which is to look outside at the weather, and change our day of the week/weather/season sign. Then we do something vaguely school-y, like science cards, or learning about time, or practices colors or writing names. Something from a workbook or whatever. If we run an errand, it is during this time. Thor then takes a nap somewhere between 9a and 10a. Beatrice plays while I put him down. Then I come downstairs again and we paint, craft or draw for an hour or two. Sometimes we get out of the house earlier, and I wear Thor for his nap, and we walk to the playground or play outside instead of school. Every day is different, so this is a hard exercise.
Thor wakes around 11-11:30. I usually make lunch. Cheese sandwich and carrots with milk. Yes, pretty much the same thing every day. Sometimes Bea has peanut butter and honey, but mostly cheese sandwich, and I eat hummus. Thor eats too. We play gnomes or something at this time. Or clean up our morning mess, or finish laundry if it is laundry day. We sometimes do puzzles. Somehow it is 1p before I know it, which is the kids naptime again. Thor and Beezus both sleep this time. I read three books to both of them. Nurse Thor. They usually sleep from 1:30 to 4:00p. This is magic mama time. I sleep some days. Or write. Sometimes I keep Thor with me, and he naps on my lap, so he doesn't wake Beez, and I watch the L-Word or whatever else happens to be the show I watch On-Demand. When the kids wake up, I usually let Bea watch a half hour to transition to awake time. She usually has a Newman O or two and some juice. Then we go outside for a walk. We go to the playground. We walk around on a nature hike in pursuit of something, or just around the neighborhood. If it is too cold or raining, we do music class. Actually, we somehow do music class almost every day. We listen to music and play instruments, or I play guitar and we sing together. Afternoons are usually nice mixed in with bouts of post-nap emotional tenderness.
When Sam gets home, I start dinner and he takes the kids. I usually make something vegetarian for me and Beezus, and a piece of meat for my husband, because I am just that kind. We always sit to eat together at the table, and most nights we light the candles on the table and Lucy's candles. We eat. Clean. I give the kids a bath most nights, and climb into the tub with them. If I don't, I go into the office and work/email. After bath, Bea is allowed to watch television for a half an hour or so, and I take Thor up to bed around 7p. Beezus goes to bed around 8-8:30 p. Sam and I usually go up to bed at that time too, and read and talk in bed. Lately, though, I have been staying up later and writing, since my schedule hasn't been giving me much time during the day to write. That is my day. If there is an average one.
I have blogged everyday this month, and whew, that was friggin' hard. But this thirty days thing is sort of weird, in that, October has 31 days. So, if anyone is interested in asking me a question, I will answer them on October 31st. You can pose questions here in the comment section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can ask about anything. Dead baby related or not. You can even ask anonymously, if you want to ask me something mean-spirited.