A note from a WFHM on the 1st day of school…

Today, Mose started kindergarten. He trotted off, up the stairs, and into his classroom. He sat down in his little chair, (apparently) had a great day, and came home again 6 hours later.  To find me smiling, relieved, excited to see him.

And I could post about how weepy I got as I left the school myself, about how an era is ending, about how proud I am of Mose.  I could… but something else is in my head to say.

Because when the boys go back to school each fall, I am struck with a huge sense…

Of relief.

I love my kids. More than anything in the universe! I love spending real time with them.  I love the summer– full of ice cream and slip-n-slides, beach trips and rainy TV-watching days. I love almost everything about being a mom.

But then when I’m NOT with my kids, I love working on my books too. I love getting things done quickly. I love writing, and reading, and talking to other grownups. I love the sweet emails I get from kids and teachers, librarians and parents. I love conferences and reviews and silence. I love collaborating with artists and hashing over my work with editors and my wonderful agent.   I love visiting schools and festivals.  Most of all, what I love about my work is escaping into my own head for long periods of time, uninterrupted…

And part of what makes a long stretch of SAHMing (like this summer has been) feel okay for me is the fact that I know it will end, and the boys will go somewhere else for a bit eventually, while I do my other work, which is, to be honest, MUCH EASIER!

Yes, it is easier to write books than it is to spend all day with my kids! It’s true.  I’m not saying I resent my kids. I’m not saying writing is “better” or “more fun” or “more important” or anything else value-based.  I’m just saying it’s easier.  And truth be told, waiting tables for 12 hours in a row was easier, and writing grants for a non-profit was easier, and program-directing for Hillel was easier, and picking plums in the Israeli summer for 8 straight hours on a kibbutz was easier! In short, almost everything I’ve done in my life has been EASIER THAN BEING A SAHM.

And here is what I can’t stop thinking today:  what about the SAHMs (and SAHDs too of course)?  How do they feel at the end of summer? The home-school moms and the mothers of toddlers or infants without childcare, for whom the fall is a new season, with changes and growth, but a fairly similar schedule.

If their days are anything like my days in the summer, they are full of sweet sleepy mornings, full days, lots of chatter, and voices, and art projects, and kitchen projects, and muddy shoes, and interesting questions, and hugs and tears to be wiped away… wonderful goodness…  such important great moments…

But also– dishes and laundry piles that never end, quarrels to break up and shouts to speak over. So many small tasks that go unnoticed. So many jobs that get interrupted and have to be begun again.  So many showers that get cut short.  SO many phone calls that end with “I’ll have to call you back.”

Which is to say– these women (and men) are SUPERWOMEN (and supermen)!  They have the amazing mutant power of doing hard good work in the world without needing to be thanked for about 90%  of it.  They are doing massively important work, and they are baking COOKIES WITH A SMILE!  How on earth do they manage it? HOW?

Imagine if you went to work every day, and NOBODY NOTICED MOST OF WHAT YOU DID!  How would that feel?  If you dug that ditch or arranged that conference call or traded those stocks or apprehended that perpetrator or litigated that tort (is that a thing? I think that’s a thing…) or nursed that sick kid or marketed that widget or whatever it is you do… and nobody ever said, “Hey, good job!” or “You knocked that out of the park” or “Let’s go to happy hour” or even, “Oh, was that you who changed the trash?”

Seriously, folks. It takes a strong, secure human to do this kind of work 24/7 with a smile. It takes a patient love. It takes humility and grace and intelligence and a HUGE sense of humor.

So today, as I peer into the horizon of fall, as I spend these last days with Lew, getting ready to go “back to work” after a “summer of fun” I want to take a moment to praise the SAHMs and SAHDs.  Who are a true miracle to me.  And deserving of great thanks and admiration.

Not that we aren’t ALL deserving of thanks and admiration.  But most of us get a paycheck. A yearly review. A weekend. Sometimes even a bonus.

Not that raising healthy kids isn’t a bonus of sorts. But it’s awfully hard to cash them in for a shopping spree at IKEA.

(Not that I’ve tried or anything. Ahem)



2 Responses to “A note from a WFHM on the 1st day of school…”

  1. Victoria Trestrail Says:

    Wonderful post. THANK YOU! I just found out this morning that you are a writer, a published writer at that! I will now be following your blog! I have the same thoughts, I just wish i could be as articulate and I am glad that someone else can articulate it for me!

  2. Vicky Alvear Shecter Says:

    A beautiful and wonderful piece, Laurel. I continue to be amazed at your ability to write while mothering little ones. It was not something I was able to do. I used to joke that when the kids were little, I suffered from Solitude Depravation Syndrome (SDS). Being able to take a deep breath and write or think without interruption is a an amazing thing.

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