I am a stay-at-home mom.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to eschew employment outside the home, believing that it is best for our family if I am at home for my children. I understood that it would mean a certain level of sacrifice, but I felt that these years spent at home would be beneficial for all of us. My mom, who stayed home with us for most of my growing-up years, had a running joke with my dad about stay-at-home moms who lie around and eat bonbons. I wasn't picturing anything quite that luxurious, but it sounded pretty good to me when I quit my job for the at-home life.
On an average school day, I start by driving Peter to preschool (3.9 miles, 15 minutes by the time I deal with the lights, the school zone on Pringle, and the inevitable Buick going 27 mph in the 40 zone on 12th.) I get him settled and head out to the health food store for my fresh fruits and vegetables (1.2 miles, 5 minutes). Then we're off to the regular grocery store for everything else (2 miles, 6 minutes).
I come home, unload the groceries, check e-mail, toss in a load of laundry, and go back out to get Peter (3.9 miles, 13 minutes -- no Buick this time). We hold hands and walk down the hallway, examining the same pictures that capture his attention every week: "Look! Fish! Lots of fish! Look! A train! Peter's train!" "No, it's like Peter's train, but that's not Peter's train." "Look! Fish! Lots of fish!" We meander through the parking lot, marveling at pinecones, the bulldozers at the construction site next door, and the bus driver who looks just like Santa Claus. Eventually we get to the car, and as usual, I need to get gas (.4 mile, 3 minutes -- is that light EVER green when you drive up to it?) at our favorite friendly gas station.
We head back south via the bank (1.5 miles, 6 minutes due to that wretched left turn) and home for lunch (2.5 miles, 7 minutes). We eat our jelly sandwiches and cheese sticks and pickles and grapes, and we have a Hershey kiss if we finish all our food. I change Peter's diaper, set him up with a Veggie Tales video, switch the latest load of laundry, fold it, and start ironing the stack of shirts that has been glaring at me from the ironing board for the last two weeks. I check in with my online parenting forum as Larry the Cucumber issues my two-minute warning: "God made you special, and he loves you very much!"
After taking care of the lunch dishes (I know, I know, I should have done it earlier), I change Peter again and locate my shoes, and if you know me well, you'll understand how that just added five minutes to my routine. I have an extended discussion with him about how many toys he can bring with him, and I bundle him into the minivan. We drive out to Mary's school, which is still technically in Salem but is past downtown, over the river, through the woods, and actually in another county (8.7 miles, 22 minutes, and that's only if everybody doesn't come to a dead stop at the apparently fascinating sight of the blinking yellow lights at the school zone by the Dunkin' Donuts).
I negotiate the mud, the stairs, and fifty screaming grade-schoolers to retrieve Mary and Madison from their classroom. I return to the car with the kids, two carseats, and all the papers and YOU HAVE TO SIGN THIS MOM! and lunch boxes that were inexplicably too much for two budding young gymnasts to carry and still be able to walk at the same time. I am easily talked into buying the fifty-cent hot chocolates at Fastlane Coffee (5.1 miles, 12 minutes) before driving Madison home (3.3 miles, 10 minutes by the time this cowardly driver manages to get across Commercial). Madison is unloaded with much giggling and waving, and we head home (1.2 miles, 4 minutes).
Like millions of other mothers across the country, I get the kids calmed down from the day, change another diaper, sort out the homework from the construction paper crafts in the backpack, toss in a load of towels, and start thinking about what to fix for dinner.
It's a good life. I'm not complaining about it. But would somebody please tell me when it's time to eat bonbons?
My thanks to mapquest.com for the mileage information. I am trying not to be too depressed that I averaged 19.6 mph while driving on roads whose speed limits ranged from 20 to 55.