So how does a feminist, at-home mom answer the question: What do you do?

I hate that question!

And I hate that I hate it.

Unless you’ve spent some time (more than a month) at home managing things and people, you can’t imagine how the following realities can possibly be true.

When I say that I am a part-time free-lance photographer, I usually gets responses of  “Oh, cool” or “Oh wow” and just slightly impressed gazes.  I know what they are thinking when I say I am also an at-home mom.  I am an out-of-work-highly-skilled-workaholic-manager who hasn’t been able to transfer that skill to home and doesn’t have another job.

It’s true.  My many failings as a house-keeper are evident to anyone who spends more than a few minutes in my home.  I sometimes take images for others, and get paid.  Others I donate my time to like Our Lives magazine (I did this cover and usually have something in every issue. But most of the time my photography is for my own pleasure.  I spend my days super busy and yet at the end of the day I have usually (not always) not made a cent and quite the opposite have undoubtedly helped the economy along.

How do I spend my days?  What’s currently going on … ?

I spend a lot of time and even more soul energy, advocating for my children in the public school system.

When I am on my game I spend quite a good amount of time studying the Bible.  (I can’t take anyone’s word for it any more when it comes to my faith and understanding of things in the Bible.)

My yard is sorely neglected but it is beautiful and has a garden (providing amazing tomatoes, banana peppers, leeks and carrots, Bok Choy, and beans and different herbs.  I am an on again, off again composter but I mow my own yard and sometimes my aging neighbor’s.

My eight year old has — count them — eight cavities and will see the dentist four times this month, along with an orthodontist.   He has the unfortunate combination of: loves sugar, bad hygiene habits, and simply has bad teeth.  He also needs an appointment with an Audiologist, and a Psychologist, and I’m late signing him up for speech therapy/tutoring he receives twice weekly through the UW. I want to sign him up for football, because soccer was not his sport and with his auditory and focus challenges and issues, I think catch the ball and run will be right up his alley.  His IEP will be written at the first of October.  I need to contact a disability rights advocacy group, and figure out how to get his IEP working for him with or without that group, and check in weekly with the teachers, working on things at home.

It’s no wonder my eleven year old thinks she never gets my attention and she has started speaking stridently about e v e r y t h i n g.  (At least I hope that’s why she’s so exercised about every little thing.) It’s absolutely not true about my time, but I do have a lot going on with Jacob.

My middle child is creative and happily goes about his movie making, hoping to slip under the radar.  But he needs daily help with reading and homework whether he wants it or not.

My mother is 72 and although living independently we are beginning to have conversations about managing life.  She has two doctor appointments that I will attend and will require follow-up.  She’s broken her shoulder and so I do her laundry, fetch things, shop and visit daily.  I aim for daily at least.  Now I think she is ready to look into continued living facilities and has asked me to help her find them and go to appointments.  That will happen after she gets out of the assisted facility she is in for her rehab.

I got the physicals done thankfully, with shots for Emma going into Middle School and they asked my kid, like they have for … nine or ten years, … DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE A FIRE SAFETY PLAN?  NO, No, for the last bloody time we don’t and probably never will!!!!!!!!!!  Lingering Guilt…  My advice in a fire is run!

I can’t seem to stay on top of my daughter’s soccer schedule and commitments, because we missed a seemingly innocuous parent meeting: I didn’t go and Tom didn’t get out of the car. And that’s all I’ll say about it, but she has two practices a week and a game which my husband helps to chauffeur,  for which I am grateful.

Speaking of husbands, I have a book at Borders recommended by a good friend, The Passionate Marriage (by David Schnark) which I haven’t had time to pick it up much less read, or work on that passion!  But I am hungry for connection with my husband, because we have reached those dangerous years when we are so busy “doing” for the kids that we hardly touch base.  The main time we see one another is 6:00 pm daily when we eat dinner as a family.

I am 14 months into my recovery from alcohol addiction and this recovery takes work – time and energy, energy and time.  I missed my Alcohol counseling appointment this month because it was the only day we had free to use already purchased tickets to Noah’s Ark, which we had been rained out of twice already, and the summer was over in a week.  But I haven’t even had time to do my Step 2 homework, so although I need to go, I’m not ready.

Every strain of life seems to be leading back to nutrition and health, with Jacob’s sugar fixation, Tom and I feeling lethargic and being over weight, my kids being a bit chubby, my high cholesterol, etc, etc.  I barely make it to the store, or to cook meals, much less read the 300 page book on Family Nutrition.  Even if I skimmed it I just want to sit down and  …. sigh.

I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in a year, but did recently and have confirmed TMJ and need to schedule with a specialist.  Any surprise that I grind my teeth at night?  Some mornings I wake up with headache reminiscent of my old hangovers and my jaw pops all day long.  The dentist recommends I quit chewing gum, the same gum that I was chewing so that I could quit smoking.  Sore jaw or smoking withdrawal.  Hm….. Life is full of choices.

I had skin cancer last year and need a followup appointment, my doctor moved, so I have to get a new doctor, and a new appointment.  I have moles that are looking strange, but it will likely be winter before I get to it.

My neighbors have apples that need picking, free for the taking, but I keep buying them at the store because I don’t have time to go pick them.

When all is said and done (or undone) I will go pick an apple, breathe, and rethink whether it matters what my dentist, or anyone else, thinks about what I do all day?

Everyone’s life is full of challenge and we may or may not get to it all.   I go to bed night after night with my to do list still swirling around undone.  But big picture, this is exactly the right job for me, for now, for today, for this moment.

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