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Washington Post: SAHM Routines

Washington Post: SAHM Routines

This article was taken from the Washington Post. A non-mom writes Carolyn Hax of ‘Tell Me About It’ questioning what SAHMs do each day….


Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What’d you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I’ve done Internet searches, I’ve talked to parents. I don’t get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don’t do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I’m asking is: What is a typical day and why don’t moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)? What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

~ Tacoma, Wash.

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Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.

Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.

Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.

Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it’s validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.

It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.

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  1. LindaLu83 says:

    Awesome reply! Awesome! And I love how the person questioning doesn’t even have kids. I would love to see her response now…

  2. I really like Ms. Washington Post’s “Tell me” column and was looking to send her a letter when I found New Mommy. I’m a father of a three year old baby girl and being divorced as we speak. Amongst the biggest mistakes I made in my effort to learn how to do marriage, parenting and life was not that I wanted to surround myself with people who had the things I wanted, but that I threw out everyone who didn’t. If you were single, had no kids, or of humble social stature I budgeted you out of my time schedule because you had nothing to offer me. I had no patience for your unenlightened and inexperienced presumptuousness. I would rather push my friends further into the margins of singleness and young professional obsession than open out of my home to hospitality. I don’t know what a woman does who doesn’t have a partner ostensibly there to support. I know having kids while excruciatingly demanding especially for the mother who feels the pain of outrageous expectation from herself, society and the real need of a real living, breathing vulnerable little life, may not want to be around someone who wants to pull her into the values and time priorities that she once even may have enjoyed. I know I had very little patience for such arrogance from friends who just didn’t seem to get the amount of pressure I was under and how an offer to just “hang out” might read to me as reprehensible unsupportiveness to me, my marriage and my family that I was laboring to maintain. Step into my world with me for a minute, lets talk while we wash baby bottles together, while you pass me the soap for the laundry. A leisurely stance or a request to have my ear for an hour reeked to me of insurrection. I wanted to make a family and at times my own efforts were in conflict with the value of relationships, friends, and the gentle presence of just being with. I missed a real opportunity to ask for help doing laundry, changing diapers and cooking dinners because I wanted to give my friends the unhurried quality time that I could just not see as of any value to me or my family at that time.

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