See you later? Thanks for the warning.

There are hazards to being a stay at home mom. But none so great as the inevitable “always available” stigma. This is the belief that develops within all of the people around you, friends, family, neighbours, even the local shopkeepers. It’s the belief that you are always available for whatever needs to be done. It’s the idea that you’re home all day, and would welcome an interruption, could use a visit from a well-meaning friend or relative, to brighten your day and take away the monotony.

What many of those well-meaning friends and relatives fail to realize is that there is ALWAYS something to be done. A good stay at home mother is not sitting on her ass watching TV all day, just wishing for some shining hero to save her from the boredom of having nothing to do. I’ve posted before the busyness of my average day. When I planned my career as a stay at home mom, I knew what it entailed. After 20 years as a stay at home mom, I’m extremely good at my job.

But, as I’m sure you’ve discovered. I have one major problem with being a stay at home mom. The assumption that people have that I have “nothing better to do” with my time than entertain them/make things for them/do things for them.

Now, I normally don’t bitch about my lot in life. I’m generally quite comfortable with the way things are all around, but today, today I’m frustrated.

 For quite some time now, I’ve found myself interrupted on more occasions than I can count. My day, as I plan it in the morning, or perhaps the night before, doesn’t pan out. This leaves me feeling as though I’ve done a lot, without accomplishing anything.

Monday is a typical day for me to do laundry, and we all know how much I truly love to do laundry. Doing laundry is a great time to multi-task. I can get so many other things done while spending the day with my washing machine. While doing laundry, my time flows like a well-built clock…unless an unexpected guest decides to grace me with their presence. In that case, the clock grinds to a halt, and the pendulum stops swinging.

Notice that I wrote an “unexpected” guest.

There’s that assumption that I have nothing to do today. There’s that assumption that I am always available. There’s the source of my frustration.

Instead of assuming that I’m free for the day to entertain/host lunch/brew coffee, I’d like to find a way to convince the world that a phone call to see what I’m up to would just add to the productivity of the day.

Even on days like today, when, while doing laundry (someone ELSE’s by the way) I steal a moment to write a blog post, I am STILL doing something. It would be nice to receive a phone call/message to know of an impending visitor. The stigma of being a stay at home mom gives others the idea that I am always willing to drop whatever it is I am doing, with immediacy, to answer the need to be entertained.

 I have ONE friend who honors this courtesy. Only one. He never, never shows up unexpected. His visits are always announced days ahead, granting me the opportunity to clear my day of responsibilities, leaving it free to spend in the garden discussing the varied aspects of life.

 Because you see, regardless of the interruption, the chore/task/responsibility still needs to be completed. All the unannounced visit means to me is that now I have to fit that chore/task/responsibility into another time, which is invariably already slated for another chore/task/responsibility. So, the laundry I was going to wash today, still needs to be washed, it doesn’t miraculously disappear when that unexpected guest arrives, but now I have to wash it tomorrow, when I had planned on overhauling the vegetable garden to ready it for fall plantings. When that one friend phones to arrange a time to visit, he always asks when I’m available. He has the good grace to take my day into consideration. Why can’t they all be like that?

You may suggest that I explain this to the many friends, family members, neighbours, shopkeepers who insist on assuming I’m always available. But, I will tell you it has zero effect.

What I’m left with is a burden of responsibility cloaked in a nice sounding attempt to brighten my day. The phone call plays out, something like this….”I’m heading out of town to travel north to the city tomorrow, thought you’d like to take a road trip with me, see the sights, get out of the house for the day, have a little adventure”….”Sure, that would be great!”….”Awesome, I have to do blahblahblahblah, while I’m there and thought maybe you could keep an eye on soandso for me”. There it is. It’s not entirely my company or well being the phonecalling conscientious friend is concerned with. It’s the childcare services I can provide as a passenger in the car, or a stand-byer in the dressmaker’s shop as a fitting goes on. Except that ONE friend, he never requires anything of me outside of my company.

Having burdens of responsibility fed to me in the guise of a fulfilling opportunity sucks more than an unexpected visitor.

And it’s not just the chores that get pushed to the wayside by unexpected guests. It’s the ME time that suffers the most. That time that I slate for myself to feed my own needs. More times than not, I’ll fill that “me” time with all the chores that didn’t get accomplished. This is a problem because I’m one of those stay at home moms who put their own well-being before their kids. I know that if I’m not well, spiritually, mentally, physically, then I can’t possibly raise well adjusted kids. I keep myself healthy and this in turn means I don’t ever resent my kids, nor do I have moments of distress when I can’t ‘handle’ my kids. It’s a theory that I’ve put into practice for more than 20 years, and one that works exceptionally well. Those unexpected visits? They have a rippling effect.

The irony of this all, is that the life I’ve chosen is meant to be free of obligations and burdens. And that is probably why I’m feeling such frustration. When exactly did I lose control of my freedom to choose?

Know what’s worse? That after having re-read this post before clicking “publish” I realize that I sound like a naive woman who doesn’t have a backbone or any individuality. I sound like every other stay at home mom I know, the ones complaining that there’s nothing good on TV from 2 til 4 in the afternoon. The ones who’ll stop by my house this afternoon, because they’re bored, and figure I am too.

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12 Comments

  1. MDM said,

    August 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    So, it would be ok if I stopped by un-announced to break up your day, and take you out of your schedule? LMAO I kid. I understand what you me though.

    Melanie

    ps check my blog when you have time, HUGE update today.

    • August 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      HAHAHAHA!!!Okay, I’ll admit, I would drop EVERYTHING for you if you showed up on my doorstep.
      Gonna go read your blog now…
      Hey, when did you change your gravatar? That’s damn awesome.

      • Melanie said,

        September 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

        I think I just figured it out again and changed it. Thanks. Aww you are too sweet, and thanks for the awesome, supportive words you posted on my blog.

  2. Mindless Rambler said,

    August 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    What can I say to this other than “I hear ya”. Great post!

  3. Diane said,

    August 30, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Sing it, sister. Sing it. This is one of the main reasons I distance myself from most local friends. That and I’m cranky & antisocial.

    • August 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      I’ve been accused of being antisocial, but I just want to be left alone…they’re not the same things are they? Speaking of cranky, I collected a little something for you on my recent trip away, but have not as of yet, been able to get it in the post to you. This makes me cranky. I’ll let you know when it’s finally in the mail.

      • Diane said,

        August 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm

        No, of course they’re not the same but antisocial has that extra ring of psychosis to it. I’m all about extra rings.

        A little something? For me? Oh, dear. We’re smackdab in the middle of a move to another state so I wouldn’t mail anything for a while. The USPS has enough trouble getting my stuff to me when it’s not chasing me around the country.

        • August 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm

          I’m into extra rings…maybe I’ll start embracing the term antisocial!

          Damn, see what I miss when I don’t get enough blog time in?? Is this the move you mentioned a few months ago? The one back towards family? Or something else? I’m working my way down my blog list, so will catch up what I’ve missed soon. Anyways, it’s just some fabric, tomato of course, and only about a metre because it was the end of the bolt, but I’ll save it until you’re settled.

          • Diane said,

            September 1, 2010 at 12:39 am

            Yeah, life’s become rather exciting over the past month or two. I’ve not done a lot of blogging about the details but will have to at least do an overview once we get settled in. (This is indeed the move back towards family, although still a few hours away.)

  4. Lisa said,

    September 4, 2010 at 4:54 am

    I can’t bear my schedule being out of whack. I get mad and have to hold it in. Nothing more nerve wracking than having to drop everything.

    • September 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      EXACTLY! Sometimes, it takes everything I’ve got just to hold my tongue. Tomorrow is the first day of school, and I’ve told every person I’ve been in contact with that I don’t want to see ANYBODY on my first day without the kids. There’s so much I want to accomplish (including blogging) that I will have an absolute bird if I’m disturbed.


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