By Pamela J. Schultz
I silently groan as I stare at the laundry pile that has now escaped the boundaries of the baskets and is spilling over onto the laundry room floor. “It’s actually able to creep under the door all by itself,” I mutter. Yes, this is what my life has become. Now, I actually talk to laundry! I marvel at the abrupt changes my life has undergone since becoming a full time “stay at home mom” six years ago.
For one thing, I wouldn't have been caught dead in the sweat shirt and torn jeans I was wearing today. Although I’d only been dressed about two hours, my sweatshirt already had juice stains, toast crumbs, and a nice blob of dried oatmeal on it from my 15 month old's breakfast, and, as for the jeans, well, they were comfortable. As recently as baby number two, I would have changed the stained sweat shirt, but, hey, after three kids I know it’s a wasted effort—the clean shirt will be dirty within the next hour, and besides, the sweat shirt thrown into the dirty basket would tip the delicate balance on the mountain of clothes already there, and they really would begin to move into my kitchen. I give myself a little pep talk by remembering that I still put on makeup AND exercise. Oh, and I wear earrings every day. For some reason, this small bit of “accessorizing” makes me feel in tune with my former, super organized self.
I have to admit that sometimes I wistfully think about all the designer suits and dresses that used to hang in my closet. I used to be a working professional. As a broker for one of the largest brokerage and mutual fund companies in the nation, I was knowledgeable about stocks, bonds, options, and mutual funds. My conversation used to be littered with phrases such as, “The P.E. ratio on that particular stock is…”, “We’ll set your net credit and debit on your option spread order at…” I now spend my day saying such things as, (to my son who just turned five while he’s in the bathroom) “Please aim it in the water!”, and to my 15 month old daughter, “Hello, pretty princess, mommy loves you so much. Tell mommy what the dogie says,” as I proceed to loudly make every animal sound imaginable for her.
When my husband, who still is a working professional, and whom I sometimes secretly envy because he gets to spend his entire day with adults who don’t scream, argue, or throw things, comes home and says, “Boy, what a day!” I stare at him skeptically with raised eyebrows because there is no way that his day filled with intelligent, reasonable adults comes close to anything I have experienced with three kids under the age of seven. He, being a wise man who has been married to me for many years knows that he should go no further when he sees the gleam of battle in my eyes. He has not endured the “exploding diapers” nor suffered the indignity of being hemmed in by cars at the drive-thru bank teller when both our baby and our four year old son projectile vomited all over the back of my head…with my seven year old daughter wailing, “Gross Mom! They’re throwing up all over me, this is a total barf-o-rama!”, with nowhere to go but forward, and with my son’s warm vomit dripping down the back of my shirt, I gamely smile at the teller and say, “Please deposit this into checking.”
In my most harried, “these kids are driving me nuts” moments, I often ask myself questions such as “What has become of MY life?” and, “have I accomplished anything today?” Well, of course I have. What I do is demonstrated in a hundred different ways. It’s my baby laughing gleefully as she plays peek-a-boo with me around the corner of the family room wall. It’s my son, muddy and sweaty from soccer practice hurling him-self into my arms declaring loudly, “Mom, I love you!” (I secretly dread the soon to arrive day when he is “too big” for these displays of affection). It’s sitting by my oldest daughter’s side as she happily tells me everything that has happened during her eventful day of 1st grade. It’s being able to rock my sick baby during the middle of the day and feel her warm breath on my neck as I gently rub her back. These small moments are exactly the reason why I’m home with my kids, and I’m thankful that I can be.
It’s true that my 4-wheel drive is no longer the sleek, shiny, urban assault vehicle it used to be---it’s now eight years old with sticky fingerprints on the windows and enough cracker crumbs in the back seat to feed a family of four. My husband and I no longer eat out at all the trendy, “nice” restaurants. A meal out is often the local pizza place, McDonald’s, or the buffet line at the nearest family style restaurant. And, yes, my wallet is a lot thinner than it used to be. But for all the mayhem and madness each day brings, I've come to realize that I’m exactly where I want to be.