Friday, July 11, 2008

Our week as normal people

This past week my kids and I participated in Cub Scout daycamp. At signup time, I learned that if I volunteered my scout could go free of charge, and my nonscout could go too, also free. Since saving $90 is important to me, I decided to go for it. More about the actual camp experiences later. Right now I want to concentrate on the hell our lives were this past week, when we did for 5 days what many if not most American families do most weeks of the year.

We had to get up early and be out of the house all day long, 5 days in a row, with packed lunches. I hate packing lunch, but I've ranted about that before. Moving on...

We had to be out of the house at 8 am each day, and returned about 4 pm, just like the elementary kids in our neighborhood who take the bus to school. And like a working mom, I was out those hours too.

So, during this week I left dirty breakfast dishes sitting on the counter all day long. We ate quick, lousy meals that were short on fresh vegetables. Only the laundry that we really needed got done. At least no one ran out of clean clothes but I could see that happening if we had to do that too long. Of course there's always Saturday, the day most people do such tasks. The kitchen and bathrooms did not get the cleaning attention they needed. We had very little time for our family reading time, which we all treasure. We didn't even do our catechism some of the days. I didn't do any personal reading either, and barely kept up with the news. There was no down time at all for me, and not much for the kids.

Of course if we were doing this all the time, we'd be good at it; we'd probably get up earlier, and we'd have better systems for getting things done. I guess. From the women's magazine articles and websites I've seen, working moms are struggling, all the time.

So if any working moms who do it to put food on the table and a roof over your family's heads are reading this, I empathize with you and salute you. I don't know how you do it.

But for the working moms who are doing it to pay for nice new cars, cool gaming systems for the kids, and expensive resort vacations, I have to say: what are you thinking?

I once had a big house, a large grocery budget, and disposable income to spend on stuff. Now, I have a little house and none of those other things. And I would never, ever go to work simply for the purpose of having that disposable income. I'd go back if I needed the money to buy groceries or shoes. But I wouldn't do it to buy really nice cool stylish shoes. Or vacations. Or boats. Or whatever else people say they can't live without.

11 years ago I quit my job to stay home with my first baby. So many of my female coworkers told me how much they envied me. "I'd give anything to stay home" they all crooned. But they wouldn't. The mom with 2 BMWs and the Colorado dude ranch vacation every year wouldn't give those things up. The mom with the house on the golf course and the country club membership wouldn't give them up.

And if one of them would say to me "staying home with my kids is just not [stimulating, fulfilling, whatever] enough for me," I think I might slap her. OK, I know I wouldn't, but I'd be tempted to. It'd have to be an awfully fulfilling job for me to give up so much of my time with my kids, unless I was the worker and their dad was home with them.

Next week we have a few things planned but all in all it'll be much quieter. We'll be able to read in the hammock and go hiking with our dog and do our housework. I'm very thankful that we are not normal.


Sandy said...

Every year when we do camp, I tell myself that if we did it all the time we would have a better system and it would not be so stressful. I told myself the same thing when we had classes one day a week and had to leave the house by 8:30. We did that for nine months and it never got any better. Even during weeks we just have a lot of appointments or errands to run, we do't do laundry, the housework is ignored and we eat out a lot. We already have a system that works. Staying home.

DADvocate said...

So many of my female coworkers told me how much they envied me. "I'd give anything to stay home" they all crooned. But they wouldn't.

This is so true. I know people who won't give up partying on the weekends to be with their kids.

I don't envy you. I envy your husband. He has a spouse who understands true quality of life.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely, but there is nothing new about that!

When we had to have R to school every morning in 1st grade it really taxed our relationship. Neither of us being too energetic in the morning and only one of us truly in a hurry was not a good mix.


Isn't it nice to absolutely love your children? I mean to love them so much, that they are more important than things.

SmallWorld said...

Wow! What a dreadful camp! I'll be sure and tell the moms around here not to complain next year about our council's 3-hour evening camp!