“I’ve got three different things to finish today and my mortgage payment is two days late. But I’m just going to check Twitter really quick.”
I’ve always wanted the chance to be at home with my kids all day. I wanted to see how the other half lives. Like those Facebook parents who post adorable pics of their little ones wearing whipped cream mustaches at the local coffee shop. The picture-perfect selfies at the park somehow taken at 1:30 in the afternoon.
I couldn’t help it. I had stay-at-home parent envy.
So, I made the leap. I quit my steady day job to work at home with my husband, joining the unpredictable world of the freelancers and self-employed.
I had it all planned out: I’d get up early and work out before the boys got out of bed, make tasty, homemade breakfasts, send them to grab the bus with full tummies and happy smiles, clean the house, and then write—actually getting paid to do what I love. The kids would get off the bus in the afternoon and we’d do homework at the dining room table together. For dinner, we’d enjoy something delicious that magically materialized in the crockpot. Evenings would be for family time. No frantic grocery trips at 5:30 PM with the rest of the poor working stiffs. We’d play games, watch movies together, play outside and just enjoy the fleeting moments of childhood.
Don’t laugh. Even then, I figured it was probably too good to be true. But for the first week or so, that’s exactly how it was. Things change, though, and real life intrudes. Here is a honest look at a day in the life of this WAHM.
4:58 AM: I wake up to my littlest’s face only a few inches from mine in the darkness. “Momma,” he whispers, breathing his morning breath softly into my face. “Did you know that penguins are the only birds that can’t fly?”
5:06 AM: There’s a rhythmic tapping on my now closed bedroom door. Six-year-old Tavin would like me to know that he built something really cool with Legos. I tuck him back in bed, glance at my clock, and calculate how many minutes until the alarm goes off. Not enough.
6:30 AM: I’ve overslept. Middle schooler Dakota announces this in a whisper loud enough to wake up the neighbors. His voice cracks.
6:45 AM: I remind Dakota, again, about the need for clean socks and underwear, brushed teeth and judicious application of deodorant as he wolfs down a half a box of off-brand Cocoa Krispies.
7:00 AM: I check my email and my daily to-do list as Tavin eats an off-brand Pop-Tart and watches an episode of CyberChase on PBS Kids. I’ve seen this particular episode twelve times in the two months since I quit my job.
7:30 AM: Husband stumbles through the living room, grunting “good morning.” At least I think that’s what he says. He’s not at his best until about 10:30 AM.
7:42 AM: I was working late on finishing a writing gig the night before and forgot to pack Tavin’s snacks and backpack. “I had homework,” he tells me soberly. “We’ll do twice as much today,” I promise, stuffing a granola bar in his bag. Homework? He’s in Kindergarten.
7:45 AM: The bus arrives. When I lean down to kiss the top of my son’s curly head, he jumps. Now I have a fat lip. Wincing, I blow lavish kisses to him, and he waves and heads off to start his day.
8:10 AM: Starbucks drive-thru. I’ve told myself I need to quit the habit, but creativity requires chocolate. And these 17 minutes are my me-time.
8:40 AM: I’ve got three different things to finish today and my mortgage payment is two days late. But I’m just going to check Twitter really quick.
11:16 AM: Husband sneaks up behind me. “That doesn’t look like writing to me,” he says, before making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and heading outside to mow the lawn. There are no clean dishes and hubs used the last butter knife, so I eat a dry tortilla and open Microsoft Word.
2:36 PM: I wake up suddenly, realizing there’s drool on my keyboard and 74 pages of the letter ‘a.’ Dakota’s bus drops him off in 10 minutes.
4:06 PM: I manage to finish an assignment while listening to Dakota’s detailed—very detailed—description of his current favorite video game. Tavin bursts through the door with his dad, whose turn it was to meet him at the bus stop. “The principal told me I’m ‘non-compliant,’” he says proudly. “Can I have a pudding cup?”
5:23 PM: I forgot to thaw the chicken I’d planned for dinner. That’s okay, there were no clean dishes, anyway. Pizza, it is.
7:42 PM: Tavin splashes me with about six gallons of water while I’m trying to wash his hair in the bathtub. I can’t get mad. When he laughs, he gets these dimples that are so cute.
9:02 PM: Dakota is trying to avoid taking a shower, so engages me in a political discussion. I’m constantly amazed at how a kid with no concept of the benefit of deodorant can be such an informed debater. I lose, per usual.
10:13 PM: I should be finishing up assignment number three, but I feel like I haven’t seen my husband all day. We cuddle, and I give him a foot rub because he did the dishes while I argued good-naturedly with our middle-schooler who was supposed to be showering.
11:06 PM: Bedtime. I resolve to get everything on my to-do list done the next day.
12:59 PM: Door tapping again. “Momma,” Tavin says sleepily. “Don’t forget you’re chaperoning my field trip to the Nature Center tomorrow.” Head slap. I did forget. He throws his arms around me before I can lead him back to bed. “I love you,” he says. “I’ll see you in the morning. No work tomorrow!” That’s what he’s said every night since I left the day job.
At first glance, all of that might scare the most SAH-parent-envying mom out there. It’s chaos, and not even the controlled kind. But I don’t regret a single thing. My new life might not be exactly selfie-perfect, but I love it, and wouldn’t take that day job back if you paid me. Well, probably not, anyway.★
Kristen Brockmeyer is a WAHM mom who spends her days writing romance novels (did you know people will actually pay you to do that?) and other freelance stuff, helping her husband to raise two school-age boys, and procrastinating. She knows at least 93 ways to avoid doing dishes, can type one-handed while a cat sleeps on her right arm, and for the promise of a Starbucks decaf iced mocha, will do your dishes.