Being an at-home mom has lots of challenges. Before I had children, I had lots of uninterrupted time to accomplish what needed to be done, and when I did something, it stayed "done."
After I stayed at home with our three kids, all close in age, all that went out the window. I learned to accomplish things in bits and pieces.
Uninterrupted stretches of 10 minutes were valued, and nap time, ah, nap time!
This was an intensive time with three little ones and little adult contact. I loved my children and our time together, but all the standards I had unconsciously judged myself by were now inapplicable.
No one told me I was doing a good job. I never got a raise. Even the things I did were quickly undone. When I cleaned the house, it was soon messy again. When I cooked dinner, it was eaten within 20 minutes. Then I got to clean up again. And laundry, well, that was a never-ending task. It didn't help that our society doesn't seem to value mothers.
One Christmas, after our youngest was born, I went to a party at my husband's firm. When I was asked, "And what do you do?" I responded, "I am an at-home mom." Conversations quickly ended and people moved on. It didn't seem to matter that I was an accomplished individual; no one wanted to dig beneath the surface.
Later, as I evaluated what had happened, I realized that I had a choice. I could find a job outside our home where others would value what I was doing, or I could learn to value what I was doing right now. I sat down and began to write out what I did during the day. Yes, I wiped noses and comforted little ones, changed diapers, and washed dishes.
But I also did a lot more. Then I translated the list into a job description. I was a purchasing agent, social secretary, financial officer, chauffeur, coach, domestic engineer, and, don't forget, laundress. You name it, I did it. It all fell under the job description of "mom." I began to realize just how much I did. I actually ran a small company.
Then I began to use the most valuable tool I've found for helping me stay upbeat. No, its definitely not a to-do list. But right next to that, I have a Success List of my true accomplishments. When the house is messy, and the laundry is piling up, I look at my Success List and see what I have really done.
Some of my successes were when Max learned to tie his shoes, Blythe told me she loved me, and Alexandra was potty-trained. And when I was discouraged about how little it seemed I accomplished, I could look at this list and remember all that I did that can't be seen.
The next year, at my husband's Christmas party, when someone asked me, "And what do you do?" I answered, "I am the CEO of von Reckers, von Reckers & von Reckers."
What a difference that year made!
Parents: To submit a first-person essay on your own parenting solutions, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Parenting, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115.
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