My favorite mode of transportation was walking to work. I enjoyed slowing down, seeing snakes, smelling flowers, and collecting my thoughts. Now, as a Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM), I drive our SUV when I drive and the bus is saved for a special occasion. This change is a little bewildering, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.
In 2005, I walked to work, took the bus to do errands around town, or reserved a Flex Car. I was in school, worked full time, and ventured to my evening classes. Sometimes, I would ride my bike to get around, but mostly I took the bus. I loved taking the bus. One of the reasons I own so many large bags is in part due to the bus riding I’m accustomed to. I need my planner, my phone, a book to read, a water bottle, and random toiletries to get through the day. So, my bag was my survival kit. I didn’t often bring food except for easy fruits like apples or oranges. Maybe a few snack bars, like Clif, if I’d purchase them through Trader Joe’s. I ate out a lot more then, too. Now, we eat out once a month on a good month. Then, I ate out several times a week.
How life has changed as a SAHM. So, I’m no longer in school, so the need for gargantuan bags has decreased even if the use hasn’t. We bring a small person around with us, so the contents of the bags changes. It’s gone from notes, notebooks, books for classes, research topics to diapers, snacks, and changes of clothes. We used diaper bags for a while, but the transport is mostly around a car to places that aren’t very far away. So, daily “errand bags” aren’t as necessary. And, our daily events now work around nap times. So, afternoon trips are rare. A three-year-old requires fewer packing items than an infant, so the bag has even shrunk. Although, church on Sunday requires a certain number of cars and/or books.
I am an introvert. I’ve taken those web-based Myers-Briggs tests several times. Consistently, I test as INFJ. It has some different names, ranging from Counselor to Sage, (the tests acknowledge the wisdom I have I suppose). Introverts need refresh time away from intense social interactions. Those bus rides were my time to refresh. The bus rides were my time to reflect (and sometimes nap). Getting that refresh time is very different now. Sure, if Levi and I have errands to run, we usually drive quietly and listen to some classical music pointing out the important things like the white train house. This transport, though, that was one major way in which I organized my day. And, now, I still struggle with how to organize my day.
A friend shared an article that appeared in the Washington Post three years ago. Carolyn Hax explains to a reader what Stay-At-Home-Moms do all day. I often can’t put into words the exhaustion I feel, daily. Not just physically tired, but emotionally drained. I still can’t fall asleep at night because my brain whirs with all those thoughts that pop up during the day. Hax, though, puts it wonderfully when she explains what SAHMs really do:
When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything. (Hax, Caroyln. 2007 (May 23). The Washington Post, “Tell Me About It.“
Transport. Touch. Talking. Now we drive the (paid off) gas-guzzler for our errands. One reason is for the kiddo because he can see out the windows better. We often listen to 88.9 getting in our relaxing classical music fix. I love my husband, I love my son. But, I had no idea how much parenthood and wifehood would affect my needs and where I put them. I miss my transport, I miss my bus, I miss my reading/napping time. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I miss it.