Thursday, February 23, 2006

stay-at-home mom

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?

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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.

2 Comments:

At 2/24/2006, Blogger mikee said...

Oh Brenda! Sounds too familiar. Just wait till they are older. Throw another one in the mix. :)
Here is my driving day;
7:30 leave the house with the three kids. Drive 8.4 miles to the high school. Believe it or not this takes 20+ minutes because everyone else in town is using Kuebler to get to the freeway. Drive 5.79 miles to the West Elementary school. Wave to Reva on your way by. Head home 7.8 miles quickly because James will arrive by 9. Take the morning to do all those relaxing chores we stay at home executives have the privilege of doing. Be sure that at 11 the boys are eating their lunch quickly. 11:25 drive the 2.03 miles to pick Jenna up at Pre-school. Give Jenna a hug, buckle her in her carseat, hand her her lunch to eat in the car. Drive the 2.03 miles back home. Have Turner gather his kindergarten stuff he needs for school, you know, the 100 sheets of paper he drew on for his friends and teachers, the 50 things he wants to share with his friends, the 12 books he wants to read in the car after school, and the snack he will die for when he returns. Drive the 1.22 miles to his school. No traffic. Imagine that. Unload all three kids. Walk the entire length of the school to Turners class so that he gets there by 12. Help him with his name tag and writing out his name ticket all while holding Jenna and James hands so they don't run off during the process. Load Jenna and James back in the car. Drive the 1.22 miles home. Put them down for a nap. Welcome Connor and Brady for the day. Lay Brady down for a nap. Get Connor quiet nap time toys to play with. Use the 2 hours to complete the rest of those relaxing home executive chores. At 2:30 wake all children. Load sleeping, slow moving children into the car. Drive the 1.22 miles back to Turners school. This drive that took 4 minutes before now takes 15 because I have to drive through 2 school zones to get there. One school zones is the Middle School. I have come to the conclusion that middle schoolers are more dangerous alone on the road than a 2 year old. Wait in the 10 car line to pick Turner up out front because no parents can enter the school building at this time. He is loaded by 2:50 and we head back out West for the 6.71 mile drive to pick up Weston. This drive in the morning took 17 minutes it now takes 20 because as you know there are so many school zones. On the way back home the drive doesn't seem to be as short as it was on the way out. It could have something to do with the fact that there are now 6 children in the car. Most of them have been there for almost an hour and 5 of them are boys who don't use many words just loud truck noises. Once we are home and unload I "cheerfully" get them a snack and start dinner preparations. At 4:30 James and Jenna get picked up. At 5:30 Connor and Brady get picked up. Usually I leave to pick up Jieun. She could still be at school, Lancaster Mall, Salem Center Mall, or the Transit Mall. It depends on the day. Now after dinner if it is Monday we drive to Keizer for Basketball practice for Weston. Tuesday it is Awana at Salem Heights, Wednesday (no driving) Life Group at our house, Thursday worship team, Friday Celebrate Recovery. Notice there are no Grocery shopping trips, gas station trips or those many trips to Wal-Mart for the forever needed one thing. Those all happen several times a week and it makes me just too excausted to try and work them into this little essay. I want to thank for letting me get this out. I feel much better. I may even be able to skip Celebrate Recovery tonight. :)

 
At 3/29/2006, Anonymous Cheryl Witters said...

At the second paragraph, honestly, I thought...'oh great, here goes a rambling account of all 1440 minutes in ones day (humph)' But you have cleverly provoked thought (how am I spending my minutes each day?), humor, and interest that devours this essay in a few short minutes.

Not that I ever thought my daily activities were so unique, or, even interesting, but you have done well to remind me that I'm not alone and given me reason to laugh each time a pass one of those "apparently facinating blinking yellow lights"! HA!! Great sense of humor, Brenda, keep it up!

 

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