Long Week-end!

Wooo hooo!  Long week-end!!  Kids only had a half-day of school so I didn’t need to come up with any faux errands to occupy my time.  I can save those for next week.

Jogging, talking to the neighbors, getting ready for kid pick-up and picking up  – that’s about all I had time for this a.m.

But this p.m. I started to think about this long week-end stretching out before me.  With this stay at home mom thing there’s lots and lots of time to think.  And to hear that roaring ocean-in-a-seashell sound.  Which I now think is actually coming from inside my head.

Labor Day Week-end.  This long week-end is in honor of those who labor.  Which isn’t me.  Anymore.

Did I build up enough labor “points” when I was laboring that they now somehow carry over to those years when I don’t labor?  Or is someone at the local pool on Monday gonna be able to tell just by looking at me that I’m a Labor Day fraud?!

Speaking of pools…did you ever have that friend growing up who had that pool?  Remember how her older brothers spoke so convincingly of the chemicals they added to the pool that would cause a red dot to appear and follow you around in the pool if you pee’d in it?  From ages 8 to 10 – while swimming – I would suddenly whip around to see if I could catch a glimpse of that red dot.  Never did see it.  But I guess now I’ve given myself away.

Yeah – I pee’d in the pool.  I totally admit it.  And when it was my turn to be the older kid, I spent a good portion of my pool time convincing little kids that there was a red dot that would follow you around…

And as a side note, if you wanna spark some interesting conversation sometime, take a poll of your half-drunk friends as to whether or not THEY pee in the pool.  Or the shower.  You’d be surprised.  But be warned, the topic is very polarizing.

All of this makes me wonder if there might be chemicals in the air that mix with the eau-de-guilt wafting off of me (while I’m celebrating Labor Day when I really shouldn’t be) which will eventually form some sort of karmic red dot which floats around behind me for all to see?  Labor Day celebration??  I’m not “entitled” to it, so I shouldn’t be there, doing that.

So if you see me in the pool on Labor Day and I’m being followed by a red dot…and another red dot…you’ll know why.

Home Mom

What follows is a deconstruction of a conversation I had with my 10-year-old daughter this a.m.  Please note that my responses were all in my head:

HER: Hey Mom, now that you’re a home mom…

[ME: Home Mom?  Is that like a Home Boy??  What’up, what’up?!?]

HER:  you could stay in your pajamas all day

[ME: I could but then what would carpool lady think of my lazy a$$ and how would I run all of my expensive errands?!]

HER: and watch t.v.

[ME: This WHOLE time while I’ve been trying to figure out what to do, watching t.v. never occurred to me.  Maybe because I worry that once I start, I won’t stop and I’ll discover a show that becomes “mine” (or more likely shows plural).  As in “Yeah, I watch those.  Those are my shows!  I love them!!”  Also, watching t.v. midday reminds me too much of what Mrs. J (our next-door neighbor when we were growing up) used to do.  My mom had 5 kids, Mrs. J. had 2.  My mom never watched t.v. – unless it was the Electric Company but I suspect that was more for my benefit than hers – but Mrs. J. watched what I mistakenly thought were called Soap Boppers.  They were kindof dark and filled with minimal scenery.  Everyone seemed to be in black and white and talking in a square, bare room.  Maybe everyone was just wearing black and white?  But I remember a lot of potted plants, and I don’t remember them being green so maybe the boppers were in black and white??  Or maybe they were in color but the t.v.’s were black and white???  Also, there was always lots of angst and unhappiness.  And they made me feel vaguely queasy for some reason.  Would the actors have been smoking in the boppers back in the 70’s?  Perhaps.  Maybe that’s why they made me feel queasy.  Who’s to say.]

HER: You could eat chips

[ME: Hmmm…have we now veared into a description of what YOU would do on a day off, Sweetie?]

HER: and drink coffee

[ME: Ok, maybe it was your idea of a good-time-during-a-day-off right up until the coffee thing, but I will give you that: I do drink a lot of coffee.  Originally it was a habit started back when you were a weaned infant, My Dear, but still up all night; when I had to go and put in a full day of work the next day, suddenly coffee became my best friend. Lots and lots of coffee.  Besties.  BFF’s.]

HER: and make laundry!

[ME: Wait!  MAKE laundry?  You think I MAKE laundry??  Do you picture me going up and rolling around in your bed in my sweaty workout clothes just so I’ll have some sheets to change?!  Beautiful Girl, it’s not I who makes all the laundry around here.  I do the laundry, but you got the wrong gal if you’re looking for the person who makes the laundry!]

ME: (out loud) Yeah – that sounds like fun.  I could do that.  If I weren’t so busy doing other things.

Making cookies etc.

You gotta be a real self-starter in this job.  You gotta get it done when you want it done, otherwise it doesn’t get done.

Take, for example, finding my exercise watch.  Still haven’t.  But the point is that no one else is going to find it for me.  No one else cares that it’s lost.  And in all honesty, I had forgotten about finding it until I had to find it again this a.m.  Now I remember that I was supposed to find it yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday, I was antsy all morning.  I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that in order to consider my day a “success” I felt like I had to get up and bust out of the house running (literally and figuratively), rather than toodling around the house the whole a.m.  So in order to overcome this issue, I spent the morning just being at home, living in the moment and trying not to feel like I had to GO and DO! (Roll your eyes if you must, but this is a journey of discovery that I’m documenting.  And yes, roll your eyes again at the “journey of discovery” comment.)

So I – along with every tween girl in America who hasn’t gone back to school yet – baked a batch of cookies.  I never did get to the store (refer to self-starter section above), so I used the two eggs left in the fridge that expired 2 days ago.  I figured I’d eat a cookie when they cooled and I’d give it several hours.  If I wasn’t sick in some way after that, the kids could eat them too.  Plus, I read that the egg expiration date is just some wacky planned obsolescence theory cooked up by that industry so that people will buy more eggs, and that in reality eggs are good WAY past their “expiration date.” I hope I didn’t get that theory all scrambled (get it?  Me funny.  Hardy har har)  Don’t worry, the rest of this blog will go over easy after that first egg joke.  (get it?  Me even funnier!)

I also didn’t really have the requisite amount of chocolate chips.  So I had to cobble together enough chips from a bag of milk chocolate chips (about a 1/2 cup – and not even close to expiring), white chocolate chips (about another 1/2 cup – expired 10 days ago), and then 3/4 cup of Andes chocolate mint pieces that expired 11 months ago (why do I still even HAVE them in my pantry after an entire house move?!?).  This whole time my mother’s New Hampshire accent was ringing in my head: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!  Aha!  That’s why I still have the chocolate mint pieces in my pantry!!

Working under the premise that EVERY industry subscribes to the egg industry’s planned obsolescence theory, I took the expiration dates as gentle guidelines and made the cookies anyway.  Note to self: check supplies before jumping into cookie expedition!  But my hard-boiled approach to life will get me through every time (ok, I’ll stop now).

In the midst of the cookie extravaganza, I kept panicking about missing my 1:10 appointment with my son’s teacher.  I’d be engrossed with the current project only to think “Shit! What time is it?!” quickly followed by a glance at the clock.  Whew! It’s only 10:07.  I’ve got plenty of time.

When I was all done making the batter, I remembered how much I hate to stand there with my little teaspoonful placing plugs of dough on acres and acres of cookie sheets, so I did pan cookies.  How innovative!  What a fresh approach to the traditional cookie!!

I took a taste when they had cooled sufficiently and aside from thinking that I should have used ALL expired mint chips since it only tasted vaguely minty but in the process made the rest of the chips redundant – I was fine.  No stomach aches or anything!

Shit!  What time is it?!  Whew – it’s only 10:34.  I have plenty of time.

I also did a wash.  Well – I did two washes.  One wash was the stuff that had been in the dryer for two days but hadn’t dried all the way and therefore smelled slightly “off.”  The other wash was an actual wash.

In addition, I got all the a.m. dishes done in the a.m.  Imagine my feeling of success as I’m standing there with cookies cooling on the rack, the scent of cookies in the air and the cookie dishes swishing around in the dishwasher.  Rock on!

Shit!  What time is it?! 11:00 on the money.  Whew!  I have plenty of time. But judging by the clock, it could now be considered late morning so I got dressed.  In the same clothes I had worn the day before.  Hey!  It was a cute outfit!!  And I was going to see a totally different group of people from the day before, so it was fine.  I always have a plan.  Never question the plan.

Sat in the sun for a bit and read my Nook.  Decided that sunlight was the perfect light to use with my magnifying mirror to pluck the crap out of my eyebrows.

Shit! Blah blah blah?!  11:42.  Couldn’t take the stress of waiting anymore so I and my red-yet-oddly-denuded brow left the house plenty early for the teacher meeting.  Had time to spare in fact so I swung by the sports store to get my new sneakers.  See self-starter note above.

What to do, what to do?

I used to be Queen of the mile-long-to-do list.  But today I have nothing to do.  It’s 7:45 a.m. and I just got done doing the dinner dishes from last night.  The dinner dishes were the one-and-only pressing thing on my calendar today.

(Side note – I always seem to be a bit late to the party with the dishes, doing the dinner ones in the a.m. But that’s mostly because after dinner, the a.m. ones still haven’t cleared out of the dishwasher.  That’s weird.  The dishwasher used to be of the magical variety, with stuff automatically appearing and disappearing from it quite frequently.  But that also might have been because my husband was in charge of the dishes.  There was some unspoken division of labor there when I was working.  I would buy all the food, plan all the meals, cook all the meals and he would do the dishes.  A totally fair split, right?  Yep – totally fair.  But now that I’m NOT working, I do all that stuff AND I do the dishes.  We haven’t actually talked about it [that being the rule of unspoken rules, not to speak about them that is], but that seems to be the way things are headed.  And like I said, I’m always late to the dish party.  And they no longer magically do themselves.  Only now there’s no one to yell at about it.  Except myself.  And that would seem unbalanced.  So I refrain.)

Anywho – I guess I’ll look for jobs this morning.  I promised the Unemployment Agency I would (and I have been, trust me).  It’s just that now I remember I need to get a new pair of sneakers today.  I’ve been meaning to and when I went running yesterday my foot hurt and I was reminded why I need a new pair.  So I really must do that today because I’m planning on going running tomorrow and it would be fun plus something to look forward to if I had a new pair of sneakers to wear!

And I also have to find my exercise watch.  I didn’t go running outside yesterday even though it was gorgeous because I couldn’t find my watch.  Naturally I don’t want to run any farther or longer than I need to, so it’s necessary to wear a watch to know when to turn around and head home.  On the treadmill in the basement, I can see both time and distance, so I’m golden.  Also, while I’m there, I get to catch up with Matt, Al, Natalie and Savanna?  What happened to Ann?!  Boy, I’m really out of touch.

And you know what the little voice in my head has been saying to me recently? Well in addition to telling me I’m wasting my college degree – and my master’s degree??  The little voice has been telling me I should totally make a batch of homemade cookies.  My mother-in-law made a strawberry rhubarb pie this week-end and the kids inhaled it.  The kids love homemade stuff like that but I never make it.

My stay at home mom used to make homemade desserts for us all the time.  But would set them on a ceramic plate and cover them with a metal cake cover.  So that you could never lift the cover off the dessert without it accidentally banging into the plate and making the whole effort sound like a gong.  Clearly some sort of dessert booby trap invented to keep her chuckling.  Hey – when you’re a stay at home mom I guess you have to get your jollies where you can!  But once the dessert gong would sound, she’d yell from wherever she was in the house, “get out of the cookies/brownies/fill in the blank!  They’re for your father!!”  But where there’s a will, there’s a way!  And come dinner time, Dad would have about three cookies/brownies/fill in the blank left to enjoy.

But back to me.  For my homemade dessert foray, I’ll have to get eggs of course, and chocolate chips.  I’ll start slow with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  No crazy out-of-my-depth combo pies for me (just yet).  So now my day is looking up!  Turns out I have LOTS to do!  I have to:

  • Get new sneakers
  • Find my watch
  • Get ingredients for cookies
  • Bake cookies
  • Do dishes from cookie extravaganza before dinner dishes happen again

Oh wait!  My son’s teacher literally just e-mailed.  She wants to meet with me at 1:10 today.  What?!  The first thought that occurs to me isn’t: What did the little monkey do at the beginning of the second week of school that warrants a parent/teacher meeting?  No.  Back to me.  My first thought is actually: Does she think I’m just sitting here with an entirely free day at my disposal waiting for her email ??!  Doesn’t she know I’m busy!?!

On becoming magical…

I took some time to reflect this week-end on how I can improve my stay at home momness.  I feel like despite my best effort, I’m just not getting it right.  What ELSE should I be doing in order to be a success here?  So…I came up with the following list (best few.  The list is actually huge but I need to take baby steps and all that jazz):

  1. Learn how to run errands that don’t cost money.  Why do all errands cost money? Where are all the FREE errands?!  Or at least the inexpensive errands?  Is this why stay at home moms start clipping coupons?  It’s hard to say.  This requires more observation. But for now the gist here is that I need to find something to do that occupies my time and doesn’t cost money.
  2. Along those lines, the one thing I can do (besides volunteering) that doesn’t cost money is exercise.  I purport that the thinnest people I know are stay at home moms.  That’s because they actually have TIME to exercise.  Working moms are stressed and overweight because they’ve gotta do everything the stay at home moms do, but squeeze it all in and around a full work-day.  So something has to fall by the wayside and that includes exercise and time spent on self.  So, I’m getting back on track with the exercise scene.  But first and foremost: I have to get exercise clothes that don’t smell like I exercised in them.  Or look like I exercised in them.  How do all these stay at home moms bee-bop into the school office in the a.m. wearing exercise togs that don’t look or smell like they’ve been exercised in?!  Or they bee-bop into the school office in the afternoon.  Same deal.  Is it the clothes themselves that have magical powers?  Or perhaps it’s the women who are magic?? (am now adding “become magical” to the list of things to work on).  Regardless, I need to do better here because I can’t go anywhere with my exercise clothes on (well, except to exercise by myself in my basement – or to my driveway to wait for the carpool).
  3. I need to learn how to take empty hours from the morning and apply them to the afternoon.   All heck breaks loose in the afternoon.  Everyone has to be everywhere all the time after 3 p.m.  Or is it that I have to learn how to bifurcate?  Or is it replicate??  Either way, I need to uncover how to achieve a balance of activities in my day.  Can I start attending appointments in the morning on behalf of my children?  That might free up some of my time in the afternoon.  Say for example I could stand-in for my daughter on her 10-year-well-visit at 10a.m.  Hi doctor, I’m filling in for my 10-year-old today.  I’ve weighed and measured her at home and here are the stats.  I’ll pee into a cup with her name on it.  (we’ve got the same genes and eat the same stuff, so the results should be pretty similar, right?)  Yes, she wears her helmet when she bike rides and she wants to be a vet when she grows up.  You can check my spine for scoliosis.  Just don’t peek into my underwear, that creeps me out.  I’ll bring the sticker home to her and tell her she did a good job.  Howz about a tootsie roll for me?!
  4. Learn Spanish.  Now you’re wondering to yourself why on earth I need to learn Spanish.  There’s a method to the madness here that I will shortly reveal and you will be astounded.  Remember the comment above about doing stuff that doesn’t cost money?  Well, it occurred to me that the library was a great place to start.  I should start reading again for pleasure.  Which is something that has fallen by the wayside in recent years.  But what to start with?  Why the ever-popular and much-discussed-among-the-stay-at-home-crowd “50 Shades of Grey.”  In fact, I believe this to be required reading and I’m very late completing my assignment.  The only problem is that while the library has 74 copies, 0 are available and there are 123 patrons on the waiting list.  I will never get to read this book.  Unless…wait! There is one copy of  Cincuenta Sombras de Grey and it’s available!  Olé!!!
  5.  Become magical (I told you I was adding this, don’t act so surprised).

Day 5 (aka “the end of the stay at home mom work week”)

Ok…it’s the final day of my stay at home mom “work week” and I can’t shake the impression that it has mostly been filled with zany antics and nutty goings-on.  In fact, all day I expected Lucille Ball to show up, at which point we’d be forced to start shoving candy into our mouths because the conveyor belt was going too fast.  But let me itemize what the day entailed so we can decide together if I’m actually getting the hang of this thing:

  • Got up at 6:10 only to find one child in my bed and the other in my bathroom.  They have this weird sixth sense when my husband is out of town which causes them to migrate into my room in the early morning hours.
  • Got everyone dressed (except for me), got breakfast made (cold cereal, screw the scones).  Lunches were already packed – I did ‘em last night when I was cleaning up from dinner.  I’ve read all those Time Management articles in Redbook too!
  • After I opened the garage door to get ready for the carpool, I proceeded to dance around in my pj’s for 10 minutes due to the snake that slithered out (which the kids insisted was a baby rattler).
  • Lots of picture-taking ensued and of course it was absolutely vital that we call the kids-on-the-way-to-the-bus-stop over to lend their opinion as to the identity of the snake (yep, baby rattler).
  • Coming to my senses and realizing that I was still dressed in my pj’s (which are really just an oversized 95%-off, 4th of July t-shirt) I made a mad dash up the stairs to get something presentable on before the carpool lady swung around the corner.
  • Oddly enough, when she arrived she refused to let her kids out of the car to see the snake, so my two hopped in and off they went to school.  All of this put us at about 7:15 am.
  • I then texted pics of the snake to my parents and husband.  The verdict was a baby bull snake.  It looks just like a rattle snake, except without the rattle.  Duh.
  • Didn’t run.
  • Didn’t shower.
  • Instead – for the next 2 hours I checked email, which devolved into looking at dumb “top news” stories online: Jesus Fresco Fiasco, What to Buy/What to Skip at Yard Sales, Lance Armstrong Stripping (or was he being stripped of something?), Jennifer Hudson Stuns in Minidress etc.
  • When I realized it was 9:30, I had to fly out of the house because the cleaning ladies were coming at 10 and I wanted to eliminate any possibility of them catching me skulking out of my own dirty house without a job to my name.
  • Swung by the post office to drop off 3 thank you notes (even though I have a perfectly serviceable mailbox in front of my house).
  • Stopped at the bank to deposit two checks that were so piddling I would normally have just cashed them.
  • Spent 3 hours at the jewelry store talking to the nice, patient lady about resetting my diamond (hey, I’ve got TIME to kill and I was just looking!!!).
  • Went to Ulta to use my $3.50-off-a-$10-purchase coupon.  Turns out I also had $3.00 in rewards points accumulated so I got $11 worth of stuff for only $4.  Score!
  • Returned a $14 headband my daughter didn’t want to a chi-chi sports store at the mall.  Going into this place is like going to a whole ‘nother planet where they don’t sell clothes beyond a size 12 (because “large” people don’t sweat?!) and where unused $14 headbands intended for 10 year old girls can’t be returned.  But they returned it for me “just this once” because it was “their bad” that they didn’t tell me the policy when I purchased the headband yesterday.  Whew!  Crisis averted.
  • Had an hr. + conversation with my sister on the phone.
  • Went to pick up the kids ½ hour early and lucky for me there were other moms there early too…so we got to chat for a bit about the upcoming school fundraiser; how the first week of school went for everyone; what kind of homework each grade had; what everyone was doing for the week-end etc.
  • Took all the kids in the carpool home and during the ride – when they complained about being hungry – I passed out fruit-flavored hard candies to one and all!
  • When I got everyone dropped off, I turned around and brought my son to the doctor to check a growth on his knee (it’s a wart, put duct tape on it).
  • Met some neighbors on their back deck for a beer (or three) while my husband took my son and his friend to football practice.  (My husband is the coach, otherwise I would have driven.  Really.)
  • When my husband called to say they were on their way home and to ask when dinner would be ready, I told him to order pizza and dinner would be ready shortly after that.
  • Big pause on the phone followed by “seriously?!”

And so it goes.  I think it’s coming along nicely, don’t you?  I just wish I had Lucille Ball’s phone number.  I’d invite her to lunch.  We’d have lots of fun.

Lunch Plans

I spent the morning cleaning for the cleaning lady’s visit tomorrow.  And when I say “cleaning” I really mean “tidying” and “putting away.”  It’s just that I want her to have a completely blank canvas on which to work her magic when she comes!

It’s also that I’m feeling really guilty about even having a cleaning lady.  I mean, come on!  I’ve got TIME now…so I can clean my own bleeping house!!  Which means the whole watching-someone-clean-my-house-even-though-I-can-clean-it-myself methodology will soon be going away.  So I want to make the most of her (last…big sigh) visit.  If I can only maximize her dusting now, I won’t have to dust again in two weeks.  Or maybe I’ll just have to dust less?!

Since I had my first child 10 years ago, I haven’t cleaned my own house.  With both of us working and wanting to spend quality time with the babies, my husband and I decided it was very worth our while to pay a housecleaning service to free us up for the more important things in life.

So now what?!

In the midst of all this house-cleaning angst, I met a working friend for lunch (she paid because she knows I don’t have a job!  Hey, I’m not THAT lame…I picked up the tip!).  During said lunch, we observed two woman who had 4 Coors Lights and 3 bloody mary’s between them and got louder as lunch progressed.  I can’t say whether they were stay at home moms for sure but judging by what we “overheard” there at the end, they were.

We also observed two women who were dressed professionally and seemed to have come from a meeting (whether they were mothers or not, I couldn’t say).  But they ordered Grey Goose and tonics before they ordered lunch.  My friend and I looked at our unsweetened ice tea and we both came to the same conclusion.  No matter what camp you fall into – working woman, stay at home mom – we’re clearly doing our lunches all wrong.

More drinks for everyone!!!

Then, since my husband is out of town on a business trip, I spent the rest of the afternoon futilely trying to replicate myself in order to get my children to two different activities in two different places, at the same time.  But I would have been doing that whether I was working or not – and with just about the same degree of success.

The secret’s out!

Holy Timing, Batman!

Despite what I said earlier, I felt like I was running out of errands (well – all except for the stupid ones like finally using my 3 month old gift card to the make-up store; clearly not very pressing)…when what to my wondering eyes should appear?! The school Volunteer Handbook (which is chock full of all sorts of excellent volunteer opportunities just waiting for volunteers.)

Rest assured that I was moderated in my volunteering approach, not committing to any chair positions or really any large jobs that might take place in the second half of the year. Because, remember, my stay at home mom gig is just temporary. I am actually seeking full-time employment (Hi, Unemployment Agency!).

What I did commit to volunteering for is: Book Fair, Annual Fundraising Auction, Father/Daughter Dance, Field Day (actually I signed my husband up for that. Surprise, Honey!), Teacher Appreciation Luncheons, Coaching (surprise again, Honey!) and Hot Lunch.

The funny thing is that I would have signed up to help with all of these things anyway whether I had a job or not. Well, all except for Hot Lunch. I haven’t done that before. But for years the kids have been begging me to do it. I don’t see what the appeal is there. Serve lunch to a bunch of monkeys who can barely keep the food on their tray?! And what do the kids get out of it? A chance to ignore their mother while acting like they’ve been elected chief monkey?? The only thing I can figure is that the stay at home moms do it because it fits nicely into the slot between meeting-for-coffee-after-school-drop-off and meeting-for-lunch-at-the-new-place-we’ve-been-wanting-to-try.

So…I sent off a text to my stay at home mom friends (yes, I actually have them despite being mystified by them) asking for guidance on the Hot Lunch thing. The end result? Hot Lunch only needs to be volunteered for once a month. No explanation given, but the monkeys must be worse than I thought. And as suspected, it DOES fit nicely into the schedule gap I just mentioned!! But mostly now everyone is in an uproar about me being a stay at home mom too! Which is an unintended consequence of the text (or is it?! Mwa ha ha – evil laugh). On the upside, due to the inner workings of the school communication channels, everyone will know before the day is out which now relieves me of the awkward conversations and disclosures. Phew!

But come on, people! While I’m glad the job-take is finally out there, why is it causing such a stir?! Perhaps they all loved my job as much as I did? Frankly, it did give me an excuse to give up the can-totally-be-done-another day errands, and it gave me a reason to dress up most days. My hair was usually in a cute style and not hidden constantly under a ball cap or other trendy chapeau every morning. I had a good reason to skip exercising and to go out to dinner rather than making it after a long day. And I didn’t feel guilty about having cleaning ladies come in every other week. But mostly…it gave me a chance to volunteer at school!!

Real Housewives of Colorado

I woke up early and made scones for the children.  Blueberry and chocolate chip.  It’s what we stay at home moms do (shhh…it was one of those purchases from WalMart I mentioned that I didn’t know I wanted or needed, but turns out I did and do; 13-18 minutes until lightly browned).

And — I have a big announcement.  Wait for it.  Wait for it………..….I have a carpool!  Another first!!  I’m almost giddy with excitement.  We now live in a neighborhood that includes another family whose kids attend the same (private, parochial) school as mine do.  Have I jumped into the stay at home mom pool head first or what?  My kids go to school and I don’t have to take them there every morning.  I can share that duty with someone else.  Prior to this, there was no carpooling because of my work schedule and needing to be flexible to accommodate it.

So, the carpool mom (who works!) picked the kids up at 7:15 am.  How decadent!  My husband is off to work.  My kids are off to school and I didn’t have to take them there and then rush over to work with a million things-to-do running through my head.  There was no yelling or screaming about being late, being dressed, being fed, having lunches, having teeth brushed, having backpacks, water bottles and homework.

I find myself standing in the driveway waving good-bye as the carpool drives down the street.  I’m in my exercise clothes because I didn’t want the working mom to see me in my pj’s and think less of me.  But now what?  Is it just my imagination or do I hear a roaring in my ears similar to the sound of the big ocean in the little seashell?!

I’m thinking I could go for a 10k run and be done and showered all by 9 a.m.  Then I blink my eyes and it’s 9:30 and I’m having a second breakfast and still haven’t gone running.  What the frick??

So I do finally go for a run (note – 4 cups of coffee are too many to consume prior to a 6.2 mile run so you have to work them out of your system first).

And I’m showered and on my way by 11:30!  Ok 2 ½ hours after I wanted to be showered and on my way, but who knows or cares.  I actually “swing by” the pediatrician’s office to pick up medication paperwork for school.  Prior to this I would have thought picking up paper copies anywhere was an antiquated approach.  But now…I have TIME to do that sort of thing!!!

I hang out with the school office ladies for a bit while I’m making copies of said paperwork and we all compliment each other on our cute summer haircuts.  Then I run a bunch of errands (the errands sit in the front passenger seat of the car multiplying like rabbits.  I never knew I had so many or that they’d keep coming.  It seems like an endless supply.  Which is ok because have I mentioned that I have TIME?!?).

My cousin – whom I had actually told about my job take (I refuse to call it loss) – had mentioned in a recent conversation that I need to get started with my GTL efforts once the kids go back to school.  It’s what stay at home moms do.  Gym. Tan. Lunch.  In my cousin’s fantasy version, the lunching takes place at the country club with alcoholic beverages being consumed.

So, being thoughtful and low-pressure, she texts me on Day 2 to ask how it’s going as one of the Real Housewives of Colorado (did I mention I live in Colorado?  Now I’ve got my mom all panicked because I’m revealing too much personal info.  Just please don’t ask for my social security #.  Or stalk me.  That’s got “I told you so” written all over it.)

Thus ensues the following text exchange…

ME:    Let’s see…I went running outside this a.m. so that’s the exercise & tanning in one fell swoop.  And I had a bean burrito at Del Taco between errands so that covers all 3 things, right?  Somehow it doesn’t seem as glamorous as u made it sound!!!

COUSIN:   I think you’re doing it wrong.  And you missed the mojitos at the country club.

ME:   I should be wearing a bikini doing some of this, shouldn’t I??

COUSIN:  I think you added that.  No need for additional pressure.

ME:  Good point. Just wish there were a pamphlet I could get from the OB/GYN’s office so I could read up on all of this!!

COUSIN: Maybe your mom could send you a newspaper clipping.  I know mine would.

[my mother and my cousin’s mother are sisters and therefore have a very similarly scary approach to rearing children who are now all in their 30’s and 40’s]

ME:  Yes, excellent call.  I’ll get her right on it.

COUSIN:  And she will feel good about being helpful.  Win win.

ME:  And I might also get a recipe for 3 ingredient brownies-u-can-bake-in-a-mug as well as some articles on how I caused my children’s peanut allergies.  So I’ll be fully informed on all topics.

COUSIN:  So there’s that.  But then I can send you newspaper clippings on how to get over the lunacy of those that birthed you.

–end string—

Come to think of it, my mother and her sister were both stay at home moms.  And I turned out all right.  This will be fine.  Totally fine.  I won’t mess my kids up or anything by being a stay at home mom.

Also, I now fully anticipate receiving an envelope filled with clippings on all of the above as well as a few clippings on how people have turned their blogging into full time careers.  No note will be included.  Just a little smiley face on the back of the envelope.  So I will know it’s sent with love.  And not sent by a robot in a newspaper clipping factory.

Hi, Mom!

I’m a stay at home mom (for real!)

The kids went back to school and now I REALLY feel like a stay-at-home-mom.  Prior to that it was summer break, we had just moved, I was unpacking the house, I was planning for a family reunion, I was at the family reunion etc. etc. so the stay-at-home-mom feeling hadn’t really kicked in.

Now it’s official and I’m kindof nervous in a way.  What will I do all day?  Is this just temporary?  Will I ever find another job?  Do I WANT another job??  Since I don’t have a job, how does this whole unemployment thing work??? (Side note: applying for unemployment seems like a full-time job in and of itself.  I have a master’s degree for Pete’s sake and I can set up my own blog and register a domain name…but the unemployment application process remains a mystery to me.  I can’t even imagine how you would navigate the system if English weren’t your first language!  But more on this inanity in a later blog post).

Anyway, so far so good.  I’ve been able to occupy my time.  But the first day was only a ½ day of school so I got off easy.

Plus I had to drive my parents to the airport after dropping the kids off and seeing them settled in their new classrooms.  So that took up some time.

Then I ran to Wal-Mart for some things.  While there I found myself continually checking my watch.  Was it really only 9:55?!  Seriously, I thought my watch had stopped so I double checked the time on my iPhone.  I had this nagging feeling the whole time that I was supposed to be somewhere else, doing something else.  But in a way, I was also enjoying the leisureliness of the whole thing.  I got my shopping done.  Bought all sorts of crap I didn’t know I needed or wanted.  Dropped it all off at home.  And STILL made it to school at 11:15 for chit-chat in the hallways with other moms prior to the 11:30 indoor dismissal.

A friend I saw in passing asked if I was going to the park after school.  My blank look must have clued her in to the fact that I had no idea what she was talking about.  So she mentioned that I was on the group email about a picnic at a local park after the first day of school.  At that point I had to confess that I lost my job and therefore wasn’t getting any emails from that work address anymore.

Now let’s just stop right here for a second and mention that this whole job loss thing presents its own conundrum.  Who to tell and when?  And how??  How do I tell people that I “lost” my job?!  I haven’t even told my in-laws (who live in the same town) or some of my siblings, but now find myself in a position of telling random others.  It’s not like I’m embarrassed about it…or am I?  And it’s not like I really “lost” it.  Saying I lost my job makes me sound totally irresponsible.  Like I packed it in a moving box which got misplaced in the basement under Christmas decorations and I won’t find it until December.  Let’s be honest: they “took” my job.  They closed the office, relocated the job back to headquarters 10 states and 2 time zones away.  And because I had just moved – oh, and had these pesky responsibilities referred to as a spouse (who has his own job) and a family – I wasn’t really able to follow the job back to headquarters.  But I spent a good month trying to find a job with the same company, only to wake from that crazy dream.  Why scramble to take a job that I don’t even want just to stay with the same employer?  So I took the money and ran.  Now that the “my heart is in my throat” panicked feeling about being on the brink of financial ruin is just about gone, I should probably start telling people I don’t have a job.  And please stop sending messages to the defunct email address.  And btw here’s my new email address.  But I’m busy wearing my new stay-at-home mom hat so I’ll get to it when I can.

Anyway – the light bulb went off about the picnic in the park thing.  Of course!  That’s what stay-at-home moms do!!   [Ok, I’m now getting rid of the stay-at-home mom hyphens because they’re a pain-in-the-neck to type]  We go to the park with a picnic!!  YES!  My first day as a stay at home mom (note no hyphens) and I’m hittin’ the ground running!!!  Woo hoo!

So I hustle home, pack a picnic lunch and get to the park an hour after everyone else because they all stopped at Chik-fil-A on the way there.  I’m eating my homemade turkey and pepperjack on white bread when the organizing mom mentions that her email to me bounced back.  With a mouthful of gummy bread, I’m now in the position of telling these always-and-permanent stay at homers that I “lost” my job and that the email address doesn’t work anymore.

They’re all very sympathetic.  Tisk tisking as if they care.  But it’s awkward so I try to make a joke about it.  Something along the line of “but thanks for the invite though, because this gives me a chance to learn from you ol’ pros what I’m supposed to be doing with my time!” hardy har har.

One of the moms pipes up in her most helpful voice and says “well, we’re not stay at home moms.  We call ourselves full-time moms!”

Helpful, but not.  In my head I’m thinking: WTF?!  Seriously??  I’m ALSO a full-time mom.  I just happened to work outside the house, but I didn’t have some half-assed part-time approach to my kids.  I was just as engaged with and concerned for my children as any of all y’all!  Beyotch, I will totally cage fight you now for that comment!!!

In reality I gave a little tee-hee and say “is there such a thing as a part-time mom?”  Then quickly packed up the kids and headed out.

End Scene!

The sun has set on Day 1 of stay at home mom land.  And none too soon.