March 10, 2010
I have a friend who came to dinner every week for a while before he moved out of state. Every week, he'd ask me the same genuine question in his charming Southern drawl, "So, whatcha been up to?" I would laugh and answer, "The same thing every day." Sometimes I'd try to think of something new or different I'd done. But then I started to wonder, "What am I doing with my days?" I'd thought I'd take a minute to write down an example of a typical day in the life of a mostly stay-at-home mom. Here's what happened today.
We wake - late. After being up multiple times during the night with a teething toddler, we are exhausted. I wake when my toddler throws herself on me in a full body hug, looks straight into my eyes and smiles her sweetest smile, saying, "Good morning!" in her own special language. (YES, she DOES sleep with us!) We get ready as quickly as possible without stressing...(I'm really working on this!), feed and dress our girls, then drop them off with the babysitter. Then, I swing over to a local cafe where I tell stories to toddlers and preschoolers once a week. Amazingly, I arrive early. I finish the stories and then enjoy chatting with the moms about their kids, lives, experiences. I really enjoy this part of my week.
The real work begins. I return to the babysitter's house, load the girls in the car in a steady downpour, then drive home. There, I coax my youngest to take a nap, change a load of laundry and race downstairs to hang with my oldest. We play Mulan. She drapes me with beads of "jade" for beauty, a pendant for balance (I wish I really had one of those!) and a cricket for good luck. She names each item ceremoniously and lifts my chin tenderly. As she gazes into my eyes, I feel the effervescent joy of knowing I'm still her favorite playmate. After we play for a while, I move on to surreptitiously weeding out the toybox and cleaning up around the house.
My toddler wakes after only an hour. This changes what I can accomplish in the remaining hour before we leave. I change her diaper and another load of laundry then re-dress both girls and myself. In the midst of this to-do list, I break up two disagreements that turn physical and have a brief heart to heart with my oldest. Then, I quickly gather a few toys, craft items and snacks and re-fill my youngest's bottle. Happy to be on time for our next appointment, I herd the girls toward the car.
We arrive at our next appointment on time. Yay! I trade babysitting duties one day each week with a friend. It's been a lifesaver for me. I truly love her kids and my daughters have a great time with them. Normally, we go outside and play games that entail a lot of running, hopefully ensuring a good night's sleep for all. However, today it's raining so our plans are a little different. When the sky clears briefly, we race outdoors and I distribute instruments so the kids can create their own "band". They play happily, marching around, for a short time but the weather turns again so we make our way back indoors.
Craft & chaos. I suggest we make our own playdough and the kids agree excitedly. First, each one must use the toilet and wash his or her hands (one has to remind small people to do this). My friend's oldest is the first to finish so he starts helping me measure flour, salt, color etc. while my toddler eats a snack in the booster chair.
Suddenly, we hear a shriek from the bathroom. I run in to find my oldest and her little girlfriend facing each other with some animosity. My friend's daughter says, "A" (my daughter) threw water from the froggie potty on me!" My three year old daughter turns to me and counters, "I thought it would be funny!" Feeling grateful the potty contained only water, I stifle my laughter and gently correct one girl's understanding of funny while cleaning up the other.
It all works out in the end. Eventually, with lots of giggles - and a small flour fight - we get the playdough made (only one batch ruined), enjoy a snack. Then the kids watch Dora, wrestle with each other and play on the computer while I do dishes and sweep the floor. When my friend's husband arrives, we leave. We pick up our dad from work, get dinner and head home. Dad takes over and starts the bedtime routine because it's my night to be "free". Later, I'll come home and climb into bed where I'll snuggle with the people I love best.
This concludes a day in the life of a mostly stay-at-home mom. I realize that I have pretty much the same schedule every week - with the same people. When my friend asks me what I've been doing, I could respond with a laundry list (literally) of activities. But, when he asks me that question, what comes to mind isn't what I've done, accomplished or acquired recently. Instead, in my mind glimmers sparkling memories I gather throughout each day in the form of the smiles, the laughter, the touches and the songs of my two precious little girls. I am awed by the reality that I am privileged to share my journey with two beautiful, brilliant little people (and one beautiful, brilliant big person) - and encourage each one through her/his own journey.
How exactly do I fit that into a two sentence reply? For now, I'll keep laughing and giving the same answer but inside, I'll enjoy the shimmering images of what really fills my days.