Many years ago, I had a minimum-wage job working for a movie theater. It was a pretty fun job, as those types of things go, but god forbid you ever needed to miss a day of work. We got paid shit, we were treated like shit, but the way the management reacted if you called in sick made it seem like our jobs were as mission-critical as rocket scientists who were also firefighters on their way to a burning orphanage while carrying human organs packed in ice.

That’s sort of how I feel these days. Being at home all day often makes me feel like the most useless waste of food on the planet — my contributions to the world are nearly nil, and everything I do is cyclical. Everything has to be repeated over and over and over and over: nothing stays clean, article deadlines never stop coming, the laundry just keep re-generating itself like the blobby metal dude in Terminator 2.

And yet it’s goddamned near impossible for me to leave. I received an offer to travel out of town for a couple days — just a fun-sounding blogger event, something that sounded both interesting and like a nice break from business as usual — and the logistics involved in trying to make this happen have been nearly insurmountable. Who would pick Riley up from the bus stop? Who would take Dylan to preschool? Who would watch Dylan on his non-preschool day? The daily tasks that seem both mind-numbing and hugely unappreciated literally REQUIRE MY PRESENCE. If I’m not here, it’s a clusterfuck of epic proportions, trying to call in favors and beg for family help and work around schedules and feeling enormously guilty and like a massive pain in everyone’s ass.

Since my job is so very important, apparently, why then don’t I feel more of a sense of accomplishment each day? Or, say, ANY SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT AT ALL.

Comments

81 Responses to “Boulders and hills”

  1. Stephanie on October 8th, 2012 2:24 pm

    Ohmygod. This is the EXACT conversation I’ve been having with half of my friends. We’ve been at home, now our kids are (mostly) at school all day, and yet if I’d headed back to work, today would have marked the fourth time I’d have had to call in to work because of some child-related issue/illness since early September. The freelance work I do is mostly in the evenings, but God forbid it be easy to get my own husband to guarantee he’ll be home from work on time so I can go. And finding an after-school sitter is near-impossible, given that every single 12-18-year-old girl around here is in multiple after-school activities.

    I get this so very, very much.

  2. Randy on October 8th, 2012 2:27 pm

    Our society is really screwed up. Mothers are quite literally the vital life support of viability as a nation. Their duties go unpaid, largely (IMO) because no one could ever afford their services, not with the same quality or passion any way.

    You are indispensable and your rewards aren’t monetary. Of course, things of true value can’t be bought or sold.

  3. Mariya on October 8th, 2012 2:27 pm

    I empathize with you completely and I only have ONE child at this point. I wish I had something better to say than, “I totally get where you’re coming from” but that’s all I’ve got :)

  4. Sande on October 8th, 2012 2:30 pm

    I just need to say as I read your blog lately the pink lipstick on the side always makes me do a double take because I think it is a big pointy shaky thing!

  5. Sheryl on October 8th, 2012 2:38 pm

    My kid is 15, and I’d like to tell you that it gets easier, but then I’d be a liar. I’m a WOH single mom; I’m not ready to have her stay alone when I go out of town. My mom should be my go-to person (lives close by, healthy, retired), but she about loses her cookies when I ask. My girl knows when and where she needs to be places; she just really needs someone to drive her, sleep in the same house with her, and look her in the eye and say “bullshit” when she says there’s no homework. This is too much for my otherwise reasonably capable mother. And it’s not because my kid is a jerk, because for a 15 year old, she’s pretty cool.

    On the other hand, if my mom needs something, she doesn’t hesitate to call me for assistance. My sister (married, childless), on the other hand, gets calls when my mom needs someone to play golf with.

    So, somehow, what I do as a parent is so complicated it cannot be done by someone else, but I can drop it all to replace a light fixture or feed the cats while my mom goes on a trip. Huh.

  6. Megan @ Mama Bub on October 8th, 2012 2:41 pm

    Holy shit, this is my life exactly. I’m going out of town for a weekend, and the plans for Friday were so stress inducing that I almost canceled the entire thing. Thinking about it right now is making me sweaty. And YET, it’s laundry, carpool and peanut butter and jelly. It’s a mess that can’t be contained. And it’s costing me a freaking fortune to outsource it for the day.

  7. Heidi on October 8th, 2012 2:45 pm

    Hear! Hear!

  8. June on October 8th, 2012 2:47 pm

    I have that regenerating laundry-monster thing going on, too.

    Not sure if you just wanted to vent or if you’re looking for potential solutions, but in my area, there are drop-in day cares, and if you look on sites like care.com or sittercity.com (NAYY), you might find someone who is prescreened and decent (check referrals) who is available for that kind of random thing. Of course, these services all cost money, but if you don’t have friends/family to help, that’s what it’ll take.

    You should be able to leave once in a while without engaging in a clusterfuck or feeling guilt. Parenting is tough, everyone needs a break occasionally. Sorry that it feels unrewarding… I’m in the trenches with you (with a 4 y-o and 2-yo twins), wondering when is it ever going to get just a tiny bit easier.

  9. Katharine on October 8th, 2012 2:47 pm

    What Randy said.

    Read Tillie Olsen. Read about her, too. She was a writer who did work during and about the Depression, and she talks elliptically and brilliantly about the fact that the ten thousand washed dishes keep you from feeling like a real person and it’s unfair. She doesn’t have a solution, either – there’s an enormous swath of her life, decades, in which she did no writing work while she was raising children – but boy, will it make you feel understood.

  10. Melissa Anderson on October 8th, 2012 2:52 pm

    Thank. I just don’t consider ever going anywhere, until one of my kids can drive and cook, then I assume they won’t all die if I’m gone. Right now, me leaving is guaranteed madness.

  11. Nicole on October 8th, 2012 3:08 pm

    Ah man, totally I feel ya. My husband is a chef and works nights, so we had reverse the rotation of the earth just so I could attend a dinner function (for work!) on a Tuesday night. The only parents who don’t have these problems are those lucky bastards with live-in nannies or retired, willing grandparents who live less than 30 miles away.

  12. Kim on October 8th, 2012 3:42 pm

    Wait a minute, are you me? That sounds so familiar. Being an ahem, domestic engineer (I actually flinch when “homemaker” is the option I am given on forms), is a thankless but overwhelming job.

  13. Jennifer on October 8th, 2012 3:44 pm

    To echo the other commenters: YES. So much yes. We have family nearby but they all are non-retired so during the day, it’s all up to me. Any diversion from that routine is a HUGE hassle and just not even worth it sometimes. We’re so important! Yet we have to clean up poop! Doesn’t exactly make sense. Heh.

  14. Kim on October 8th, 2012 3:51 pm

    And you know what conversation you should not have in your head? The one about how many years of education and professional experience is going unused while staying at home with the progeny. Because that conversation sucks.

  15. Lauren on October 8th, 2012 4:01 pm

    Just when I start thinking having kids sounds good, I read things like this. Not to say you shouldn’t have written it or anything of the sort.

    It just scares me a lot. If I do have kids though, I’ll be happier to know I entered into it with my eyes wide open.

  16. Vanessa on October 8th, 2012 4:11 pm

    Fuuuccckkk… Yes. That. I’m home all day with a 2 year old and a 6 month old. I was at Anthropologie today pondering part time seasonal work to keep from losing my mind. When I brought it up to my husband he said, “that would be a disaster. What would we do with the kids?”. He’s right, but it’s still lame…

  17. shriek house on October 8th, 2012 4:30 pm

    Ditto, ditto, ditto, effing DITTO. And in 6 months I’ll have a parasite stuck to my boob, just to ensure I NEVER get out. It’s like the Hotel California. For S/WAHMs.

  18. Heather on October 8th, 2012 4:37 pm

    Sing it, Sister!

  19. Deb on October 8th, 2012 4:38 pm

    EXACTLY.

    What you need to do, see, is lower your standards. Like for example, I actually took a shower today. I’ve been riding that high all day, man.

  20. mlegreenberg on October 8th, 2012 5:17 pm

    I think it is the cyclical nature that makes it feel like we have not accomplished anything…because it keeps recurring it is hard to quantify what we have done. I never see the bottom of the laundry basket or an empty sink for more than a moment when it fills back up and seems like I never finished it. The only way I can get even a little sense of accomplishment is to make a list then mark it off as I go and then look at it at the end of the day. But often I feel like I waste too much time tending the list when I could just be DOING whatever is on it. It is good to get reminders that you ARE necessary sometimes though.

  21. tanya on October 8th, 2012 5:57 pm

    It must be an October thing, because I’ve been feeling a general sense of purposelessness as well of late. I feel like my contribution to the world is so minimal and yet there is this cycle that I am part of that is inescapable – primarily of the rent/food/etc. variety. And while I actually help people feel better pretty much every day, it somehow feels unimportant, empty. So I feel you – I don’t know if it helps, but I feel you.

  22. Danell on October 8th, 2012 6:01 pm

    Yeah, the lipstick…it’s…distracting. Heh.

  23. Linda on October 8th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Lipstick updated with non-peen-looking image for the dirty birds in the audience. :)

  24. Em on October 8th, 2012 6:47 pm

    How often I have passed on a 12 hour shift so I can be somewhere for 15 minutes. But they are an important 15 minutes and I’m glad I was there. Still, ouch. At least my employer understands what is important. Right.

    If I had the words, I could have written exactly what you wrote but all I can do is agree. Even with so many going through exactly the same thing, it gets kind of lonely, doesn’t it?

  25. Meg on October 8th, 2012 8:11 pm

    Deb’s comment about the shower and lower expectations made me laugh at loud!

  26. Meg on October 8th, 2012 8:12 pm

    * Laugh out loud. Not at.

  27. Jennifer on October 8th, 2012 8:50 pm

    Hey, now that you’re off in your new land, and in a town with a University, have you started thinking about classes again? Maybe a night class a couple times a week when JB can take the boys? That would be a distraction and something to accomplish? I think you were once working on those math classes etc. toward a goal… so is now the time to get back on the horse? Remember: dreams never die.

  28. Sundry on October 8th, 2012 9:04 pm

    Jennifer: for a variety of reasons, that dream has been shelved. That’s probably a post on its own, but…well, yeah.

  29. Angella on October 8th, 2012 10:08 pm

    Aw, Linda. We no family help here, whatsoever, and while Matthew and I are a great team, a little help would be nice, too.

    xo

  30. Jennifer on October 8th, 2012 10:30 pm

    Maybe shelved temporarily, but still on the shelf. Even if on the back of the shelf, still up there. You can dust it off and clear other stuff out of the way and get to it in the future. You’ve conquered adversity and made your dreams happen before. You’ll get past the latest roadblock.

  31. Kathie on October 8th, 2012 11:53 pm

    Yes, yes and yes again. I work from home, doing the bookkeeping and admin for my husband’s IT firm, and I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old. And it is sad, because I just feel like it is all such a waste sometimes, you know. I have no family here, and my husband works such long hours that the buck always stops with me. And it’s made more difficult because I feel ungrateful, and know that so many people would love to be in my situation, where a sick kid isn’t a disaster because I’m at home anyway, where I have flexible hours so that I am always there for every Kindergarten event etc, so I feel like a spoiled brat for wanting more from life. But I do. So thanks for writing this, because I now at least feel like you, and the other commenters have at least validated my frustration, and made me feel less alone.

  32. Meike on October 9th, 2012 3:39 am

    Gathering from all the comments, apparently this is a very common thing to experience for SAHMs! I feel the exact same way. I actually took up sowing just to have that feeling of accomplishment, some finished product to look at now and then. It’s really kind of pathetic in its 1950s-housewifey way, but so what. Makes me happy.

  33. Vanessa on October 9th, 2012 3:57 am

    …”re-generating itself like the blobby metal dude in Terminator 2″… BEST. ANALOGY. EVER!

    I always called laundry my personal hamster wheel. But I like the blobby metal dude analogy better!

  34. Vanessa on October 9th, 2012 4:03 am

    I forgot to add, it totally chaps my butt that the hubby doesn’t have to worry about any of this either. Because I am here. Ever solid, dependable, freelancing WAHM, me. I often have a little daydream about landing a gig requiring a short plane flight, a hotel stay and insane loads of money…however the fantasy part is less about the money, and more about me responding to my hubby’s question of “Who is going to look after the kids?” with a hair-flicking-backward-glance-looking-high-heel-clacking-suitcase-loading-into-limo moment and my response of, “Well honey, you’re just going to have to sort it out.” Epic. Hands up, who enjoyed that just as much as I just did?

  35. jonniker on October 9th, 2012 6:20 am

    You are just singing my tune, Linda. I contribute via freelancing, yes, but most of my job is exactly as you describe. Laundry, bills, pick-up, drop-off, dishes, making sure we don’t fall into UTTER RUBBLE, etc.

    This morning’s big challenge is finding a red shirt for color theme day at preschool, FFS. You know? And yet. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, and it would be all this stupid little stuff just piling up and becoming insurmountable. But it all feels so unimportant at the time.

    I needed to read this. Thanks, Linda.

  36. Deanna on October 9th, 2012 6:21 am

    Have you ever texted your hubs a photo of the clean sink/kitchen? I do that- and grit my teeth at his off the cuff response asking how long I think it will stay that way.

  37. Sarah on October 9th, 2012 6:41 am

    yup. I work out of the house full time, with 2 part time jobs (one night each) so can’t relate entirely, but I feel like you need as many high-fives as you can get.

  38. Ali on October 9th, 2012 7:45 am

    Oh my. Do I ever hear you. The intangible benefits of being here for my daughter as a WAHM are awesome. But you know what?

    Somtimes, I just want a fucking gold star for cleaning the umpteenth dish, the trillionth pile of laundry and the funk that accumulates in the corners because no one else in the house gives a crap about it.

    I want a thumbs-up for planning, scheduling, and driving to all the doctor, dentist, and after-school appointments, while still managing to generate a meager salary.

    I’d like a medal for managing the household funds, creating budgets, and making sure shit is paid on-time, every time.

    The intangibles are great, for sure. But damn, man–sometimes a cold beer and a paycheck for working so hard sounds pretty good, too.

    High-fives all around for everyone who rocks taking care of their kids, house, spouse and job. Rock on.

  39. Michelle on October 9th, 2012 8:31 am

    Yes. Thank you. Everything you just said and more. WAHM moms straddle this uncomfortable existence between managing the same but different stresses of both the SAHM and the “working” mom (I hate that phrase, by the way, because it somehow implies that the moms who are not working in offices or away from home or doing something other than taking care of house, kids, life are not “working” but I don’t have a clever acronym for those kinds of moms – WAFHMs?) I started working from a home office before we even thought about having kids (well, really, just kid) but somehow, now it feels more rut-ish. Teeball on Tuesday, Dance on Friday, every night make dinner, do dishes, do laundry, work, work, work, write, write, write, and then feel guilty if I try to carve out just a little time to do my own thing – but with every opportunity I turn down because of logistics, I try to remember that this was the life I chose and that, someday, my kid will be grown up and things may get easier. Until then, I guess it’s just about hanging on and hanging in there.

  40. Erica on October 9th, 2012 8:38 am

    Omg. You hit the nail on the head. My kids are grown so I am working again, but I feel ya. Was in Starbucks the other morning on the way to the office where I overheard a dad talking to his 4 preschool age charges: ‘Guys, I’m really proud of us all. We started as 5 and we are still all here…no blood, no serious illness. We look tired but none of you looks underfed…lets see if we can keep it together today until mom’s plane lands…’ Moms do the hardest job in the world….

  41. Maggie on October 9th, 2012 8:47 am

    The other day I was talking to my 3 YO daughter and saying something like “when you grow up and have kids, you will be a mommy.” Her response: “I don’t want to be a mommy, I want to be a daddy.” My thought: Don’t we all? Smart girl.

    My husband and I both work FT outside the home and he is helpful, but I am still the one doing the laundry, making dinner most nights, helping with homework, and staying on top of anything even remotely out of the ordinary (school days off, special clothing, volunteering etc). Every random school day off or sick day we get to play my favorite game: whose work is more important/busy/pressing today.

    Sometimes it feels like no matter what situation we are in as moms, we get the housekeeping/organizing/kid wrangling shaft.

  42. Erin on October 9th, 2012 8:48 am

    Can I just recommend SitterCity.com? Seriously, I don’t know why I didn’t use it years ago. I posted one job (our favorite sitter just moved and my husband travels a ton), and got FIFTY applicants. Most of whom seemed like lovely people. Get the coupon for 50% off, and it’ll cost you $17 for a month. Call in the troops, lady! Build an army to support you! (No, I am not affiliated with them in any way, BTW.)

    Also, this is the first year both of my kids are in all-day elementary, and it is LIFE-ALTERING.

  43. Amelia on October 9th, 2012 9:20 am

    Every day I look at my family of boys and think, “Holy GOD, you want food again? You wore more clothes that I have to WASH? WHY are you going outside to play and then inside to go to the bathroom so I have to vacuum AGAIN? Will it NEVER STOP?”

  44. Jessi on October 9th, 2012 9:33 am

    My husband stays at home with our 3-year-old and works a few hours each day. He doesn’t think about dinner or laundry or anything when he’s at home. Apparently that’s my job the second I walk in from my 10 hour day. It never stops for women no matter what position we’re in.

  45. Em on October 9th, 2012 9:48 am

    I so hear you…I was just thinking some of the same things myself. I just try to tell myself that someday my daughter will appreciate all I do for her, even though she might not. So yeah, not much help, really.

    It does help to know that I am not alone, though! Also, I don’t know if this helps, but I like reading your daily columns on the Stir. They always brighten my day. So that is something of value, however small! :)

  46. Andrea on October 9th, 2012 9:58 am

    I so get this. I WOH 3 days/week, 12 hour shifts. So I do have a full time job. But I also do 99% of the housework, laundry, dishes, etc. One of my biggest aggravations is working a 12 hour shift (RN) and coming home to a sinkful of dishes and trash and no clean clothes for school tomorrow. WTH? Conversely, there is no better foreplay than coming home to a spotless kitchen and “I’ll get up with him, you stay in bed.” This happens like once in a blue moon, but I’ll take it!

  47. Cara on October 9th, 2012 10:05 am

    How interesting to read this on the day before I plan to turn in my notice to the soul-sucking marketing job I’ve had for the past 5 years and go home to do the part-time freelance work that I love (sound familiar?).

    One of the reasons I’m going home is so that I can get a handle on the laundry and the house and the meals which have been completely neglected for years since my husband has been in school full time and now is working full time again. Something has to give and I hate my job anyway, so I’m making the leap! Regardless if anyone else appreciates the clean house, *I* will appreciate it!

  48. chris on October 9th, 2012 10:14 am

    I was also going to suggest care.com and sittercity. I’m a nanny and I’m on both. (i also happen to live in eugene! Been reading for years and years. :) anyway, I am also a mama and I’m currently working as a contactor 3 days from home and nanny the other two. My hubs works at a school and I have always felt like childcare and working and keeping up the house is just my responsibility. It sucks. There’s just nothing else to say about it. :( But if you are looking to hire some help, there are lots of people with flexible schedules like myself out there.

  49. anne on October 9th, 2012 10:22 am

    You actually don’t have to be a mom to feel this way. Sometimes your pets are enough to do this to you! I feel for you, and I hope you can get away.

  50. Karen on October 9th, 2012 10:52 am

    I work full time and took my middle daughter (16yo) on a college visit Sunday and Monday. My oldest is away at college. Why is it soooo wrong that I was SHOCKED to come home to no dishes? I can honestly say this was the first time it happened! I don’t know if the 14yo or husband was the one who figured out how to open the dishwasher! I agree though to your point…just being away Sunday and Monday was monumental. I had to change soccer carpool because I couldn’t expect him to pick up just one other 14yo and take them to practice! I had a huge list of things to do just for a two day trip. But he travels 6-10 days a month and he doesn’t have any of that pressure. He just comes home, dumps his suitcase in the laundry room, and all is back to normal.

  51. Karen on October 9th, 2012 11:02 am

    Crap, and I meant to say…maybe eventually you can find a community college student (is there one near you) or a college-aged student who isn’t at school who would help out? One of my older daughter’s friends can’t afford to go away to school, so she goes to the nearby cc, and loves kids and this would be right up her alley (if we weren’t 1/2 a continent apart). She is our go-to pet sitter and spend the night with our younger two when we are both gone for the night. She makes a little cash, and gets out of her house for the night. She is young enough that my two enjoy being around her and don’t feel like they are being “baby-sat”. Win win!

  52. Carrie (in MN) on October 9th, 2012 11:27 am

    Have you read the Atlantic Montly article about why women still can’t have it all?

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-cant-have-it-all/309020/#.UHBHJHDZIxY.mailto

    It was very thought-provoking. I’m older than you, closer to the age of the author (although not even in the same realm as her career-wise, omg). Anyway, like her I thought I could have it all if I: 1) was committed enough; 2) married the right person who would take on a full 50%; 3) timed it right. But here I sit – approaching 50 with three teenagers, taking a time out from my career to be in a consulting role instead of the in-the-middle-of-things big job I would have thought I’d have at this point.

    And it’s because a) our kids need us, need someone to be there, even when they are teenagers!; b) someone has to do these god damn boring cyclical tasks (you tweeted last week about which one I’d pay someone to do – acquire food and feed my kids, please! I’m so tired of it!). Like you, I have a husband who is working flat out as hard as he can. And when I was WOTH, he did fully his 50% at home too. But if something went wrong – if a kid couldn’t be picked up on time, or was going to be home alone after dinner with no one to ask if their homework was done…he shrugged and didn’t worry about it. I worried about it. So yeah, I here you and I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. But! You’re not alone – there are millions of us out here folding our laundry, cooking a pot roast (took me till noon to pull that off); and waiting for that when that next 15 minutes come up when they need me.

  53. Carrie (in MN) on October 9th, 2012 11:28 am

    I wrote a book in your comments…sorry!

  54. Olivia on October 9th, 2012 11:54 am

    I’m so feeling this. I rarely complain because my spouse does a lot. He cooks half the dinners, washes dishes in the sink and does a lot of the work with our kids when he is home. But, apparently I’m the only one who can run the dishwasher, vacuum, take out the trash, do laundry…My biggest complaint lately is that he stays up so late on the weekends. Then he sleeps in on and I’m left taking care of the kids starting at 6:30 in the morning. I’m on my own with them all week, it would be nice if I could sleep in just once. And I get really mad when it’s going on 9 am and I haven’t been able to make breakfast because he’s snoring away and not helping.

  55. Carmen on October 9th, 2012 12:15 pm

    Ditto for me, too. When we’re living in Vancouver, we have no family close by and my husband’s a prof at the university, so he has evening events quite often. I get so cranky that he just assumes I’ll be home with the kids – he doesn’t even ask, just tells me the morning of the event. One day I’ll stab him with my cereal spoon, I swear. I got away for a few days at the end of June, but yes, you’d think that the world was ending, trying to figure out people’s schedules.

    Right now, we’re on sabbatical in Europe, which, sounds rough, I know. But I’m homeschooling my Gr. 1 son, and trying to keep my preschooler occupied at the same time. It’s just a brutal slog from morning to night and I feel completely unappreciated. I kept my job and am working remotely as well, (~75% time) so I clean, cook & school all day, then after the kids are in bed I start my work day. So I’m feeling a bit stressed.

  56. Lisa on October 9th, 2012 12:21 pm

    Yes, yes and yes to pretty much everything everyone has said already. At different times during the last 2 years I’ve been home full time, working part time outside the home and working full time outside the home. I can fully attest to the fact that it’s all hard!

    The single best thing I did was to join a local moms’ club (I joined my local chapter of MOMS Club International, but there are lots out there). The support of these other moms has been invaluable to me and at times is the only thing that helps me keep my sanity (well, that and reading this blog!).

    Because of them, I now have a list of babysitters on hand, and a group of moms who are also willing to help out in a pinch. This alone has saved me so much stress. I also find out all sorts of interesting things important to being a mom (local schools, businesses, classes, consignment sales, etc.)

    And best of all, are the stories they share that let me know it’s not just me – this really is hard, and no one does it perfectly.

    I really recommend getting involved in a local moms’ group – it really can make a huge difference!!!

  57. sooboo on October 9th, 2012 1:55 pm

    Someone else already pointed this out up there somewhere, but you don’t need kids to feel this way. I freelance at home, have pets and a husband and I feel overburdened and under-appreciated all the time! This Susie Homemaker crap sucks!

  58. Lisa S. on October 9th, 2012 3:07 pm

    Refusing to do more than my husband around the house is how we ended up with a housekeeper, and I cannot recommend that option highly enough. I have often taken on extra freelance work to pay for her. Totally worth it.

    And for every domestic duty I assume (running the social calendar, keeping paperwork in order), that’s one more I hand off to my partner. He’s cool with it.

    I have found that in terms of assuming homekeeping responsibilities, I am actually my own worst enemy here, because I am always stumbling over these internalized expectations that I “should” be handling A, B, C, D, E & F instead of handing off B, D & E to someone else without apology.

    That said, there is no doubt I’m the primary parent, i.e. the one who handles childcare, the one who is the first to take off work when she’s sick, the one who handles activities, keeping her clothed and fed, keeping track of milestones, taking her to doctor’s appointments, going to playdates, getting up in the middle of the night, etc. My husband is super hands-on, but we both felt that it would be easier on us as a family if one person was the “The Buck Stops Here” person on All Things Kid, and that’s me. For now. I keep telling him we’ll flip roles when she’s a teenager.

  59. Laura on October 9th, 2012 3:29 pm

    I’m so glad I read the comments to this post and learned about Tillie Olsen. I’d never heard of her before and look at this dedication to her book “Silences” “For our silenced people, century after century their beings consumed in the hard, everyday essential work of maintaining human life. Their art, which still they made–as their other contributions–anonymous; refused respect, recognition; lost.”
    I’m taping that up on my refrigerator. Amazing and thought provoking post, Linda. Thank you.

  60. Clueless But Hopeful Mama on October 9th, 2012 4:28 pm

    OH MY HELL YES. What we do seems totally invisible EXCEPT WHEN WE DON’T DO IT.

    I… better stop. I feel a caps lock rant coming on.

  61. sara on October 9th, 2012 5:51 pm

    I wish i was at home and feeling like this.. Currently i commute an hr to and from work and i STILL feel like this! Lol I feel like i spend all this time going to a job i hate, get paid and pay the bills, and literally have enough left over for gas for the week. Wtf is that?! Oh and i also have the laundry and sink full of dishes that never ever go away. And i hate to even say it, but my husband is zero help. Im currently running a social experiment where i put all the dishes that my daughter and i use straight in the dishwasher and see where his end up.. Sink!! Every. Fucking. Time! It takes more time and energy to nag him into doing something than it takes to just do it myself, sigh.

    Sorry for the rant. :)

  62. Nancy on October 9th, 2012 6:03 pm

    Based on your tweet from earlier, I’d have to guess you and JB aren’t quite on the same page, financially? It isn’t uncommon for one spouse to take on all the responsibility for paying the bills and/or making more money. But what doesn’t work is to act like one person is right and the other is wrong.

    My own assvice is to get thee to a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) class – 9 quick weekly sessions that will turn your world around. Or you can listen to his podcast and read his Total Money Makeover book – that’s all it took for me to suddenly start to a) understand and b) care about finances. Granted, I got hooked by his straight-forward, no-nonsense approach to finances before DH and I got married – but it makes no difference.

    The #1 cause of divorce in this country is money fights over money problems. If you aren’t on the same page, it’s easy to fight. Truly, I suggest the TMMO book, even from the library. You can tailor it to fit your shared preferences and needs, but to approach the finances – from the monthly planning side to the saving side, truly can make a big and positive impact.

    Because you work from home does not make your vote in your finances any more or less valuable than JB’s. Neither of you are wrong – but you will find a new sense of agreement and peace if you agree on the money side of things.

    And, FWIW, what you do DOES matter. Whether it’s raising your kids, keeping your home, running the 1000 errands you do every week or writing – you keep your world revolving and should be appreciated for it. I know I count on coming to your blog every few days to read a new post, see some pictures and admire the heck out of what an awesome lady/mom/wife/writer/photographer you are. Thank you for being you and for sharing your life here!

  63. willikat on October 9th, 2012 6:19 pm

    On your behalf: ARGHGHGH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!! *Shakes fist at sky*

    I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I’m already wondering how to fight through this feeling of having to work, of being sadly shorted on maternity leave, of how I am going to juggle it all and be a mom and feel personally fulfilled and wanting to maybe stay home but also sort of loving my job and also totally needing the income, etc. etc. etc.

    Your Terminator 2 analogy was the best ever. Some things in life are just like that motherfucker.

    Sorry I have no advice. Just know I HEAR you.

  64. Michelle on October 9th, 2012 8:16 pm

    Love Deb’s comments. That’s how I get through my days, lowering my expectations and standards and hoping at the end of it I feel like I accomplished a small something.

    Damn frustrating. Looking forward to when both kids are in school and I can have some time to myself! Even then, I know it will be eaten up with minutae, laundry, house crap, etc.

    Good luck! Hang in there!

  65. G on October 9th, 2012 8:37 pm

    Hang in there, Mamas! It’s a big job you are all doing and while it often seems thankless, we all know it is REALLY important to put in the time with our kids. This phase of your life will not last forever. Your time spent with the little kids will pay off in better prepared young adults. This 60 something grandma sends you all strokes for the big job you are doing. It goes fast. Enjoy!

  66. Frannie on October 9th, 2012 11:08 pm

    Well..I stayed home with the kids (technically I was in school for most of that-and pregnant twice in two years.) and my husband left me for his just divorced coworker. I was basically forced out of my home (have emails showing they both were trying to find places for me and the kids to move into) into something completely different, and marginal support. I took a break from my career to help raise our children and was left for someone who works with him. Maybe I’m oversharing..There is a section of my life now I have to file under manipulation/crossed boundaries.
    I’m raising two sons under age three, and yes I could say I really did feel like the babysitter, and not appreciated. Co-parenting and parenting are so alien to another, taking parenting onto another level of epic pre-divorce proportions. And damn. It is hard trying to maintain the normalcy, start over, deal with lawyers and co-parent. My esteem suffered over time and I found myself wondering why am I feeling this way and all the subtle things.
    Now I have to just set it aside and place the kids ahead of all of that.

    But. I found strength in my children and giving myself a well-deserved break, even if it’s small.
    I feel a little better when another older mother comes to my aid, helps and says, “I know”.
    I reached out. If most of my friends were getting married or I didn’t feel would relate then I reached out to others and I found such a supportive network.

    I want to tell you, you will look back on these days the way you do when you think about when they were small and everything was so difficult. You will remember all you have done and do not forget.
    That is what I tell myself. Don’t sell yourself short.
    Thank you for sharing.

  67. Alyson on October 10th, 2012 12:18 am

    Don’t worry about feeling bored with this part of parenting……Worry when you start to think that THIS is the most important job you have, and begin waxing lyrical about how “beautiful” it is to wait for Riley at the bus stop.

  68. Christine on October 10th, 2012 5:31 am

    This post is timed so well for me! Holy crap I know how you feel.

    I stay at home with 2 girls (8 and 5 years old) and the GD puppy (which, what the eff was I thinking when I said yes to that?). My husband busts his butt 6 days a week at a very physical, dangerous job (he is an electrician for the D.O.T.) and does not so much as put his dish in the sink after dinner. Which is fine – this is how we planned it to go when we thought about having kids. BUT! I feel frustrated, overwhelmed and underappreciated sometimes yet I don’t complain because he works hard. I thought things might be easier when both kids were in school full time but with the addition of the puppy it has not – and that is my fault because I should have said NO! I know it will sort itself out soon enough and I am sorry to be a downer on your comments page. I am in a bad head place today…thanks for listening.

  69. SS+1 on October 10th, 2012 8:50 am

    Classic case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Putting things into perspective (from what you’ve shared in your fabulous corner of the world wide webz), you’re doing a FANTASTIC job at parenting two sweet and wonderful little boys. Keep up the great work. If the sitch needs to be adjusted, it will happen in good time.

    Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

  70. Sirena on October 10th, 2012 10:47 am

    What’s really depressing is not just that you feel this way, but on top of that 70+ responses plus anecdotal data of this being a woman’s lot in life dating back to – oh yes, the dawn of time. It is a lot to take and true, never ever acknowledged or valued in a way that conveys a sense of worth or accomplishment due to the pure transactional nature of each task – checking a box – until you try to be absent for just one day, then you’re Dick Cheney-level critically important all of a sudden. I hope it helps to know that you are not alone, although it also makes me a little sadder to know that no matter how awesome the husband, so many women in the same boat.

  71. Sarah on October 10th, 2012 11:07 am

    Oh God I agree a thousand times. I am currently on maternity leave with child number two and thinking really hard about not returning to work because it’s just….impossible, if I’m not home. I actually hated myself while trying to work full-time with one toddler. I was disorganized and bad at my job and bad at being a mom and I felt mad every single day. And yet when I look into an endless future of just mom-ing every day I feel sort of- UGH about it. Because there is NO OFF SWITCH.

    My husband got a bit huffy with me this morning when I asked if he could accompany our son to his toddler gym class. He worked late last night and he was tired and kind of didn’t feel like going….I wanted to punch him in the nose. I don’t FEEL like doing 90% of the stuff I do during the day, but if I don’t do it IT WON’T GET DONE. Where is my opportunity to opt out of doing certain things??

  72. Sharon on October 10th, 2012 3:16 pm

    Hey, Linda: thanks for posting, as always. I thought of you yesterday, as I was grabbing some CD that I was completely sick of, and I realized that you haven’t posted any of what you’re listening to lately, and I NEED it! So, you know, to add to your “to do list”… music us, soon, mmmkay?

  73. Kari on October 10th, 2012 3:39 pm

    We don’t have kids, but will soon. This division and allocation is something I think about so much. Observing our dynamic now, how sometimes I feel like I am taking on 75% of the household shit instead of 50%, and why 50-50 just isn’t a realistic model for us. I don’t know what it is, but I am actively thinking about it.

    Your post reminded of a night, about two years ago, when I was at my girl friend’s house. She is married, with two young kids, and is the primary, stay-at-home caregiver and manager of the house. Her husband works full-time and then some to support the family. Suffice to say, both of them work really hard to keep their family afloat and thriving.

    I was there right at the time her husband got home. My friend had been struggling with some depression and anxiety issues (which was part of the reason I was there), and when her husband walked in, you could just see the relief in her eyes. Help had arrived. And I felt her relief.

    And then I watched her husband ease down into the sofa, slowly untying his tie and sliding off his shoes. I could see the exhaustion on his face, too, and how, more than anything, he was hoping for maybe 30 minutes of peace and quiet after work before assuming the daddy role.

    I understood something in that moment that I don’t think I ever understood before. Both of them needed a break, both of them needed a little “me” time, and both of them felt overworked and entitled to a little reprieve.

    And neither of them was incorrect.

  74. Kris on October 10th, 2012 5:16 pm

    At least you have freelance. I’ve started crafting to keep my sanity. FUCKING CRAFTING!!!!! GAH!!!!!!!!!

    That is NOT me or who I want to be or what I want to be doing; yet I always put the needs/wants of everyone else first. It’s exhausting and claustrophobia-inducing, to feel stuck and worthless and useless and Jeezus Chrisesakes, I’ma gonna shut up now.

    Anyway, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  75. Taryn on October 10th, 2012 5:37 pm

    From what I’ve heard, being a mom is a thankless task. But at least you’re not required to ask if anyone wants “buttery” on anything. ;)

  76. s. on October 10th, 2012 6:07 pm

    My friend is getting a Master’s degree in marriage and family counselling, and because the nature of her future work is by its nature so UNFINISHED, counselling is always a work-in-progress, and things are never really “done” in that clap-your-hands-together-and-walk-away-from-it way, that her professors suggest that they always make sure they have things in their personal lives that are stand-alone PROJECTS, that have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so that they have tangible sense of accomplishment.

    That was wordy (and probably not even clear despite all the words I used), but I feel like the same idea can apply to parenting.

  77. amber on October 10th, 2012 11:35 pm

    Linda,
    I have read and reread this blog entry (http://mamalooma.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/something-that-lasts/) many time when I’ve felt the way you are describing. If you get a chance to read it, make sure to read the link as well. Perhaps it resonates with me because I like to can and preserve (like the blogger) but I think we all need what she’s talking about.

  78. Trina on October 11th, 2012 7:26 am

    I am so there with you. Have you read this blog, she is amazing and gives me a fresh perspective on this parenting gig.

    http://rachelmariemartin.blogspot.com/

  79. Jenny on October 11th, 2012 12:18 pm

    A thousand times, yes – this is my life, too. Yesterday my husband had to get my daughter ready for school and texted me at work in a panic because they were running late and he couldn’t find her shoes. I directed him – third cubby, left side, on top of Monopoly Jr., party edition. But like you, I wish I either felt like I was contributing more to the world or like I was appreciated for everything I am doing.

  80. Elizabeth on October 13th, 2012 9:36 pm

    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I had the flu last fall so my husband took our younger daughter to pre-school – I had to give him 15 minutes worth of instructions for a 2 minute task. (Sign her in, give this stack of papers to this person, make sure you tell this other person something else critical…) And he still didn’t get everything done.

    I was amused, once, to see the salary.com survey about the monetary value of a stay-at-home parent. If you’re going to hire people to take over everything you do, it’s going to cost you SIX FIGURES annually. I think the average was something like $138K. All I’m doing is driving carpools and coordinating playdates and cooking dinner and the goddamn laundry over and over and it feels like a rhesus monkey could take over for me and very possibly no one would notice. But apparently I’m very expensive! Silly, but it made me feel better.

  81. Susan on October 18th, 2012 1:56 am

    I couldn’t believe the gratitude I felt flooding through me reading this post; the endless cycle of beginning the day with the same day process that I just wrapped up the day before; and feeling totally pointless like a big hamster on a big wheel. I have a twist on the situation as I am a stay-at home wife/caregiver. My husband is older than i am and after a stroke changed our lives forever, I chose to leave my job to be at home with him. Not an easy decision to make, but he really did not like having hired helpers and he had been tiring of retirement on his own anyway. He contributes as much as he can, but truthfully everything is on my plate. The biggest and hardest insult is that our income now comes completely from a Trust in my husbands name. Six months ago the Trustee decided that my husband would no longer receive any money that might benefit me; groceries, dining out, auto, phone, health insurance, misc., every penny for me is coming from our savings. The Trustee states that I am not showing sufficient love and affection for my husband my demanding that (I) be paid for what a loving caring wife would provide without compensation. What the F..K!!!!!We’re currently suing the SOB.

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