I spent a long time in school and working before I became a stay at home mom. And now I work, but still at home and aside from the Big Brother lady with the cane from DHS, I am my own boss. Which is nice. But what I really miss about not working in the world is the feedback. Like, in school, you get grades and they provide feedback for how you did. And when you work, you have evaluations. And paychecks and sometimes bonuses. But when you stay at home with your kids or have a home daycare, there isn’t a whole lot of feedback.
Okay, I have to take that back – there isn’t a lot of positive feedback. I certainly know when I accidentally put milk into someone’s cup instead of juice because they tell me in a very shrill voice while throwing the cup on the floor. Or if I help someone put their sock on and it feels funny on their toes, I know they will immediately dissolve into a puddle of tantrums on the floor until I fix it – and that, too, is feedback.
Yesterday, Wyatt was playing in his Exersaucer. He was having a great time, jumping up and down and turning in circles. When he started to get fussy, I pulled him out and went through the usual checklist – he wasn’t tired and I knew he couldn’t be hungry so I tried the diaper change. As I pulled off his little pajama outfit, I found a surprise. Apparently, a few little turds had somehow escaped his diaper and slid down his leg. And then he jumped and turned in circles for twenty minutes. It was not a good surprise. But despite the fact that I had four other kids to take care of, I didn’t panic. I got to work, wiping him clean and changing his outfit and rinsing out the remains of the surprise. And when he was all clean and smelling fresh as a daisy (well, not quite…) I looked around. I know what I was looking for - I wanted someone to tell me that I had done a good job or give me a badge or hand me a brownie. But that didn’t happen.
Does life set us up for this letdown? We spend two decades getting rewards for everything we do – in school we got the coveted scratch-and-sniff stickers, and then there were trophies for playing baseball even if you never actually hit the ball once the whole season, and good grades for studying and it just kept going. But now I do what I think is a really important job and some days the only feedback I get is someone asking for more little smokies at lunch.
Do you think the economic stimulus package includes bonuses for stay-at-home moms?