Keeping up


Life at home would be so much easier if I could just get up a little earlier. If I could go to bed at a reasonable time (i.e., before 1 am), if I could get up before my kids, if I could make the coffee at night so it’d be ready and waiting for me in the morning…life would be so much easier.

I wouldn’t have to fight with my husband over whose turn it is to get up and get the baby in the morning. I wouldn’t have to peel my eyelids open with my fingers in an effort to keep myself awake when the baby comes into my bed, ready to eat. I wouldn’t have to drag myself out of bed and downstairs, a zombie until my coffee is poured and I’m sitting—finally sitting!—at the table, only to get up again to make breakfast for the kiddos.

Before, when I was planning my summer as a stay-at-home mom, I had such big dreams. I imagined myself at the pool with the kids every day, a nut-brown tan on my skin by mid-July. I imagined trips we would take to the zoo, the museums, and parks around town. In my head I planned a play-doh day and an outside painting day, two activities I dread because of the mess but that I knew the kids would enjoy.

My birthday is July 31st, and after my birthday each year, it feels like the summer’s over. This year is no different. We’ve gone to the zoo, the museum, and the pool (but not as frequently as I would have liked. Turns out taking two kids under five to the public pool by yourself is pretty panic-inducing). We have plans for a road trip and even had an extended weekend with family in June. But as the summer days slip through my fingers, I can’t help but feel sad about the things I didn’t accomplish in my first term as a SAHM. Things I didn’t accomplish because I was too tired, too overwhelmed with housework, or just plain didn’t feel like it.

We recently hired a sitter to help with the transition between the time I have to leave for work and the time C gets home. The help has been wonderful, but as a result I feel like I’m seeing my kids even less. I’m off today, and I thought I’d wake up and ask the kids what they wanted to do and I’d say yes to whatever they dreamed up. I thought we’d spurn the usual trip to the YMCA, the laundry we need to do, the dirty dishes waiting on the countertop. But I woke up as tired as ever, as unmotivated as I usually am, and all I want to do is fall back on the little routine that I’ve created for our Fridays.

I have to believe that the time we spend together, no matter how mundane and unexciting, is quality time because we’re together. Even if my summer wasn’t a sparkling example of kid-centric activities, even if I never made a Summer Bucket List, even if on these lazy, gray mornings of early August I’m drinking coffee, my oldest is playing on his iPad, and my youngest is taking markers from the art table and throwing them around the house like it’s his job—we’re together, and that’s what staying home, for me, is all about.