Last week in a Gymboree class (free trial, but so much fun) another parent asked me, "So, what do you do?"
I always struggle to find a way to answer this question. Usually, I just say, "I'm just being a mom right now" (all the while, wincing at my poor choice of the word "just" in that sentence).
However, I am, what I would call, a semi-stay-at-home mom. My entire married life, with the exception of 3 months right after the wedding, I have worked 40+ hours per week (including a "job" and school). After Chloe was born, I cut my "work" hours back to 25 hours per week, with no school.
I had always considered myself a career girl. My goal was to run my own business in the field in which I was working, and I had already worked myself into a prime position for that to happen within the next five years. But the Lord began to change my heart. I began to yearn for home and for a life of home-made dinners and hand-made dresses. I saw myself in khaki shorts and flip flops instead of business suits and heels.
Then, in August of last year, everything shifted. A way was provided for me to, in essence, receive a salary for finishing my degree. I was THRILLED! Still, the salary was not quite enough, and so I set out in search of another part-time job. It was at this point, through a series of very fortunate events, that I found myself accepting the position as Children's Pastor in a local church.
Suddenly, I was swept up in a whirlwind of class registration, campus buses, crayon purchases, play dough how-to books, and LOTS of midnight prayers. I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. And when the dust settled, I found myself as a semi-stay-at-home mom.
My "job" still requires about 15 hours of my week. College takes another 15. Still, I am home most days by noon, and most of my work can be done from my living room while my little one is napping.
I simply can't go another sentence further without mentioning my husband who, while finishing his degree in Math Education, has taken on more hours at work to help make ends meet so that I can be home.
He is also a fabulous gardener and compost-maker... which shall be discussed in a future post (look for "Super Hubby").
So here I am, a semi-stay-at-home mom who can whip up a scrumptious baked chicken and make some cutie-puh-tootie dresses for her daughter. (Applause here is appropriate.)
Still, after almost nine months at the semi-stay-home status, my house is not much cleaner; my meals, while increasing in quality, have remained at status quo in frequency; and my life feels just as hectic.
I have to admit to you folks that this does more than frustrate me. It makes me doubt my ability to BE a stay-at-home-er because, frankly, I performed much better as a payroll employee than I am doing as a housewife.
But I also recognize that there is no training for us housewives. No degree. No certification. Nobody who shows up at our door the first couple weeks to show us the ropes.
I can't pick up the phone and call the regional office when my oven won't turn on. I can't tell my boss that I need some on-the-job training when my whites come out all dingy. I can't look in my manual to find the formula I need when I have more dirty dishes than will fit in my dishwasher.
We're thrown into a messy house, with kids, and a husband. We're told to cook and clean. But sometimes the recipes don't look like the picture, and sometimes those darn stains just won't come out.
I don't mean to complain. I am SINCERELY THRILLED to be able to join the ranks of the keepers of the home. I feel SO BLESSED that I was able to be home for my daughter's first steps, and her first word, and her daily smiles. I also feel, more strongly than ever, that I am CALLED to be where I am... and to bloom here.
I just need some direction. Some pointers. Some guidance.
So. Here I am. Asking.
How do you do it? Do you have a schedule? Are you on your feet all day? Or do you have "down time" too? What chores do you ask your hubby to do? Or do you do it all yourself? Are meals planned out in advance? How far in advance?
Any professional homemakers out there? This is your time to shine! I really want to know... what are your secrets? Your tricks of the trade? Your manual(s)?
'Cause I'm in SERIOUS need of some on-the-job training.