Frances Ruiz, our guest blogger for today's Ay Mama!, is a licensed attorney who currently stays at home and works as a freelance translator.
Bil Keane wrote this The Family Circus cartoon a while ago. This cartoon is one of my favorites, not only because I love the expression on the Mom’s face, but because it is so TRUE!
Parents who decide to stay at home are most of the time misunderstood. And sometimes, these parents think less of themselves and of their “profession” just because they stay at home.
I don’t know who invented the phrase “stay-at-home” or “housewife”, as if we were “at home” all day long or if we were “married” to our houses? I would have preferred the term, Officer of Household Affairs or better yet, Home Management Chief Executive Officer. I believe “stay-at-home” provides the erroneous idea that the parent, who stays at home, does just that “stays” as if frozen in time. Is “stay” the correct adjective for the actions that need to be done for our children to become independent, to understand and practice moral values and to follow rules and exercise socially appropriate behavior? Does it take no effort at all?
Take one of my typical days “staying at home”, for example:
Get up, brush teeth, go downstairs. Prepare my coffee (that helps me start the engines!). Prepare my two children’s breakfast, sometimes even my hubby’s if he’s not already at work. Constantly repeat “eat breakfast”. When they finish, make sure they go upstairs and get dressed, brush teeth. Supervise at all times. If not, teeth will rot and shirts will be put on backwards. Get dressed myself. Go downstairs. If Javier wants lunch, prepare a super quick lunch. Put lunch in backpack. Supervise that they have shoes on and backpacks. Almost always run to the bus stop. We make it. Give big kiss and say good bye to Javier. Take Daniel to Preschool. Stay there while he gives me the best hugs ever! One, two, three…ok, I got to go, sweetie! Go to the gym for an hour (got to get some energy for the rest of the day!). Go to Sam’s to buy some groceries. Go to Wal-Mart to buy the other groceries that we do not need in bottles of 40 ounces! If I have some extra time, go home and shower. If not, pick up Daniel from preschool. Go to the park with him. Play with him, cars, planes, trains, Spiderman or any other superhero he likes at the moment. Make sure other children don’t hit him or that he doesn’t hit any other children. If we have some time after that I teach him some ABC’s in Spanish. Pick up Javier at car lineup. Come back home, prepare snack and defrost dinner for later. Ask about the day-“Not so good”- “Why not?” -“I didn’t have anyone to play with at recess.” Javier didn’t have anyone to play with? He talks to the walls! I give a therapy session. I provide some coping skills and solutions to the problem, if it arises again in the future. Daniel wants a donut. I tell him, not until after dinner. A fit. I take a pebble out of the jar for inappropriate behavior. Daniel wants Javier’s new beyblade. Javier says no because THAT one specifically is extra special. Daniel has another fit. I make an executive decision: “No beyblade for anyone.” The kids just stare and because I reach for the pebbles again to take another one out should anyone complain, they just stay quiet. After homework, get ready for Tae Kwon Do and Tumbling or Swimming. Rush, rush, repeat get reaaaaady!!!!! Rush out of the house. Arrive at the YMCA. Javier goes to Tae Kwon Do; Daniel goes to his swimming lesson. Sometimes, I have the luxury to go to my car and snooze for 20 minutes! This is called POWER NAP. But, if I am working on any translation, or this blog, that hour is spent working. At around 7:00 in the evening, we leave the YMCA and head home. Prepare dinner. Make sure they sit properly, say grace and eat with their mouths close. Finish your vegetables, eat more meat. Fruits are necessary to stay healthy! If hubby is traveling on business, go upstairs (he takes care of bath time). Prepare bath for Daniel. Javier takes a shower. Shampoo hair, put pajamas on, brush teeth. And then comes one of two favorite moments of the day: pick one out of three: 1) snuggle on couch to watch an episode of either Diego, Lazy Town, Shaun the Sheep or any non violent show; 2) snuggle on my bed to read stories or; 3) snuggle on my bed to watch a short video in the computer (whales, dolphins, artists painting, funny videos about dogs or cats, etc.). Some nights snuggling is shorter than others because they are tired (and/or Mom is). Then lullaby and bedtime. Click, lights out. Put clothes in the washer. Fold those that are already dry. At last, my second favorite moment arrives when I plummet on our red couch to either watch TV, play scrabble on my iPhone or read a book, ahhhh…
As “stay-at-home” Mom I almost never stay still or quiet. The profession I chose and that the Lord hired me to do is to take care of two small human beings who need love, care and attention 24/7 in order to survive and become healthy well-rounded individuals. If I have done my job correctly, my children will also like to care about other people and make this world a better place. Sounds like an easy task? Nope, it only takes a Household Management Chief Executive Officer to execute such an amazing and important task!
So, next time you feel like the day has gone by and you felt that you did “nothing”, think of all the “nothing” things you had to accomplish in a single day so that you, your spouse and your children could eat, drink, take care of a minor injury, feel understood, become self-reliant, care for others and come home to a house in order, at peace (relatively speaking). Don’t underestimate yourself and don’t underestimate another person for the choices that he/she made to stay at home. You might see it greener, but, in reality, when we ALL (HMCEO’s and employed parents) decide to have a family and children, most certainly chaos will come hand in hand with the rewards. Just like achieving business plan comes hand in hand with a bonus. When Daniel comes to me and says: “Mom, you are a good Mom, all the good you give will always come back to you” (he copied this from Lilo and Stitch, but still, beautiful!) or Javier looks at me and says: “Mom, I love you more!” That is my great big bonus! Oh, and a good night sleep until 10 am the next day!!
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