Here’s the deal: I have to work 40 hours a week. This reason is twofold. 1) I like to buy shoes. (Not to mention that Apple is an expensive mistress. As my husband likes to remind me, I play the poor card every month when the mortgage is due, but when it came time to buy our iPhones? I wrote a check so fast that my carpal tunnel flared up.) 2) I hate cooking, cleaning, and anything else required to keep a home up and running. If left alone every day while my son was at school, I would probably install a fridge and a vending machine next to the bed, which would eventually turn me into a laptop-clutching, Dorito-dust-covered, Pinot-soaked Miss Havisham freak show.
I went back to work approximately 2 weeks after having my baby. Mostly so that my car would not be repossessed, but also because being alone with a newborn all day threatened to break me down, Britney-style. Though I wouldn’t have gone with the whole ‘shave my head and lock myself in the bathroom with the baby’ bit. I was leaning more towards getting a tattoo of the date before my baby’s birthday on my foot, to symbolize my last day I walked around as a free woman. (I know, but don’t worry. All it took was a late-night viewing of the movie Stepmom to change me from blubbering psychopath to blubbering Supermom.**)
Of course I feel guilty for not spending more time with my child. We spend a whopping 20 minutes together in the morning, and at least one of us ends up crying before we make it to the bus stop. (Him: “Whyyy do you keep waking me up every morning? I am NOT GETTING OUT OF THIS BED!” Me: WHY AM I SCREAMING AT 7 A.M?! A person should at least have COFFEE before they YELL LIKE THIS!”)
And when we get home at 6 p.m., we’re not exactly a ringing endorsement for Quality Time. I read a friend’s Facebook status the other day, where she detailed her evening of making from-scratch Greek chicken for dinner, playing board games with the kids, and then reading to them by flashlight inside the fort they made out of living room furniture and blankets. My night? Went something like this: a container of Easy Mac thrown at everyone for their microwaving pleasure, followed by sniffing the clothes in everyone’s hamper to see if there was a wearable ensemble for the next day, and ending with a variation of the following bribe: “I will give you TEN DOLLARS if you go read a book in your bed, and there’s a new video game with your name on it if you don’t say the word ‘Mom’ for 8 whole minutes.”
I’m not saying that stay-at-home Moms have it any easier. I have a friend who calls her family vacations ‘Business Meetings’ because she’s doing the same job she does every day at home, only this time she has the pleasure of wearing a bathing suit top that can be pulled down at any given moment by a spastic toddler.
Working or staying at home, we all have the weekend to look forward to. In my fantasy, I am awakened on Sunday morning by flitting birds who sing a song while pulling on my robe (à la Snow White), and the sun lights up my reading nook, where the coffee is brewed and waiting for me. In reality, this morning my son put his face three centimeters from mine and said: “MOMMY! It’s morning. And I’m going to stay right here, staring at you, until you get up and talk to me. Are you up yet? How ’bout now? Now?”
Sigh. Maybe next weekend.
**Doritos and Pinot may or may not have been involved.
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