Sometimes while standing at the bus stop in the morning, I see my childless neighbor leave for work, dressed all spiffy and professional-like. I get a whiff of my stank self, still sweaty from my pre-dawn workout and dressed in my running shorts and race t-shirt of the day, and feel a twinge of jealousy. The last time I felt like I looked spiffy was back in the spring and I was going to a friggin' funeral.
I thought about my neighbor, wondering if she felt that same twinge of jealousy about me and the other moms at the bus stop, who are dressed in sweats, sipping coffee, and don't have traffic to fight or co-workers to disagree with. I wonder what she and everyone else who drives past us on their way to work thinks about what we do all day in our comfy clothes. Well, one of those moms cares for her own two kids, as well as three or four other children whose parents work at the Navy base nearby. Another mom chugs down her coffee and carries on caring for her three children, despite having taken phone calls as a triage nurse from 10pm - 6am. I go home and answer my four year old's endless stream of questions, most of which are followed up with another question of "How do you know?", sometimes while trying to keep my infant nephew from choking on the leaves I hadn't gotten around to sweeping up off my floor yet. I take my child to and from pre-school and swim lessons, run various errands for my family and my business, all the while explaining why we can't buy certain things or go to certain places to said curious four year old and enduring the wrath that accompanies the answer she does not wish to hear. I assist with homework, drive to and watch soccer practice, cook for the bottomless pit that is my husband, keep our training schedules on track, and diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate any injuries that my family endures. Oh, and after the kids go to bed, I put in three hours of Fancy work (usually while the laundry is going) before retiring for a meager 5-6 hours of sleep before starting it all over again.
I am not writing this to impress anyone or to make myself look busy or feel important. I hate being busy, first of all, and being a wife, a mother, a sister, an aunt, and a friend makes me feel important, regardless of how some might convince themselves I spend my day. I am not whining that being a stay-at-home mom is just sooooo hard and working moms have no idea what it's like to do what I do because that's ridiculous. But would someone ever ask a working mom to list what she does all day? Because she collects a paycheck for what she does between 8 and 5, she doesn't have to justify how she spends her time? And what about the people like myself and my neighbor who are watching the children of working moms out of their homes? Are we still not working because we haven't left our house? I chose to stay home with my kids and not look spiffy and not have co-workers and bosses around to validate the hard work I put in every day. There are no awards or fancy banquets or pay raises for me when I do my job well. But if that's what I wanted, I wouldn't sit here complaining that I don't get any of those things. I would dust off my resume and get myself a job.
All of this being said, I am truly looking forward to the next few months. I'm sure many of my fellow soap opera watching, bon bon eating stay-at-home mom friends would agree that it's easy to lose your sense of self when your days are centered around your children's lives. Now that both of my kids are in school, it's even more common that I'm known as Brynn or Camryn's mom instead of Karen. And when I really thought about it, I think this diminished sense of self is what brought about that twinge of jealousy when I saw my neighbor leave for work that morning. But this time of year is when I'm my Fanciest, filling pumpkin orders for fall and jumping right into the holiday season after that. My business, no matter how small and unimportant what I do is in the grand scheme of humanity, is MINE. It's Fancy Fonts by Karen Psimas, not Fancy Fonts by Brynn and Camryn's mom, and that feels so good. I also have races scheduled about every 8 weeks for the next 5 months, and those are mine as well. It's MY name on the race bib and MY name that's announced at the finish line and MY name on the results page. And because I have the privilege to spend most of my time being Brynn and Camryn's mom, that's enough for me. Now where are my yoga pants?