19 January 2012

Full Days

(Thank you all, dear readers, for being patient with me as I disappeared from blogland for a little over a week. I have been battling pneumonia, complicated by a couple of successive colds.  A full recovery is still in the works, but I am starting to feel a little better, so I have a moment to take to the keyboard once again.)

"Have a good day," I told my son this morning.  "Good luck on your test."

"Thanks!  Have fun knitting by yourself all day," he responded.

And that's when it occurred to me that my kids think I sit around all day.

I do not just sit around all day.  First of all, I am a practicing lawyer.  I spend a fair amount of time every day chasing down legal issues.  I recently completed a first draft of an appellate brief that will be due at the beginning of February.  The boss is reviewing it, and it's going to need a pretty good rework before it sees its second draft form.  (That's because I rushed at the end to finish the draft.  Nothing unusual.)  Legal work at home involves e-mails and phone calls, as well as a fair amount of research.  Just because I do these things in jeans and a college sweatshirt in my basement doesn't mean they're not real work.

And in between the legal work I do a variety of other things.  For example, this morning, I went to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store and had a techie untangle my iTunes account for me.  (I now have music on my laptop and phone.  Hooray!)  When I got home, I registered my oldest daughter to take the SAT in March.  This second task involved a fair amount of digging around and tearing my house apart, looking for an important piece of paper that I had put in an extremely safe place.  The safe place was so safe that I couldn't remember where it was.  When I found it, I had to create a better filing system for that particular piece of paper and all the other things that were piling up on my desk.  In the course of doing so, I found a missing passport that I had had to replace this past fall.  I also found a necklace I had been looking for for approximately a year.  (Had had.  For for.  Yes, I noticed that.)  I also had to respond to an e-mail from a former boss who has been unable to locate anything in his office since I left his employ last year.  He e-mails me occasionally, asking me to remind him where things are.  I try to be terse but not snarky, which, as you can imagine, is sort of difficult for me.

All this took a lot of time and involved absolutely no knitting.

I'm not sure why I am vaguely insulted that my son thinks I spend all my time knitting.  After all, I love to knit, and a lot of the things I make end up in his sock drawer.  That makes him pretty happy.  I do, however, want him to know that the life of a work-at-home mom is not all leisure.  There are things about it that are great:  the dog napping at my feet, the trip downtown at lunchtime to meet my friend for a bowl of soup, the shoes I am not wearing at the moment.  But there are also things about it that are tricky:  keeping track of my billable hours over the course of a very chopped-up day, avoiding personal phone calls that can eat up big chunks of time, trying to sound professional on a business call while the dryer is whirring in the background, trying to get the absolute basics covered before everyone gets home from school.  Sometimes, as happened yesterday, I realize suddenly that my husband will be home in an hour and I have not given a single thought to dinner.

Life wasn't all leisure when I was a stay-at-home mom, either.  In my first year of stay-at-homehood, my kids were three, five, and seven years old.  No, I did not work outside of the house, but I ran from dawn till dusk, transporting children to their various schools and appointments and trying to keep the house from falling down around me.  By comparison, my life today is pretty quiet.  I guess that's why I've found the time to knit at all.  It never would have been possible to knit when the children were small, because knitting requires sitting down and focusing for more than three minutes at a time.

What I am trying to say is that perceptions of the stay-at-home or work-at-home lifestyle - whether held by children or by other adults - are often quite inaccurate.  I don't commute into the city anymore, and I am grateful for that perk, especially now that the weather is cold and the afternoons are dark.  But the days at home are full, and I like them that way.

I only wish they were a little less full sometimes so that I could get a little more knitting done.  But that's what weekends are for.


Jane said...

Oh Jennie, I really enjoyed reading this post. Such an interesting insight into how you manage the WAHM routine. Do you have to go into the office at all or is everything done online? I am intrigued. J x

laxsupermom said...

Great post! As a SAHM, sometimes I think my kids pretty much assume that I spend all day eating bonbons and watching Oprah or whatever. Never mind that I volunteer at the school, and constantly have projects going on.

One day when my teen was in the doghouse, and trying to scratch his way out, he asked if he could help out while I was in the kitchen. I said that he could take a damp microfiber cloth and scrub down the cabinets. As he was standing on the counter reaching for the over the range cabs, he asked, "Is this what you do all day?" I answered in the affirmative, and he responded, "being a SAHM isn't much fun."

I wish I had more time for knitting, too. Actually I wish I had the forethought to take pics of the knitting projects that I actually completed as Christmas gifts. Thanks for sharing your experience.

jhl said...

My son said something similar to me one day, and I have an 11 month old. I explained to him that when he's not here, someone still needs to feed the baby (three meals and three snacks), change the baby's diaper, play with the baby, and get her to nap. He seemed to appreciate the job a bit more ...

I think that being a WAHM is one of the most challenging jobs there is!

Thanks for visiting ... and love your blog!