I'm a stay-at-home-mom in the sense that I don't leave to go to an office. I don't drop K off at daycare (though I did for a while when we had easy access to an absurdly affordable caregiver and only one mortgage to pay). I don't have to call my boss and explain why I won't be there when K is sick, or spend money on a work wardrobe, or deal with a commute in crappy weather. I do, in fact, stay at home.
But I also work (and not in that "all mothers work" sense, valid as it is). I might be in the same room as K, able to respond to her urgent (urgent!) needs for fruit snacks and chocolate milk, but the majority of our interactions include me grumbling "not now, babe, I'm working." I offer to queue up another episode of Caillou on Netflix. I encourage her to go up to her room to play with her babies. I beg her to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP JUMPING ON ME AND GO FINISH THE HELLO KITTY COLORING BOOK. I feel like most of the time my mothering style is of the, "hey, don't you have some TV to watch somewhere?" variety. And since I don't have set office hours, my workday can spill over into the evening, or the weekend, or --
On the days when I Absolutely Am Not Opening That Work E-mail Window, I want to make it count. I want to cram in as much quality mother-daughter-family time as I can. I want our time together to be enriching and entertaining and memory-making.
So when things like weather or unexpected crowds or illness or unplanned naps get in the way of whatever I had planned for those special, non-working times, I get a wee bit cranky. Saturday I wanted to take K to the beach and to visit her great-grandma, but she was coughing like a TB patient and I didn't think lake water or exposure to the elderly was a great idea. Sunday we were going to go to a photography exhibit, but when we got there we couldn't even find a parking spot and had to abort the mission, then en-route to our plan B it started raining, and en-route to our plan C K fell asleep in the car. We did end up making a pit stop at a playground to practice bike-riding later in the day, but it felt like a weak substitute. K didn't seem miserable, but I felt like a failure. I want to have a good, impressive answer at the ready when someone asks us what we did over the weekend. This weekend? Um. I don't know. I made some baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning. That was okay.
(Not okay for oatmeal to be the highlight. Not. Okay.)
So, mopey and discouraged, we moved on to plan D. The work-on-Sunday so I can slack off on Monday plan. I hunched over my laptop while Bob took K out for ice cream. I read a work manuscript that left me in tears (mostly in a good way) and kept me so busy that microwaving some hot dogs was about all I could do for Sunday dinner. I even skipped my Sunday night True Blood viewing!
Because Monday? Monday we were going to make up for it. Monday we were going to cram a whole weekend's worth of quality time into a short mother-daughter outing. We were going to go to the zoo, dang it.
(More to come in Working Mom Syndrome Part II, or WHERE ARE THE BEARS?)