I Wish I'd Written This...

This has been floating around again - brilliant read about being a mom.

By Carolyn Hax
Wednesday, May 23, 2007



Best friend has child.
Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc.
Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today?
Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy -- not a bad thing at all -- but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

Tacoma, Wash.


Relax and enjoy. You're funny.
Or you're lying about having friends with kids.
Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.
Internet searches?
I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.
So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.
It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.
It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.


  1. Awesome.

    The baby literally kicked me in the face the entire time it took me to read this, which was awhile because the 3 year old felt neglected and came over, whining, and wedged himself between me and my laptop.

    Also...this all happened on the floor (that needs to be vacuumed) because that is where I spend most of my time.

  2. It goes without saying, of course, but I'll say it anyway: this also applies to stay-at-home Dads and working parents as well.

  3. I like this as I stand here in the kitchen while my two kids are actually napping at the SAME time. After taking one kid to school this morning, walking the dog, taking the other kid to the library, feeding him, picking up the first kid, going to the doctor.... Oh wait I must NOT do anything! Oh and don't forget kid not in diaper pooping on the floor this morning... Um really do I have time to even be on here reading this. This is my sanity!

  4. I hope the person who wrote the question has kids one day and someone reminds them how little mom's do. I work outside of the home and marvel at women who are stay at home mom's both with respect and jealousy.


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