I bet those people think I spend all day twiddling my thumbs. Well, the joke is on them! I only spend HALF my day twiddling my thumbs.
But seriously, I have yet to come up with a great answer for any of those people. The folks who want to high five me don't realize I had not originally intended to take on this role, and that I think working outside the home is a totally valid and healthy way of life as well. And those who think I am a lazy lucky lady don't seem to understand just where my time goes, probably because I have yet to figure out how to accurately convey it to them.
Luckily, the Washington Post's Carolyn Hax did it for me:
When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
This reminded me of another post I read back when I was pregnant, a blog post by Dooce that absolutely cracked me up:
Have you ever been a stay-at-home parent? Do you have any idea the amount of rigorous work and emotion it requires? The tireless hours of performing tasks that will never earn you a raise or a gold star or even be acknowledged by another human being? Cause Imma let you shut your mouth if you haven't.
Look, I am not saying stay at home parents are made of more awesome than other people. In fact, a friend who read the WP article pointed out that the author's point is the same about good parents as it would be about anyone else giving a project their all - personal time becomes incredibly precious. Sometimes it seems like the difference is a matter of respect - in our culture, we respect earning money, we respect a quantifiable end result. Raising kids is pretty much the antithesis of those things, where we wind up with less money and a perpetual work-in-progress project who has the audacity to have a mind of his or her own who eventually reaches a point where THEY WILL GET THAT TATTOO BECAUSE I AM 18 AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, DAD.
This is a really long winded way of getting around to say this: my personal truth is that I have NEVER worked as hard at a job as I have at being home alone with my baby all day. And there's only one of him! And he isn't even mobile yet! I'm going to have to level up here soon. Anyway, this is what I do all day. I raise my son.