She had me at “Groundhog Day.” A writer for one of my favorite blogs, Just.Be.Enough, wrote about the internal tug-of-war she’s having trying to reconcile her urge to be a writer with her stay-at-home-mom circumstances. I, too, have written about how the life of an at-home mom feels eerily like that ‘90s movie where Bill Murray keeps living the same day over and over again. And I, too, struggle with guilt about ignoring my children at times and the house being a wreck at all times.
But — and here’s where my circumstances seem to differ from blogger Alexa’s – my husband is supportive of my writing and doesn’t harbor many unrealistic expectations about me, our home, or our kids. And second, I have less guilt about the time I spend writing. (Though I certainly do struggle with more generalized mom guilt.)
First, the husband stuff. Alexa writes:
Each day my husband comes home from work with the expectation that Mary Tyler Moore will greet him at the door … In his fantasy, he will enter into the house to find it absolutely spotless, and his nose will catch a waft of something delicious in the works for dinner. His three children will look and behave impeccably. We will all smile and exchange pleasantries without a care in the world.
First I would ask, facetiously, has her husband ever MET a SAHM of 3 kids under age 6 in 2013? Then I would ask, quite seriously, is she SURE he has these expectations, or might she be projecting a teensy bit here? I don’t know, I’m asking. I have friends whose husbands DO expect a clean house and a non-cereal-based meal at the end of the day. Not many, but some.
An aside: A working-mom friend once said something that’s so great and rare it stuck with me. I was lamenting about how no matter what I did, my house always looked like a bomb went off. Specifically, a bomb made of Cheerios, action figures, sippy cups, dog hair, and stray socks. Whereas HER house always looked immaculate even though she worked full time.
She said, “Well, we’re never there to mess it up.” OF COURSE. Where did this expectation come from that SAHMs should have cleaner houses than people who are gone all day at work and daycare?! Every mom knows that cleaning with kids around is like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.
I am lucky that I have a husband who knows the deal. He knows that peed-on sheets, dog puke, spilled juice, dripped Popsicles, naked tantrums, and too-aggressive light-saber fights CAN and DO happen ALL the time. He knows that housekeeping – as in, keeping the house from being destroyed by our children – is a full-time, 2-person job. At least. So if he comes home from work and there are no bodily fluids on the floor and something besides leftover chicken nuggets for dinner, well, that’s a bonus.
Now, about the writing stuff: how do you get your spouse on board with your desire to be a writer? You don’t give him a choice. I’m joking but not. My husband knew I was a writer when we met and I’m a writer now. I realize that at first when you’re not getting paid to write, it can be hard to justify making the time to write. Maybe your husband could take the kids on Saturday mornings, like mine does, to give you a block of uninterrupted writing time?
It pays off in ways you can’t measure in dollars: by making you a happier wife and mother, for one thing. If I did nothing but seasonal craft projects, serve snacks, and mediate arguments over who had it first – which I do some days – I would go Bat. Crap. Crazy. Wouldn’t you rather spend some of your Groundhog Days doing something creative and productive like writing, if it makes you happier? I bet your family would. Try them.
LINK O’ THE DAY: Who among us doesn’t need to hear this from time to time? Dear Mom who sometimes feels like she is a terrible mom…