Grading Mommy

I chose this. This life. This job. This this. This stay-at-homeness. My choice. For my family.

So, why do I sometimes stop and wonder what the heck I was thinking to leave my job, my professional persona, my heels behind? Why do I feel I’m not as good at this whole stay at home mom gig as I thought I would be?
Back in the working world I suffered through the annual review. I took those days away from real work to complete the torturous process of self-analysis and goal setting for the next year. I strangely enjoyed those meetings, dreaming up new challenges and ways to meet them, looking back on a year’s worth of work to see what, in actuality, had I accomplished. New clients, client growth, story successes. All documented in a spreadsheet or report and gone over by bosses and bosses bosses followed up with a line-by-line of new goals and the all important performance raise circled at the bottom, initialed by me, put in a folder to endure the rinse and repeat process the following year.
The parameters for this new job are a bit more variable. Success or failure is fluid, the final results not in until years and years in the future. Instead, I find I measure myself against the day-to-day to-do list. And I’m often disheartened by what I see.
Cooking? Passable. Nothing too inspired.
Laundry? Onesies still banana stained, shorts still ice cream stained and really what is up with t-shirt sweat stains? And that doesn’t count the laundry I forget in the washer for three days that has to be rerun.
Housekeeping? Ugh. Don’t ask. The house is under a constant tornado watch. For every 10 things I clear off a surface, there seem to be 15 taking their place in the same spot by the time I return to it. I can’t seem to get ahead.
The kids? Unpredictable. At times sweet, loving, funny and well behaved. Other times, hitting and pushing and obstinate.
We’re all our own worst critics and how any one hour goes can define how we feel about the job we’re doing as parents. So why is this weighing heavy on my mind all of a sudden?
Peanut’s birthday party.
I put together a “handmade” pirate-themed party for Peanut’s fourth. We did a treasure hunt obstacle course, complete with treasure map that arrived in a glass bottle. I had a great time making it theme-y without making it pricey and the kids had a blast. Peanut’s still bringing it up and I received rave reviews from my friends and family.
And it felt good. Really good. That’s when I realized how rare that kind of feedback is. How long it’s been since I had accomplished something concrete with real results. Something that would have made the spreadsheet:
2010 Goal: Peanut’s 4th Birthday Party.
Create theme and execute on a budget a two hour party with snacks that results in joy, laughter and memories for the birthday boy and 10 to 15 young guests.
Unfortunately, most of the mommy tasks don’t fit so well into the corporate personnel analysis model and I’m left wondering if I’m doing enough, well enough. The fact of the matter is, who would be qualified to judge this job I’m doing anyway?
I know this is a circular problem. There are no answers. There are no yearly reviews to fall back on. There are only the day-to-day challenges. There are only the highs and the lows.
Then there are the raspberries that Peanut blew on Pumpkin’s chunky baby cheeks this evening until they both dissolved into wet, sloppy giggles.
That’s when I remember that I chose this. This life. This job. This this. This stay-at-homeness. My choice. For my family.
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5 thoughts on “Grading Mommy

  1. I have to say I can relate so much!! It's different because we never get a break. Going to work gives you a break and I think would sometimes almost be easier, however, I think about missing out on the firsts and having someone else be around to love and comfort my babies…I just can't do it. So I am with you, I choose to be a working mom 24/7 with no breaks, no days off. And I think it is worth it, even if it is hard at times.

  2. I think the lack of POSITIVE feedback is one of the hardest parts about being a SAHM. You can get caught up in the whining and complaining and it feels like you're doing terribly, even if you're doing great. Alas.

    Yay for the successful birthday party!

  3. I felt like you wrote this blog for me! I was you, that person, those meetings, those goals, that feedback, everything was me a few months ago. Then I too chose this, this this, this stay at homeness and often times I wonder when I'll get that feedback. Am I doing this right? What are my goals for the day? It doesn't matter because most of them, if at all any of them, will get accomplished. It really goes by the hour as you say.

    But I hope years from now, we will get our feedback, we'll get our reward.

    My reward daily is seeing her grow, watching her as she sleeps and a smile creeps up on her face (oddly she smiles in her sleep) and I think, yes, I chose this, this this, this stay at homeness and I'm going to do the best job I know I can!

    Thanks SO much for this blog entry!

  4. It is funny that I am reading your post, this night. After 5 years of being a stay at home mama I question whether now is the time to go back to work. But then my heart isn't in it. I don't crave it, yet I don't seem always happy at this job either. Patience runs very thin with 3 young children to take care of all day.

    I guess the grass is always greener and I chose this. I do feel like I got more accomplished when I was working, but back then I wrote a daily to do list. Maybe I should just do that each day anyway:
    1)feed 3 children breakfast
    2)dress and brush teeth
    3)Give morning snack number 1 and clean up said snack
    4)Give snack number 2 and clean up said snack
    5)Play outside
    6)Make lunch and clean up from lunch
    7)Run one load of laundry
    The list could be endless but I could get a lot crossed off from a list like this.

  5. I hear ya. But at the same time, the only person you have to answer to in this new line of work is you.

    When I was teaching, I saw measurement each day.

    For me, SAHMhood has been a struggle, b/c my oldest has some developmental issues and a severe speech delay.

    As mamas, we beat ourselves up too much. Not everything in this life needs to be quantified, in our new line of work, it's the qualified areas which measure the most…

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