Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Supervisor And Home Maker: An Inside Look at the Job of a SAHM (Part One)

Last week my mother asked which I thought was harder: being a stay at home mom or a working mom. I answered, a little sheepishly, being a SAHM. Prior to staying at home, I couldn't understand what was so difficult about getting basic chores done. All I saw were FaceBook status' about playdates, lunches with friends and enjoying sunny days at the park.

What I didn't know what that all of those had been arranged because if mom and the kids stayed in the house for one more moment, someone would have ended up in a crib or playpen all day (probably mommy).

Think of being a SAHM as the equivalent of being a supervisor at work. You have people that you constantly need to check on, follow up with, and evaluate.

Of course, there's an exception. Instead of checking on your employees each hour, you check on them every ten minutes (or less). Instead of keeping them from sending out bad information or messing up product, you're trying to keep them from killing themselves. Or each other. The younger your subordinates, the more often they have to be monitored. Therefore, a chore that you would normally complete in ten to fifteen minutes now takes half an hour. Or more.

Still not following? Let me provide you with an example:

Your two employees are happily strapped into their respective high chairs. The newest employee is drinking the last of the milk from his bottle. The more seasoned employee is munching on eggs, toast, and remnants of yesterday's dinner surreptitiously saved under the high chair cover. (For those of you who are not parents, this is probably buttered corn kernels, now the consistency of raisins. Or something equally gross. And chewy.) You have just completed your own breakfast and use this as an opportunity to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. This task should take about fifteen minutes.
Correction: This task should take a normal adult, with no other obligations or distractions, about fifteen minutes.

You start by rinsing your dishes and clearing the counter. Just as the butter makes its way back into the fridge, you hear the distinct sound of a bottle hitting the floor. As the refrigerator door closes, the crying begins. You walk over, pick up the bottle, and give it back to the baby. You also notice that your two year old is practicing her "sharing" techniques. Very, very nice... except the baby will choke if he gets his applesauce covered hands on her discarded egg whites.

Move high chairs further apart. Step on Cheerio, smashing it to bits and leaving oat carnage in your wake. Go back to cleaning counter.

You manage to get the counter wiped down and the skillet in the sink before your two year old announces: "Mommy! Pee Pee!". You head over with a damp washrag and quickly wipe down the two egg yolk covered hands threatening to soil your shirt as you help her down from the chair. You head to the bathroom, and once again wonder if giving M&Ms as a reward are a good idea, since she's eaten more chocolate than eggs this morning.

*Note: A good supervisor knows that you must keep your employee morale high if you want to see results. And when it comes to potty training, you desperately want to see results.

After strapping your associate back into her high chair, you resume work on the skillet. You try to supress the excitement of being able to open the dishwasher without having to fend off the small intruders who always attempt to climb onto the door. And eat the knives.

You get a plate, spatula and two utensils into the machine before the baby starts to fuss. Actually, he's been fussing for awhile. He dropped his bottle. Again. It's because he's no longer interested in eating, and now wants to get down and play. You dampen a paper towel and head over to wipe his hands. And face. And eyelashes. And the back of his head. And his left foot.

If you're a parent, this requires no explanation. If you're not, well... here:

You let your underling down from the high chair so he can... go do whatever it is underlings do. As long as he doesn't fuss, break something, or get into mortal danger, you don't really care. You've got one clear counter and a sink full of dishes to worry about. Speaking of which, you've added a baby spoon, bowl, bottle and high chair tray to the pile. Which makes the counter look far less clean than it did two minutes ago.

As you scrape banana crust from the tray and wonder again how he manages to get food everywhere but his mouth, your two year old decides she is also done. You know this because she has taken all the food off of her plate, and put the plate upside down on the top of her head. You begin to wish you had scrambled the eggs, instead of cooking them over easy. You walk over to remove the plate from her head, which has stayed neatly in place despite her attempt dodge you. Egg yolk is helpful like that.

As you put the food back on the plate, your toddler gives you a great big hug. Affectionate? Yes. Sanitary? No. You reach for yet another paper towel, and decide a wash rag would do a better job on those egg-yolk covered fingers. And face. And head.

And then you realize you haven't heard a peep from the baby.

Stay tuned for the next episode of "Supervisor And Home Maker: Why Nothing Ever Gets Done Around Here."

Since I deprived you last week by not posting anything (my mother informed me that this had been duly noted and she was going through withdrawals) I'll post part two on Wednesday. Or Thursday.

These things sometimes take longer than they should you know.

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