The Kind of Mom I Am

by Jen on August 2, 2010

in Fact of the Day,Lowering the bar for mothers everywhere,Rant of the Week

There’s an expression that shows up on a lot of little tchotchkes* meant for teachers that says “The 3 best things about teaching: June, July and August.”

I hate it. I hate the idea that the reason people teach is to get three months off a year. It diminishes the education I earned and the effort I put forth. All that being said, I admit I like having three months off, that staying home with my kids each summer is one perk of being a teacher. I get to metaphorically catch my breath and literally get caught up on all the things I did not get done during the previous nine months.

And that’s the thing. The three months of “summer break” come with a trade off:  nine months of the year I am generally so swamped that my other job — as a mother — takes a back seat. A back-of-the-bus seat.  By the end of the school year my house has arrived at a level of disorder just short of a visit from a TV news camera crew. I would like to stab every person who each summer asks me “Soooo… enjoying your summer off?” with a tone that implies teachers are shiftless good-for-nothings, lounging around drawing a paycheck, while hardworking tax-payers slave to fund them. It seriously takes me the entire summer to get my house and home to a base level of organization  and cleanliness, just so that we can spend the next nine months tearing it all back down again.

And  — ok, fine, whatever – I’ll be honest and admit that summers off is actually one of the reasons I chose teaching: to have time for my family, while still being able to have a career.  I enjoy the extra time I spend with my kids over the summer, but I have to come clean about something else.  As a stay-at-home mom, I kinda suck. A lot.  And by “kinda,” I mean I do. And by “a lot,” I mean a-frickin-lot-to-the-nth-degree.

I’m not an all-around terrible mother.  As a making-sure-your-kids-are-learning mom, I do better than average. As a traveling-with-your-kids mom, I’m a rock star.  As a spending-time-with-your-kids mom, a putting-your-kids-first-most-but-not-all-of-the-time-because-that’s-actually-called-a-martyr mom, I could set the gold fucking standard.

But the stay-at-home, cooking-balanced-meals-served-at-actual-dinner-time, time-for-your-nap, laundry-folded-and-actually-put-away-in-drawers kind of mom?  Yeah, not so much. Even during summer break, while I’m not working outside the home, my kids go to daycare two days a week. And I still can barely get my household management shit together.

I hate the term “mommy wars” like I hate the term “man cave,” with the burning hatred of a thousand… oh, I don’t know, something really hot and flamey… but I have to make the disclaimer “not to start another mommy war,” before saying: how do people do it? I could not stay home every day, I don’t think.  But I also don’t think I could work year-round.  Seriously, how do people do it? Whichever one they do.  Stay at home full-time without letting their house, or children… mostly children, drive them insane or work full-time year-round without living in disorder and filth ad infinitum?

As I type, every clean article of clothing in my household is in a laundry basket.  Oh, go ahead… ask me about my laundry basket collection.  I have about two per person, plus a few extras for things like towels.  Because I basically use them as our dressers during the school year; we live out of them. But school ended two months ago and I still can’t get every single clean article all put away at once.

There are three weeks left  of summer break, one of which will be spent at the beach.  So I have two weeks to finish what I haven’t already accomplished in the last two months before I succumb (willingly) to working mom denial syndrome again.

But one last thing I forgot to mention…  The when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-get-going kind of mom?  Look her up in the dictionary.  There’s a picture of me.

*OMG.  I can’t believe I just spelled tchotchke correctly off the top of my head, but I did.  For real.

**I also have to add that the Hubster does a full 50% share of the cooking and cleaning during the school year, so it’s not a case of someone not pulling his weight.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 grimsaburger August 3, 2010 at 7:34 am

You sound like a fantastic mom, the kind of mom I hope to be.

(Minus the laundry baskets, which make me crazy to look at.) :)
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2 jen August 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Yeah so I have been staying at home for hmm, basically 3 1/2 months now and well, I had to make a goal for myself to get the dishes/laundry/litter changes/cleaning done in a timely manner. It’s just that I like to read during nap time more than I like to do that stuff. Right now, I’m sitting on a dog hair covered chair next to a laundry basket of towels and instead of vacuuming the chair off or folding the laundry, I’m catching up on blogs. So yeah, I’d love to have a perfectly clean and orderly house but eh, I think you just pick what is important to you. It’s more important to me to put a puzzle together with C than to fold the laundry. It’s more important to me to run most every night than to vacuum more than once every two weeks. Etc. Etc. It sounds to me like you do just fine.
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3 July 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm

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