Well, What Do You Do All Day?

It’s Wednesday, which is Lunch with Caroline Day.
Otherwise known as “mmm, it smells like tater tots” day.

It seems that when I show up for lunch, the majority of my time is spent talking to every other kid but my own. Caroline tries to get a word in, but the other kids just overwhelm me with their stories. They have so much to say and are happy to have a captive audience.

The topics are varied: bodily functions, cousins in Ethiopia, tae kwon do, loose teeth, little sisters, bugs on the window, vegetables are gross etc.

Today, Sam did quite a lot of talking. She’s a really sweet girl and I enjoyed learning about her Ethiopian culture. Towards the end of lunch time, she pulled out a baggie full of money. I said something about her having more money than me. Then I said “I don’t have any money. I think I need a job.”

After I said this, one of the other little girls turned around and said in a rather wide eyed, surprised way “You don’t have a job?”
I said no, I stay home and take care of our house and family.

Completely bewildered by my answer, she said “Well, what do you DO all day?”
Followed by, “Do you watch TV all day?”

Clearly, this child’s mother works.

While I knew that her questions were sincere and she wasn’t used to having a mom at home all day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit defensive.

NO I don’t watch TV all day. In fact, it stays off until the evening time.

Who knew seven year olds and their innocent remarks were capable of making you feel like a lump?

Even though I love staying home and doing housewifey things, once Caroline started full day school, I started feeling twinges of guilt for being home alone all day.

I have it too easy; I’m not suffering enough.

Craig works long days in a job that he doesn’t particularly LOVE. And I go to the gym for 2.5 hours and listen to talk radio for the remainder of the day.

I suppose it’s pointless to try and make things equal. They never will be.

I don’t think Craig minds that I don’t work. He knows that being home for Caroline in the afternoon is really important to me. Every now and then, particularly when he’s frustrated with his own job, he’ll flippantly say that I should get a job, but we both know that with the ongoing possibility of him traveling/deploying, me working isn’t necessarily the best option.

Sure, lots of military wives work. And I could too. If I wanted to.

Maybe if I had some marketable skills? Or confidence.

The truth is, I’m a college drop out, with no career direction. I’m good at keeping the house running, but I don’t want to be somebody else’s maid.

Someday I’ll figure it out. But I’m not in a big hurry. Whether you’re an only or one of twelve, it’s nice having mom around after school. I suppose that should be my focus. Being available for Caroline, before, during and after school.

I often beat myself up for only wanting one. How can I complain about anything when I’ve got it so easy? The truth is that I do have it easy. Caroline is compliant, sweet, energetic and smart.

If we had more I wouldn’t feel guilty about staying home. Taking care of one child is infinitely easier than caring for a brood. Sometimes being the parent of an only makes me feel like I don’t count. Not that I don’t count as a person, but that I don’t register anywhere on the motherhood/sacrifice/martyr scale.

I don’t have to juggle schedules.

I never have to worry about dividing my time or making things fair.

I just can’t help but feel guilty. Guilty because my life is simple and easy, fundamentally speaking, that is (what goes on inside my head anything but simple). I’m quite gratefully done with the frustrating toddler/preschool stage and have the luxury of 6.5 hours of free time during the week. Craig is a wonderful provider. We have everything we need and so much more.
I should just be thankful. Plain and simple.

But, I don’t work that way.

I’m an over thinker, second guesser, obsessive worrier. I can’t understand it when people say they’ll do as they please, even with the possibility of hurting people in the process, because they want to live their lives without regret. I find that making impulsive decisions almost always leads to regret.
It’s almost like I have survivor’s guilt. I took the easy road, knowing that opting to have only one kid would lend itself to a quieter, more controlled life.
Other moms, particularly those with a couple of kids, or more, struggle so much and here I am, living the life of leisure between the hours of 8:30am-3:05pm.

While I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to be home, I can’t shake the associated guilt. I’m ashamed to admit it, but think that I’m just too concerned about what others think of me and the choices I’ve made.
She’s lazy. Unmotivated. High maintenance. Pampered.
I’m none of those things.
And I should be grown up enough to stop worrying about what others think.

If only that were as easy as it sounds.

I think if you asked most grown ups, especially us chicks, they’ll admit that inside they’re still as insecure as they were at age 15.

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