The enormous responsibilities a stay at home parent has that no one seems to really understand or grasp, hence people asking, “What do you do all day?”
If you follow me on Instagram, you know how burnt out I’ve been the past few weeks.
The problem is that I am one rotten spoiled girl. There, I said it. Jay spoils me rotten and while I am indeed spoiled, I am not a brat because I am well aware of it and am super grateful for how hands-on Jay is in the house and how much he does to make my life easier.
But this past year has been quiet different. And especially the past few months. As Jay has been getting more responsibilities at work and the house Jay is building(yes, he is literally building the house with his hands and acting as our contractor), is getting more busy, he has been a lot more MIA in the house.
Now, you can’t compare him to a normal husband, you just can’t. Every single one of my friends who know us well has told me that he is a one in a million husband. That no husbands should be compared to Jay, because that just isn’t fair since he is not like most guys.
I have only been married to one man so I don’t know how other husbands are personally, but from the words of my friends and family, he truly is unique.
Jay never stops working. He gives it his all at work and the minute he comes home, he gives it his all to make my life easier. That means cleaning up the kitchen or the house immediately upon stepping foot inside the house and greeting us, vacuuming, taking out the garbage, helping with the kids’ homework, school projects(he helps with every single one of their school projects such as presentations or science fair, I have yet to help the kids in that department), doing the laundry, sorting the laundry, folding the laundry and putting it away, then we sit and eat dinner as a family, then he helps bathe them, we pray together and puts them to bed.
One year when I came home from a New York trip he gifted me with as a surprise, the home was sparkling clean(even the back of the refrigerator was cleaned and wiped), organized, kids were happy and vibrant, they listened when I asked them to do something the first time without any complaint, all because he made this giant, impressive and beautiful chore chart that he had the kids color and he got it laminated and made into magnets, all complete with rewards point system. I asked him how it was by himself and he said, “It was fine! No big deal.”
I was hoping he’d tell me what a Hero I was, that he doesn’t know how I do it every single day, that he’ll truly appreciate everything that I do, but no. I was the one made to feel guilty thinking I should do more while he’s at work!
While my sister was visiting us from CA with her 3 little kids, my sister and I went out to lunch together and when I texted Jay asking what he was doing, he replied casually that he was at Target with all 6 kids, age 6 and under. My sister and I gasped and looked at each other because that’s something we wouldn’t even fathom of doing, and I asked him how it was going and he said, “Good? Why?” As if I was the weird one asking this question. Because to him, it was no big deal and never even dawned on him that some people might find it difficult or overwhelming.
I have so many examples but I will give one last example. He planned our wedding. Yep. My only contributions were picking out the wedding dress, approving the venue and the menu, and going with him to do cake tasting and choosing which cake flavor and design I wanted. He planned down to designing and printing our wedding invitations, finding a photographer, entertainment(piano and violin performances by our friends), MC, the program, all the way to the thank you cards.
That’s just who he is. He is the hardest working person I know, hardly gets overwhelmed even when watching numerous little kids, that he doesn’t think twice about taking them all to Target, likes to be in charge, executes, and makes it happen.
So you understand a little more just how spoiled I am. So you can understand just how hard it has been for me this past year and especially the past few months, as Jay has so many responsibilities, more than ever before, that he can’t help a lot at the house for a short while, until our house is finished.
And because I have been holding it on my own at the house, I have been so overwhelmed by it all! I thought motherhood was overwhelming before, but I am now seeing the full gravity of it all, even more clearly without Jay helping out so much.
So last week, about to start my period and moody and burnt out, I sent out a long text to a couple of my closest friends of all the responsibilities we had as a mother, that our husbands don’t ever have to worry or think about. They both agreed how true it was and I know there are exceptions, so let me know if this is also true in your household or if it’s not!
Text I sent to my girlfriends:
“I am so overwhelmed and exhausted of this whole motherhood thing. Not the kids of course, it’s never the kids. But everything else that comes with it.
Keeping track and scheduling health, dental, ortho, vision appointments at a time that works between their school/activities and your schedule, picking them up, driving them, waiting with them, then driving back. Ordering glasses, contacts, picking them up, flu shots, Kindergarten shots.
Asking and deciding which extra curricular activities the kids want to do, then researching and finding the best teachers/classes, seeing the available dates/times and trying to fit it all in a time frame that will work for everyone else in the family, then driving them and going with them, waiting, then driving them back, planning play dates, giving rides to school, or stores they need to go to and friend’s house.
1. meal planning 2. grocery shopping 3. Meal prepping 4. cooking 5. Cleaning all the mess and washing the dishes; Repeating steps #1–#5 every single day, 3 times a day for the rest of your life until the day you die.
Never ending laundry. Oh my gosh. Gathering, sorting, washing, drying, folding, putting away, all over again, almost daily, only to be caught up for 1 day until it piles up again. Having to work around everyone’s schedule first to make sure it’ll work every time I want to do anything like eat lunch with friends or appointments for myself, keeping track of when to wash all the sheets and pillowcases, cleaning the bathroom, mopping, vacuuming, washing the mirrors, windows, gathering trash for trash day, dusting off the house, cleaning spills and messes made constantly by the kids, organizing.
Scheduling and attending parent teacher conferences, going to school to watch them in plays, giving presentations, reports, science fair, Veterans Day choir, volunteering at the schools classrooms and parties, planning outings and fun activities for your family for the weekend or week nights and every Holiday, planning what to eat for those Holidays, planning every vacation by choosing location, budget, airfare, hotel, activities, food, packing.
Every time you get invited to a dinner, party, church activity, asking what you can bring then making or buying the said dish.
Researching and reading a bunch of parenting books and articles on how to discipline, chore charts, how much to give for allowance, how to set limits, curfews, consequences, rewards, attitude problems, hormonal changes, puberty. Reading these said books so you can be informed, reading or sharing some of the info to your husband or your kids.
Being their clock and also an alarm. Making sure they complete every one of their chores and reminding them over and over and over again, reminding them of the time of their extra curricular activities the day of, reminding them again 30 mins. before, then 5 mins. before, then 1 min. before, telling them to get in the car, making sure they do their homework and got it right, practicing piano, ukulele, singing, cheer, stretching. Printing out or buying music for their lessons, downloading music, measuring, ordering and paying for their uniforms.
Brushed their teeth and flossed good, is showering everyday, that they don’t have body odor, planning birthday parties, planning b-day treats or toys to hand out to class, buying b-day presents for their friends and wrapping them, figuring out/planning/buying what costume to wear for Halloween, researching and finding a photographer for a family photo, scheduling the family photo, planning the family outfit. Designing, ordering, sending out Christmas cards.
Keeping track of supplies of toilet paper, dish soap, paper towels, baby wipes, detergent, tissue paper, toothpaste, face wash, soap, body wash, shampoo & conditioner, hairbands, cotton balls, Vaseline, q-tips, coconut oil, face lotion, acne skin products, body lotion, alcohol, ointment, their shoes clothes for every season; making sure they have enough warm, cool, cold, hot clothes at every changing season and shopping for them. To make sure you don’t run out of them and constantly keeping track and keeping in stock.
Researching, reading, listening and watching about the harms of sulfate, carcinogen, fragrance, other harmful chemicals that affect the hormones and the health of the kids and buying the right products.
Researching, reading, listening and watching about gut health, prebiotics, probiotics, organic, winter and summer fruits, pectin, GMO, arsenic, grass-fed, local farms, healthy recipes, and buying the appropriate foods, beauty products, cleaning products, whenever they’re sick, tending to them and being their nurse, if they stay home, having to cancel your schedule that day to tend to them.
Making sure every child gets one on one time and feels loved, important and heard in the household, is being treated nice by their peers and they are nice to their peers, being respectful to their teachers, being kind, hard working, honest, happy, has enough social life, is stimulated mentally, caught up on school work and academics, making sure the kids are up to reading, math, spelling, Chinese, is growing up to be a good citizen to society and contributing at home, money management, stress management, anger or attitude problems, their friends are a good influence on them, listening to their drama, coming up with a solution to all their problems, answering their million questions or demands all day long, tending the dog, finding someone to watch the dog whenever you go on vacation.
Finding a babysitter if your schedule doesn’t work around everyone else’s schedule so you need to ask around and find a babysitter who can do it at the time you need, or if you are going out for a date night or you are going out at night and the husband is working.
That’s just for being a mom. Then add in your own career, hobbies, projects, deadlines, work hours, emails, phone calls, taking care of yourself(explains why I don’t eat good or skip meals or exercise or go get haircuts, nails, any self care), your social life(forget trying to find a time in between all your kids schedules that matches with another mom’s schedule full of her own kids schedules), your mental or physical health.”
I do have to give credit to Jay and many other husbands or working parents out there that do some of the above mentioned, as of course there are always exceptions, but you have to admit that majority of the above responsibilities fall on the stay at home parent, whom are statistically more often the mothers than the fathers.
I hope the working parents realize how much of a luxury and a blessing it is if your partner is a stay at home parent managing everything at home so you can focus 100% of your attention and time into your career while you are at work. The mental, emotional and physical responsibilities us stay at home parents take on is enormous. And if you run into anyone who wonders what a stay at home mom does all day? You can refer to them to this blog post.
So, is there something else I missed that we are responsible for? Is it different in your household?