Finding joy in chores

By , May 16, 2010 7:43 am

Dishwasher to empty.  Laundry to fold.  Floor to sweep.  Dishes to wash.  Toilets to scrub.  Laundry to wash.

This list runs like a teleprompter in my head.  Being at home with my boys means, well… we’re home and thus the house gets dirtier faster.  In between wrangling my toddlers, I seem to always be cleaning.  I’m in a bible study with a group of other toddler moms and we were discussing how easy it is to become depressed by the situation.  Usually these tasks are just done and our family doesn’t notice that someone is doing them.  Being applauded and appreciated every minute of the day isn’t a common theme associated with staying home with the kids.

I listened to my friends encourage one another while addressing the dull and dreary of stay-at-home mom life and as the conversation lulled, I piped up, “I know that there are times when I am frustrated by the monotony of chores, but I don’t think I’ve ever been at a point where I thought I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I’m doing now.”

I continued, bouncing sweet Zeke on my knee, “I think once you have to rely on someone else to raise your kids completely, to run your household, you are always thankful for the time that you have with them.”

Pausing, I tried to word my thoughts.  How could I explain to these women, without coming off as self-righteous, what it was like to completely miss Bubba’s 18 month to two year stage?  When I deployed, he was 17-months-old, a little younger than Zeke’s age now.  I relied on my little sister and a nanny to raise him during the day and my husband to handle everything in between.

I tried to explain, “I’m transitioning Zeke to one nap right now and you’d think I’d be all over it since Bubba was transitioned at this age.  But I didn’t do that job, my little sister, the one in college without kids?  She did it.  I’ve been calling her asking her exactly what she did so that I can repeat it with Zeke.  I never want to have to have someone explain to me the stages of my child again and that’s why I don’t think I will ever regret helping them through their stages now.”

I stopped as my friends continued to talk and discuss.  It wasn’t until I was driving home that afternoon, I realized why I’d always be thankful with my current job.  It was a hard reality to call my sister for advice or completely depend on others to raise my kids, but lots of moms call for advice and employ caretakers.  I think the kicker for me was that when I deployed there was that chance that I would never come back.  When I left I knew that not returning was a possibility.

As I write this post, my dishes need washed and my laundry needs folded, but I know that I came home safe three years ago to be just the woman strong enough to do those chores.  They may not earn me any medals, but being here for my family, getting that chance to provide for them, that’s joy enough for me.

© 2010, FROM MILITARY TO MOM. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Finding joy in chores”

  1. Christy says:

    I have read this post about 8 times. . . because the first 7 I was hit with guilt for being a working mom and the choices we have made for our family. . . but I know you Alyssa and I know your heart would never mean to induce guilt. . . so I kept reading it and it finally hit me on read #8. . . . you are in a unique situation given your past career or service/deployment and the time you have spent away from your beautiful boys. I know at some point I hope to be able to only work part time, but for now and for our situation it requires that I work full-time. But I think no matter if you work outside the home or at home, you still deal with some of the monotony of chores and daily life. . . so thank you for reminding me to be thankful for the everyday, nonstop, neverending work, chores and home life that I have.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Christy- I’m so glad you commented. This post is definitely not directed at moms that have no other choice but to work outside of the home and provide for their families. That is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. What I don’t understand are the feelings of inadequacy I hear from stay-at-home moms, that their job isn’t important because they are “just at home.” Sure, staying at home with my kiddos can feel like I’ve signed on for professional dishwasher/laundry folder, but I think that, as you and I know, the time we do get at home is precious.

  3. Christy says:

    I think moms that feel that way are typically ones that have always been at home with their kids. . . .I think having the perspective of being away from your kids and then being home with them (or vice versa as in our case) causes you to see things differently. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. . .love reading your blog!

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