Here in the real world, I am a WOHM (Work Outside the Home Mom). In my fantasies, I am a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom).
I work outside our home for a few different reasons.
First, I still have student loans we are paying off for my master’s degree. I wish we didn’t have this debt looming over us, but we do. I don’t regret it. Graduate school is where I met Mr. Amen, after all. The payment is literally more than my car payment each month, so I work to make that payment.
Secondly, I work to provide a certain level of security to our family. Mr. Amen endured a painful nearly 2 year period of unemployment before returning to work. My steady employment was our sole source of income during that time. It is also our source of health insurance. And though unemployment figures appear to be getting better, I know that it is because more people have stopped looking for work altogether, and that is what is “lowering” unemployment…they haven’t found jobs. Just last week, a dear friend’s husband was laid off…from a really good white collar job. This is the 4th time he’s been laid off since I’ve known her in the past 7 years. They have 3 children; two in private Catholic school and 1 in daycare. They lost their health insurance with his job and will now have to get it through hers (not cheap!!).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I trust God. He’s never let me down before. He always comes through for us. I feel like one of the ways He’s provided for us has been through my job. However much I may dislike that method, it’s the method He’s chosen for now.
But, like I said, in my dreams, I’m a stay-at-home mom. I do creative activities with my 3 year-old. I clean and organize my house; dust never gets a chance to collect on the shelves. Mail is sorted and dealt with daily. Meals are planned, coupons are clipped, bedtime is never delayed because we’ve run out of milk and a certain small person can’t go to sleep without his hot chocolate. Grocery shopping is done leisurely during the week on Monday afternoon or Tuesday, after the store shelves are freshly stocked instead of on Sunday mornings at 8am before Mass or Thursday evenings at 9pm as the store is closing. I plan thoughtful outings with friends and playdates for Junior. I bake cookies, bread and crackers from scratch. Laundry is done, folded and put away before 10:30pm. It’s such an idyllic life.
EECK!! Full stop. My reality is something more akin to this:
4:50am: Mr. Amen’s alarm goes off (he rides his bike in the am). I am now awake (or still awake, as any 7-8 month pregnant lady can tell you).
5:15-5:30am: Junior wakes and wanders into our room, where I lift him into bed with me and we try to lay still for a few more minutes before my alarm goes off.
5:45am: My alarm goes off.
6:00am: I am in the shower.
6:30am: I am dressed and head out to get Junior ready for the day.
7:00am: After having wrestled Junior into his clothes for the day, found his shoes, coaxed him into putting them on after stemming the ever-present flow of whine coming from his mouth, I can now concentrate on figuring out what I will have for lunch and packing it. Honestly, though, we’re usually running late at this point, so I just start Mr. Amen’s breakfast and yell for Junior to go kiss daddy so we can leave.
7:15am: Pack the car, seatbelt the child, leave for the day.
7:30am: Drop off at daycare and point the car towards the office.
8:15am or so: Arrive at work.
2:00pm: Remember that I forgot to get something out for dinner. Text Mr. Amen that my plan for dinner was something like grilled cheese & soup, pancakes & eggs, spaghetti or something equally as easy and non-remembering to get something out of the freezer like.
5:00-5:30pm: Leave work in a mad dash for daycare.
6:15pm: Arrive at daycare. Sign accident/incident report of the day, because there's almost always an accident/incident report.
6:30pm: Arrive home. Try to get Junior to drink something, take his shoes off and put them where we can find them in the morning. Settle him in front of the TV or a movie so I can get started on dinner.
7:15pm: Eat dinner.
7:40pm: Clean up dinner.
8:10pm: Bath time and bed time routine for Junior.
8:45pm: Hopefully Junior is in bed by now. Decide which chore I want to do before I collapse on the couch.
9:30pm: Start getting myself ready for bed, realize I have no clean pants/shirt for work. Start a load of laundry.
10:00pm: Bedtime, but let’s be honest, at this point it is more of a lay-real-still-for-a-few-hours-before-I-have-to-get-up-to-pee-without-actually-ever-falling-asleep.
So my reality is starkly different from my fantasies. I will get a glimpse into the life of a SAHM when our baby girl is born later this summer. When baby is born, Junior will continue at daycare for 2 weeks to give me a chance to recover from the delivery and settle in a bit with the baby. Then he’ll be home with me and baby girl until I go back to work. I’m excited to spend this time with him and the baby. I have high hopes for everything we will do while I am home. My dreams include, having a decent meal ready before 7pm each day; getting some things organized to help keep things clean(er) when I go back to work; daily mass as often as I can manage it; and remodeling the half bathroom off the garage. I might also consider painting a few rooms. The only room that’s been painted since we’ve moved in is Junior’s room, so we have a l-o-n-g way to go to get the house actually decorated. Lastly, I’ll be working on meal planning, couponing and economizing to see if we could actually make it on one salary – that’ll really take some hard work as I’ve become overly dependent on convenience items which cost more. The hope is that with a little more time to devote to couponing, grocery shopping, deal hunting, we can find a way to save. I have a ton of questions in this area, but I’ll save those for another post.
I'm excited for the possibilities and scared that I'll love it so much I'll really suffer when I have to go back to work. In the meantime, I'm asking the Lord if He might make a way for us to keep me at home permanently. I am willing to accept whatever answer He may give with joy, knowing that His plan for my little family is the one that matters and will work out best anyhow. So if it's back to work for me, then it's back to work...He may have someone there that will see Him through me or maybe it's just that He wants to provide for our family in that way.