Living the Life of Riley

20Nov07

Why do so many people think that life is so easy if you’re a stay-at-home-mom? People think you’re sitting around, watching soaps, eating Devil Dogs and getting fat. They think you get to sleep as much as you want (sleep late, take naps, that type of thing).

I wish someone had told me the truth.

I had visions…maybe not the soaps and Devil Dogs part, but of something nice cooking on the stove (maybe stew or homemade soup) while I curl up on the couch and read books to baby. Of course, in my dream, the house is spotless and there’s no dog hair tumbleweed in the corners.

Nobody told me.

They didn’t mention that your house stays dirty because you’re in it more. Or that if you want to get anything done (cooking, laundry, bills) or just time to yourself (say, to blog), you’ve got to wake up at 6:30am. Napping is out of the question.

In order to keep BabyBoodle happy, challenged and engaged, I take her out everyday. That’s on top of the 7 hours of therapy she gets a week. We make heavy use of the local libraries, rec centers, parks, free programs, etc.

Notice I used the word “free.” This word has become a very important fixture in my life. That’s because being a SAHM means there’s no money. No, really, there’s no money. So that means that we haven’t shopped for new clothes or shoes for us; I use coupons as much as I can; I don’t get my hair done at a salon; we don’t subscribe to magazines and have cut back our cable; we don’t buy music (even for $.99 at iTunes) or pop into Starbucks for that latte. Decisions to buy even the basic necessities means agonizing over money. It really is like trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents. Pimping my brain out on the weekends to tutor precocious 9th graders certainly helps in the money department–it just ain’t enough.

Then of course, there are the media-inspired “mommy wars” between the stay-at-homes and the work-outsides. I’ve gotten some venom from people…attitude-laced innocuous questions about “how great it must be” to stay home with my daughter. Since I’m a black SAHM, there are huge socio-political implications…according to society, we aren’t supposed to be SAHMs. The debates and discussions involving SAHMs don’t reflect a lot of diversity (which really pisses me off). There are just different cultural implications for us and a lot more backlash.

Well, with the autism, the diet, and the therapy, it has become a necessity for me to stay home…at least until we get her back on track. Anybody who wants to see how wonderful it is to be a SAHM can switch places with me for a week. You’ll be having seizures from the latte withdrawal on day one. When you work at a job outside the home, the law states that you are required to get breaks and lunch. I get to eat standing or while I’m trying to shovel food into BabyBoodle’s mouth. That’s if she’ll actually eat. So you can deal with the food issues, juggling the therapies, driving her around town to her playdates and activities, baking her carrot muffins from scratch with rice flour (no wheat, remember!), finding more food that she will/can eat, paying bills with an almost zero balance in the checking account, shopping for food at a discount, and somehow managing to stay sane.

Yeah, living the life of Riley, is that what this is?

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