In some ways it feels like yesterday. But it feels like a different life. I was a different person. I had clothes that fit, could afford makeup, and had a W2 to value (even if undervalue) myself by.
I was also delusional. I was just entering the third trimester of pregnancy, so perhaps that explains why I believed these things about my future life as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM, by the way how lame is that acronym? Why not VEEP (voluntarily-eschewing-employment-parent?) I’m using VEEP from now on):
1.) My house will be cleaner.
Yes, because a house that is empty 3/4 of my waking hours will be much neater when I and two small children now occupy it constantly. Of course, I’m home to clean it, right? I wish I could find the original quote to properly attribute it, but I read somewhere cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. That’s true.
2.) I’ll at least have finally have some time to do a few creative things I’ve always wanted to do. Kids take naps and watch TV sometimes, right?
Ha! Want to know what writing/crafting/freelance/etc. is like for a stay-at-home-parent of more than one child? Try this experiment: Set a timer for 5 minutes. Start on the project of your choice. When the timer goes off, go feed something, clean poop off something, or hold something that is screaming loudly for no reason or a combination of these for the next hour or two. Repeat 3-4 times until you just bang your head against something for the five minutes on the timer instead. That’s what it’s like. By the time another adult arrives home, trust me, all you can handle is a stiff drink or to lie prostrate, whimpering, on the couch for a few hours.
3.) I’ll be able to slack a little some days. I just won’t brag about it or anything. I’m sure that’s what other VEEPs do.
Do you know what kids do to parents who try to read, watch TV or anything else unrelated to their immediate needs or desires? They torture them. They destroy their most prized possessions. They eat them alive. (They do the exact same thing to sick parents.) If you want to stay alive, you have to stay one step ahead of the little shits (see #4 for details about why this is an appropriate moniker for them). Lunch better be ready before the thought occurs to them to be hungry. You better have another project ready to go before they notice how boring the first one is (approximate timeframe for that is under 5 minutes, FYI). No demon born of hell can devise torture that compares to what a bored toddler whose blood sugar is starting to dip will do to you. Do not test this, just believe me. It’s for your own safety.
4.) There won’t be that much poop.
(Okay, I didn’t have this exact thought, but I never thought about how much of my day will be about poop). My sense of humor has always been similar to that of a little boy in that I found poop very amusing. Maybe my life now is punishment for that. I have an 8-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. And a cat. And a dog. If someone were to accurately title my current position, it would probably be CFO- Chief Fecal Officer. My entire day’s timing revolves around when other creatures evacuate their bowels. Except the cat; he’ll let me scoop his littler box whenever I want. He’s just proud that someone knows even his stool should be preserved forever in a plastic bag and wonders where I keep the pile of gifts he makes me that I scoop out and take away to enjoy.
The boy is on no regular elimination schedule. His ass will explode with putrid-smelling shades of green and brown any time. If I were to keep a chart of the times, I would guess that we would find a direct correlation between his bowel movements and my dining. When he blows, though, it needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise things get more than a little messy. What’s funny is as I write this (on my iPhone word pad while standing in the middle of my living room watching my son cruise around my living room) the boy is obviously grunting one out. In his usual style, he’s following it up by sitting down and bouncing up and down a few times to make sure it does indeed spill out up onto that chubby little back of his that I bathed roughly 15 min ago. I will BRB after I avoid this affecting my carpet. (Note: See #2. It’s been a full 24 hours later before I could type another word. And that’s only because the girl is with Grandma and Grandpa and hubby’s downstairs with the boy. Anyway, got lucky yesterday and poop only penetrated one layer of clothing. Yay for absorbent fleece sweatshirts!) (Another quick parenthetical interruption; the boy’s nursery is across from the office where I’m typing and I can hear his daddy saying “Oh, God, it smells so bad…”; Daddy is now stopping in to tell me that we should get the boy back on a strictly formula diet, the solid food is making his feces too odiferous. Mental note: This will be my last post involving poop as it seems to spur the boy on.)
Our dog is only 10 months old, has special needs, and is still “learning”, so I have to take her out at 7:30 am and then again every half-hour from 10 am on until she poops again. If I don’t, she finds the dining room most convenient for depositing her ass’s contents. She’s noticed I don’t like the dining room defecation, though, and tries to eat it all up before I notice. “Yes, this is actually your life now,” I tell myself.
The human girl typically goes in the morning. If we were to chart her poops, there would likely be a correlation between her events and her brother’s dining. Yes, she is potty-trained and even though she can’t wipe herself, smearing some poop off a tiny ass and flushing isn’t that bad. But, when you’re three, “things” happen. Poop in a diaper is supposed to happen, thus there are a variety of ways even spill-overs can be easily handled. Tiny onesies can be rinsed or thrown away. The soiled diaper and any cleaning supplies can be deposited in a magical genie. Come to think of it, though, dragging a thin plastic sack of baby’s eliminations that is secured only by my own not-so-nautical knots to the garbage outside provides some less-than-magical moments and is yet another responsibility of myself as CFO. (Run on what?! Too many parentheses what?! Seriously, back to the girl..) “Things” that happen to a three-year-old don’t happen in conveniently absorbent, disposable packages. These “things” can ruin several layers of clothing, furniture and a young girl’s sense of pottying self-esteem.
Now, though, we’re mostly past the accidents, so furniture has been spared lately. But, last Thursday, she missed the hole. In the toilet, that is. She went in while I was outside taking the dog out and got her little Lightening McQueen padded seat on there, hopped up, and missed the hole when the poop came out. When I came in after bagging the dog’s deposits, everything seemed normal. Princess was screaming “I made a poopie, you have to wipe it!!!” at the top of her lungs. When I entered the bathroom, I knew something was amiss. “Mom, I got a little poop on my pajamas. But I did NOT have an accident,” she told me proudly. At least I think that’s what she said; I was gagging. There were chunks of solid brown poop hung up on the handle of the padded mini-seat. (She’s a log-maker, regular and healthy for sure. Probably unrelated to her diet.) Her pajamas and her were entirely covered in similar chunks and smears. I will stop describing there. But no, this was no accident. It was another incident the CFO handled readily and without complaint.
5.) No matter what the sacrifices, at least my children will receive the attention they deserve instead of spending the entire day with strangers.
For the first two years of my daughter’s life, I worked full-time. Luckily, much of her daycare was provided by her grandparents. About a year before I quit my job, though, my mom was all, “Jenn, I’ve finally found a job after looking for one for several years in this terrible economy, isn’t that great?” And I was all, “Really, where? No seriously, I need the phone number. They need to hear about your embezzling habit and deviant behaviors.”
But, she wouldn’t give me the number and went on to join the ranks of the employed. Like others their age, my husband’s parents winter in Florida. So, my precious angel went on to spend her days with strangers at a daycare. You know what those strangers did? They created an entire day that revolved around her learning, socializing, arts & crafts, exercising and sleeping properly. Never once did they do the things that a parent would do, like dishes. Or laundry. Or grocery shopping. Or cursing while paying bills online. I bet they never once said, “I’ve got to go handle your brother’s diaper blowout. Sit in that chair and watch TV until I get back.” Or, “Please, honey, mommy’s ears are tired. Can you just stop talking for five minutes? I’ll give you a cookie.”
So, if you are one of those women who is jealous of me, you should be; I hang out with kids and spend my husband’s money all day. Still, while you’re out to lunch complaining to your friends how you’d like to be a VEEP like me, just look at your friends while you’re talking. Be grateful that you don’t have to start writing a blog to replace the conversations you have with them because otherwise you don’t get to “talk” to grownups.
And look at your clothes. Do they fit? Are they covered in poop?
And when you get home from your job and hug your child/children and they see that “You are my world. I really missed you,” look on your face, know that my children probably received a “You are my world. I would trade my right arm to leave here for just 10 minutes,” look about 15 times throughout the day.
But I am proud of my current position. I love those little shits (much better than the big ones they do). I’m Jennifer Greenberg, a VEEP CFO, and tomorrow I will enthusiastically report for doody. (So punny, right? Tired of parentheses yet?)