Monday, January 14, 2013

The Stay-at-Home Mom Stays at Home

Stay-at-home moms often resent being referred to as stay-at-home types of people.  It feels like a misnomer.

“I don’t just stay at home,” one might say with a scowl, “I’m busy.  We go places.  I leave the house every day.  We go to Gymboree, the library, Target, the gym, preschool drop-off—I leave the house every day.”

I know this feeling because I like to leave my house.  Often.  I like to feel as if I have somewhere to go even if we really don’t have to be anywhere at all.  It makes me feel productive and somewhere along the way, productivity was drilled into my value system as something essential, important…like air or cheesecake.

It also makes me feel like I’m a part of the world, the bigger world out there, the global community.  The loneliness of being a mom who sometimes (but not often)+ stays at home with her kids is lessened by the fact that I had at least one adult conversation with a lady at the park, that for an hour I was in a room full of people who also enjoy sinking just a little bit deeper into Warrior I, that I had some time just to peek at what people who do not spend their days in yoga pants are wearing these days (Do grown women attend tea parties?  Who on earth is wearing all these cute dresses?)

But today when the outside thermometer read 0 degrees, the part of me who values feeling in my fingers and toes overruled the part of me who values productivity and being out and about.  So we stayed in.

The other reason we stayed in is because Finny, who loves school, Finny, who will make friends with a leaf at the park just to have someone to chatter away to, Finny just wanted to stay in too.  And now that Charlie is two and big and fun and pretty chatty and silly himself, when the two of them were left to simply play in their pajamas this morning, entire worlds were created. 

We played with Christmas presents and I “homeschooled” Finny in the art of making an X with his new Design and Drill—we talked about the meaning of the words “diagonal,” “reverse,” and “forward” as we screwed and unscrewed the screws from the board.  All three of us snuggled on the couch and read Llama, Llama Mad at Mama and we talked about why Llama Llama was mad at mama and how sometimes we have to do things with mommy that are not fun, because sometimes mommy has to get things done. 

Then we went upstairs and while I showered and put away laundry and made beds, Finny and Charlie ran around in Superhero costumes and turned the now empty laundry basket into a thousand different things from sailboat to orangutan cage.  And all the while I got to listen to my boys, content on a 5’x7’ square of carpet talking to each other, reading to each other, rolling over each other, dressing and undressing themselves in costumes and capes.

And because we were home and because it was there, like a toy waiting to be explored, Charlie decided today might be a good day to begin potty training.  “I go potty, Mommy.  I go potty, Mommy.”  And I watched in amazement as he pulled up the top lid, got out the seat, climbed right up and put his chubby legs together like an old pro.  And there I stood like an old pro myself, thinking, okay, let’s do this.  No rocket science books this time, no freaking out this time, let’s just see what happens. 

“Penis, Mommy,” he’d say as he pushed his legs together.  And then he’d flush and flush and flush again.  He hopped down and hopped up, down and up, down and up all the while beaming with pride, exclaiming, “I go potty, Mommy,” without ever actually making a drop.  And before we knew it, it was lunch time, and we were tired and hungry from our very productive morning of crime fighting and bed-making.

When they were babies, the days seemed endless.  We had to get out because I couldn’t just stare at the baby all day.  I needed someone to talk back, other people to help me make the minutes pass until 6:30 p.m.  But now that they’re four and two, now that we move and jump and laugh and play with each other, I see our mornings together are numbered, I see this time when they want nothing more than to play with me as numbered and some days, like today, I’d rather not watch the clock.  I’d rather just watch them.  I’d rather just stay home.