Monday, September 26, 2011

The "I Don't Know How She Does It" Thing, In a Good Way

***Important, Special Note: thank you for your thoughtful feedback on my kum-bay-yah call to kindness. I'm slowly working my way through your comments, responding as I'm able, but in the meantime please know how much I appreciate your thoughts - well, except for you, real-life friend "Whitericebryce", whose comment re: farts I will politely ignore & allow to linger there just like a. . . um .  . .***

Last week was a rough one here at Pretty HQ, with Master P suffering from a cold and cutting a new tooth. A certain someone else was feeling mighty sorry for herself for having to stay home to deal with the crabby result. Irony of ironies, I'd considered myself a homebody before having a child; of course, now that my job is to stay at home, I find my sanity does best when Master P & I depart our abode at least once a day, something we of course try to avoid when the wee CEO is ailing & potentially contagious.

So by the time my playgroup's dinner date rolled around last Thursday, my self-pity and I flew out the door, desperate for some adult conversation - no, not that type of "adult conversation", Anonymous Husband - and the chance to wear something other than the Mom Uniform. I wondered what we as a group would have to discuss, having only ever met previously for daytime playdates with children in tow, but any concerns there were outweighed by my need to Just Get Out Already.

Though my playgroup largely consists of stay-at-home-moms, we have some working moms who meet up with us too; we're a jumble of professions, past and present, as well as parenting philosophies. On paper, it shouldn't work, but it does. And so it was at this dinner I was seated near a few fellow stay-at-homes as well as a working attorney.

Take the ladies away from their kids and give them a bottle of wine, and we talked about - our kids. Of course we did, but at least this was over wine & not half-distracted as one of us removed our toddler from atop the Venetian blinds. As we chatted about trips to the doctor and swapped labor & delivery stories, the choice to stay at home came up as well. We listened to our working dinner companion's tales of doing a mother's work on top of her attorney job, and she indulged us as we talked about our days at home with alternatively-delightful-or-teething one year olds.

What came next was so strange, but - pinky swear - it happened. The four of us grew quiet and looked around the table as we all uttered something along the lines of, "I don't know how you do it." "No, I don't know how *you* do it - you have the hard job." I promise this happened spontaneously, with not a hint of the condescension the "What do you *do* all day?" types sometimes bring to these sorts of discussions.

Thing is, we were all right. The working mom and the stay-at-homes both have difficult jobs, none more so than the other, and I'm so glad I have a strong group of women in both camps to remind me of that. In a week where I was struggling to do my SAHM job well, selfishly missing the personal time my old life afforded me, it was also nice to have the validation from someone working in my former world that, the stay-at-home parenting thing is challenging too.

Despite what the Internet Parenting Police may have you believe, this peaceful co-existence between the working in and outside the home mothers has been my norm to date. I've had exactly one woman - an attorney mother of two - inform me that my decision to stay home was a baffling waste of time. Yeah, that made for an intriguing company Christmas party, but otherwise, I've experienced nothing but support from the Mommy Mafia, working members and otherwise. Yes, really.

Postscript - Master P is on the mend, the (expletive) tooth is in already, I've beaten my self-pity into submission with sufficient Autumn Mix, and we're out & about once again. Amen.


Danielle said...

After a whopping 2 whole days at home with my boys, i.e. every weekend, I'm always reminded why I'm not a SAHM. And then I utter something along the lines of, "How do SAHM's do it? I'm not cut out for it but bless your heart that you are!

And I second the notion of getting a terrible case of Cabin Fever if I have to stay inside on one of those 2 days. Fresh air and a change of scenery does wonders for ones psyche.

Annabel Manners said...

I love that you call your son the wee CEO. In your case, I think the answer to "I don't know how she does it" is "with humor and grace!"

Blue-Eyed Bride said...

I love this. I think most of us marvel at other moms and how they manage to make it all work- no matter if they're the same or different than we are. Xo

I also loved your previous post. I feel a little convicted for not commenting often on many blogs. But I still read via google reader and when I click through from twitter.

cMe said...

I love this. My whopping two days of going back to work really gave me a (teeny tiny) dose of both worlds. Working was nice, it gave me a chance to get out, wear some makeup for something other than Walgreens + I only spent two hours a day with they were both pleasant, no crying and fussing.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

I seriously don't know how any of us do it. Because parenting is so, so hard. I've done both, and in both situations, I felt overwhelmed, overworked and exhausted. I'm assuming that is just my life for the next eighteen years ;)

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