I know somedays you wonder what I do all day.
You come home after a long, hard day and you see the house is still a mess. You see dishes in the sink. You see me, your wife, walking around looking like I didn’t take a shower. It’s because I didn’t, by the way. You see toys strewn throughout the house. Paint and glue litter the kitchen table. A laundry basket sits in the hall bathroom and you’re not sure if it’s clean clothes waiting to be folded or dirty clothes waiting to be washed.
I know somedays you wonder what I do all day. And I get it.
Somedays I wonder the same thing. How did the day get away from me? You’re about to be home and I scramble to make the house look nice for you. You’re about to be home, so I start making dinner and run the soapy water for the dishes. I clean up the toys and straighten up the house, but when I go to finish that dinner I started, the mess reappears. Because trying to keep a house with kids in it, is trying to play catch-up all day. But, you never catch up. It’s exhausting in that it’s never ending and there’s never a moment when you’ve actually caught up. And when there is that moment– that brief, shining, proud moment– it’s gone before anyone but me gets to see it.
I know somedays you wonder what I do all day. And I don’t blame you.
I remember when I was eight months pregnant with our second child and you came home from work one day and muttered those words under your breath. You were in another room and didn’t think I heard you. But I did. I blame it on my eagle like hearing that pregnancy must’ve super-honed. I’m sure you remember it too because I gave you hell for it. I screamed and cried and broke down. I got on my knees and started picking up (throwing) the toys, explaining to you through tears about how hard it is to stay at home sometimes. You begged me to get up and told me you were sorry and started picking up the toys yourself. The truth is you didn’t understand and how could you. You were gone all day. You were envisioning me frolicking around the house, eating bon-bons, watching copious amounts of t.v., and being on an endless vacation. You heard about the park play dates and Chuck E. Cheese. You weren’t here to see the day in and day out of what it is to stay at home with the children. But, I also remember the moment when you started to get it. When I started leaving you alone at home with both kids for a few hours and you couldn’t get anything done. You shared with me how they weren’t listening and kept making messes and you couldn’t mow the yard or change the oil in the truck like you had planned. I nodded with knowing eyes as you lamented about the couple of sweet, bad butt kids we were raising.
I know somedays you wonder what I do all day. Because I wonder the same about you.
Oh, how it must feel to drive that long ride to work each morning. Alone in your thoughts. Listening to your favorite songs turned up as loud as you want. Drinking your hot coffee uninterrupted. Being around other adults and talking about the weather and politics and whatever else adults talk about when children aren’t around. I hardly remember what that is anymore. Going out to lunch with your coworkers. Working a 9 to 5. I realize it’s not all fun and games. But, it’s easy to think you’re on some sophisticated adult vacation when I’m alone at home with the kids.
I know somedays you wonder what I do all day. And when you add it all up it looks something like this…
I argue with a three-year-old about what she can eat for breakfast. Every morning. I go to the bathroom and return to find the craft cabinet opened and ten thousand things glued to each other. I close cabinets, turn lights off, pick up snack trash, shut doors, and flush toilets with the frequency of a janitor at an elementary school. I snuggle on the couch and read five hundred books a day. I ration out band-aids like it’s World War II. I wipe off the kitchen table a gazillion times. I listen to the sweetest little voices tell me about their big dreams and scary nightmares. I resolve sibling squabbles with the precision and depth of someone who’s interning for their psychology degree or at least the guy who referees WWF wrestling. I get on bended knee and explain etiquette and manners and rules and dole out discipline and correction and hugs and kisses every few minutes. I learn that I’m my mother and I analyze my parenting and I make changes and I fail and I get back up and try again and I strategize and I grow and I become better and then I lose it and start all over again. Every. Day.
I know somedays you wonder what I do all day. But just know this…
I do it for you. And for us. And for them. And for me. And I know you do the same.