At some point after Michael gets home from work, he ends up asking me what Gabriel and I did that day. Back when Gabriel was a newborn I was often guilty of getting unnecessarily defensive when asked; too often I responded as if secular society were passive-aggressively trying to insinuate that, as a SAHM, I don't "do anything" all day long - rather than answering an innocent question from my loving husband who genuinely was curious what I might have done that day.
In all honesty, it was hard not to get defensive when asked what I did all day long back then because, when you try and break down what mothering actually consists of, it's sometimes hard to come up with a more specific list beyond keeping a little human being clean, fed, nurtured, and alive. During the newborn phase, Gabriel ate every single hour. Whenever he wasn't eating, getting his diaper changed, or being cooed at by yours truly, he was sleeping...in my arms (the only place he would sleep back then during the daytime). I tried really hard to shower every single day, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions about how often I accomplished that goal before Michael returned from work for the evening.
Fast forward a year. Now that my baby is 13.5 months old we actually do a LOT of things while my husband is at work (beyond diaper changes, nursing sessions, and me watching Law & Order SVU on silent with closed captions as Gabriel sleeps for 20 minutes before his next feeding - whew, those early days were a blur). Thankfully, I've caught up on sleep, my hormones have leveled out a bit, and I no longer respond to his innocent query of what I did each day with a defensive, snarky response about doing everything under the sun for, you know, a HUMAN BEING all day long (I'm sure Michael is just as thankful as I am - if not more so...). Still, I am often at a loss when racking my brain to formulate a coherent response to Michael's question each day.
What did we do all day - and how on earth can I possibly paint a portrait that accurately depicts it all?
More often than not, my reply is something along the lines of, "Well, Gabriel woke up at ____ then he ate, we played, we ate lunch, he napped, we played, he ate...and that's about it," followed up by a brief list of whatever chores or errands I managed to check off my to-do list as well.
I'm sure this answer sounds incredibly boring to all my friends that do not have babies because...well, just go back and re-read it. Surely that reply is filled with all the enthusiasm needed to convince them to hop on the parenthood train ASAP...right? Riiight.
On the other hand, I'm sure you other stay-at-home mothers out there can relate. How often do people ask us what we "do all day" - which causes us to feel like we need to list off tangible things...so we scramble to figure out what to say when those same things just seem boring out of context. This is because motherhood - and what we do all day long for our children - cannot be explained in a New York minute. In fact, most of it can never properly be conveyed in words no matter how hard we try.
Earlier today I was playing on the floor with Gabriel. I layed down on my back and he climbed onto my stomach, where he often likes to sit and giggle. I proceeded to play a tickling game with him which elicited squeals of laughter (from my boy...and maybe a bit from me). As soon as he flashed the biggest possible grin amidst fits of giggles, he suddenly threw himself down onto my chest and began sucking his thumb. For the next few minutes we just layed there taking turns giggling as he happily relaxed into my embrace, all the while sucking his thumb. I continued giggling every so often in the hopes of keeping him entertained - wanting him to just stay there in my arms for one more second as I continued holding him and stroking his hair. These are the moments and the things I "do" each day that are virtually impossible to explain to others. There are no photographs of these moments...nor can they possibly be recreated or posed. They don't really rank on most lists of "what I accomplished" each day...but these are the moments that sum up the heart of being a mom (whether you stay at home or are part of the workforce).
As far as answering my husband goes, he understands pretty well that when I say all we did was "eat, play, eat, play, etc." that the full story is far more extensive. He can read between the lines that, in between the tasks and chores, my day was probably filled with moments just like the one described above (on good days - and significantly more tears on the not-quite-as-good days). After all, he is my husband and an involved father so he knows.
But when people without children ask what I do each day, I have no idea what to say. I do my best to string some thoughts together, but it's unquestionably a vocation that is hard for people to wrap their heads around unless they've also lived it. How else can they possibly understand that the hours I spend alone with my baby can simultaneously feel never-ending and manage to pass by in the blink of an eye? How could they begin to know the details of the endless work or the details of the indescribable rewards?
I can only hope that my inadequate responses help others to see that loving and raising a child is undoubtedly a full-time gig - that can and will make you cherish life, the most fleeting of moments, and even the seemingly 'boring' experiences (because any parent will tell you that things like eating lunch, doing laundry, or watching your child play are ANYTHING but boring when they're home with you). It will cause you to embrace sacrifices for the good of another in ways you couldn't have possibly dreamed before experiencing parenthood firsthand.
|There may be too many undocumented moments to count,|
but don't be fooled - we sometimes pose for pics, too.
“A mother's body remembers her babies-the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has it's own entreaties to body and soul.”