A Staying At Home Mom. Not a Stay-At-Home Mom.

I feel like there’s a difference between stay-at-home moms and moms who are home with their children. Me being the latter.

Freelance has been slow with summer here (any leads anyone?) and I’ve found myself home with the girls more often. Which is wonderful. Awesome. Fanfreakingtastic. That’s what we’re supposed to say, right?

I pass these professional moms in my neighborhood who just seem to have their crap together and their routines down (and their hair perfect and their kids bathed) and while we give each other The Kindred Stroller-Pusher Smile, I don’t feel like I’m one of them.

It has less to do with me not having a Wall Street husband and me not having a grasp on childcare basics.

I still fumble through my building’s front entrance and smash the wheel into the doorframe when I try to navigate the double stroller through. I’m terrible at getting it up stairs – I’m always that mom who kind strangers approach asking, “You need some help with that ma’am?” I forget to strap the baby in in the first place.

I’m always tearing through my diaper bag searching for [diapers, wipes, goldfish, water, crayons, binkies] and they never seem to be there. Or the ones that are there are filthy. Or broken.

Yesterday I was so proud of myself for remembering to actually grab a diaper and toss it into the stroller just in case.

It was used. Don’t ask me how that happened.

I often find myself relieved when one kid is off having a special day with a grandparent or home napping with Nate. Two are three times as exhausting. Or maybe that’s just because I make it harder on myself because I can’t get organized.

Last weekend I went to a Kung Fu Panda promotional event with both kids and (after getting in a huge fight with the Masshole who stole my parking space and coming this close to slashing his tires) was so frazzled when I arrived I didn’t even remember to get the stroller out of the car. Isn’t that like the first thing you get after the children? The stroller? So there I am carrying my 19-pound pre-walker all the way to the event, then juggling her for an entire two hours while trying to wrangle snacks for Thalia and shake hands with other parents. At least the ones who weren’t scurrying away from the sweaty mom who was offering twenty dollars if someone would just get her a beer. (Stupid kid-friendly party.)

Even after nearly 3 years of parenting experience and two kids to show for it, I think when I’m out in public with my girls I come across more as the hapless but loving sitter than the experienced mom. Even my sitter thinks so.

Do they have new parent refresher classes? Like continuing ed for moms? A GED for the breeding set? Maybe something at the Learning Annex? Someone should get on that.


55 thoughts on “A Staying At Home Mom. Not a Stay-At-Home Mom.”

  1. Oh I just want to send you a fully packed diaper bag. I don’t know what advice, that you haven’t heard and that would help, I could give. Maybe when the little one is walking it will get better. Aw screw it!! You know it only gets different.Good luck and maybe try to hide packed diaperbags everywhere. To make you feel better, I maybe the mom with a fully prepared diaperbag and stroller, but I am the mom constantly yelling at her kids to stop being heathens. It isn’t always better on the other side.

  2. If it makes you feel better, I am a stay at home mom who drops her youngest daughter off at the children’s building a church saying “I’m sorry I forgot her diaper bag this morning” and in my head saying “I can’t believe I *&$@%*^ forgot that damn bag again”

  3. I am so you. And I only have one 19-pounder to juggle, so to me you’re like Supermom. Remember that.

  4. I’m with you! I am a SAHM to one 10 month old and OMG I don’t have it together at all. I keep the diaper bag together for the most part because that bag doubles as my bag, but I wear that bag everywhere and sometimes forget I have it on. I don’t know how single moms, moms of more than one, working moms, etc. do it! My goal is to survive each day… forget keeping a clean house, fixing my hair, and so on!I live in a well-to-do area and will admit to being jealous of those with their nannies, their mornings out, and their housecleaners. *bows head in shame over being jealous*

  5. We always sniff diapers before putting them on so I have absolutely no advice to give you.I always forget something. Thank god (knock on wood) it has yet to be the kids.

  6. I am perpetually leaving the house without something. I have been known to make 3 or more trips around the block to stop in front of the house and go back in after something we just can’t do without.I’ve got twin boys so I can’t go anywhere alone without the double stroller. It pretty much just stays in the car 24/7. I bought throw away versions of a lot of stuff I need on a regular basis and keep them in the car in a box so that if I forget something I have a backup usually. I even try to keep a couple of clean sippy cups in the car. It helps if you take your dirty ones in and walk straight back out with the clean ones and put them straight in the car.If you need any tips on diaper bag packing, just email me. fetchthis@hotmail.com. I’ll help as much as I can… 🙂

  7. My only advice is to remember that you’re not alone. I was so proud of myself when I remembered to pack diapers for the two-year-old AND extra clothes and undies for the most-of-the-time-potty-trained three-year-old before venturing out to dinner and then the park the other night. It was only when the three-year-old had an accident at the park, that I realized I hadn’t packed a plastic bag to transport the poopy undies home in…they were immediately thrown in the public garbage can. Lexington Parks & Rec: I’m so sorry. At least it didn’t happen at the restaurant…not sure what I would’ve done there.

  8. I’m usually a lurker, but I have to delurk to say that the most disturbing thing about becoming a mother is how I morphed from a super organized woman to the chaotic mess I am now. I keep extra pump parts at work because I’ve forgotten something at home so many times. The only thing that has helped at all is to have routines, so that I don’t have to think too hard when I’m trying to get out the door. But that doesn’t help for the one off events.

  9. If it makes you feel any better know that lately I’ve been exactly like you (excluding the used diaper bit) but I don’t have any kids. I think sometimes we end up in a disorganised funk – for me its when I have less on than too much. Maybe thats the case for you too!

  10. I have long said that making it out of the house with 75% of the stuff we need is a good goal. I haven’t forgotten the kids yet. But I have forgotten the groceries at the checkout counter. Twice.(I kind of don’t get how you mistake a used diaper for a clean one. Maybe my kids pee more than yours.)

  11. Amen, sister. I have committed more parenting “faux-pas” (I think that sounds so much gentler and friendlier than “f*&k-ups”) than I think is actually allowed per the Department of Human Services. Let’s see, there’s the time I drove clear out of town with my baby IN his carseat, but the carseat not in any way attached to the CAR SEAT, or the time I took my oldest to his very first dr. appointment an hour away when he was 1 week old and realized I hadn’t grabbed my diaper bag, or the time I didn’t bring a diaper to the restaurant and so my husband stole a burgundy-colored cloth napkin and we took it to the car and tied it on the baby. (Sorry about that, Olive Garden.) There’s no way God should’ve entrusted me with THREE children…

  12. Ohhhh yeah. My daughter just turned one year old a couple weeks back.You’d think, having been back at work since she was 6 weeks old, that I could manage to leave her with my mom without forgetting the necessities. However, nearly every morning, my cell phone rings while I’m driving to work and I’ve forgotten something. Oh? Really? You actually <>need<> diapers? Sorry ’bout that! Socks, shoes, CLOTHES… yeah, I’ve been known to take her straight out of the crib and stick her in the car for the 10minute ride to my mom’s house. Hi mom! Baby hasn’t been fed, or changed, or new-diapered! Seeyabye! Worst daughter/mommy ever!

  13. You are not alone. I’ve taken to telling folks that I got a lobotomy at the same time I had the c-section. No advice to give because if I had some, I should be listening to it myself, and obviously that’s not happening! Oh, and I would have gotten you that beer for free. 🙂

  14. no advice to give, I always say bye to the work folk only to ALWAYS come back because I have forgotten the keys to my car….Help me lOrd when I have 2

  15. i always feel this way !! always. i look around and i feel as if other mom’s are having conversations with each other all calm. i am there looking and yelling at my kids don’t touch, stop that…etc. i swear i must look like a crazy lady !!

  16. I’m totally that mom you described. I’m the one to whom everyone says, “Don’t you know how that happens?” Perhaps b/c I’m perpetually pregnant while balancing a 19 lb pre-walker on my non-existent hip. (#4 is on it’s way and #3 is 13 months of disinterest in mobility.) I will say that 2 gets easier when #2 turns 2. I’m scared that 4 gets easier when #4 turns 4, etc. Oh well, they will have each other when I go off the deep end.

  17. I was always sure that I would be the mom who did a John Goodman in Raising Arizona and left the baby on the roof of the car. I never did, but when my twins were small(er), I was ALWAYS leaving the house without at least one essential item–diapers, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, toys, toothbrushes for overnights, shoes and jackets (after putting the girls in pjs for the Friday-night drive to friends or family)…you name it, I forgot it more times than I care to admit. Still do. It took a ridiculous number of potty-training mishaps and sugar-crash tantrums for me to learn that I still can’t leave the house without spare underwear (for them, not me) and snacks (for everyone). Oh well.

  18. I’m guess one of the organized ones (although I didn’t realize it until I read everyone’s comments, so thanks!) but I’m still only half mentally with-it when I’m out with both the kids. It is so not worth it to try to have conversations with adults when my toddler is around. Here’s one good trick, inspired by Erin’s kid’s poopy undies: pack the emergency clothes in a ziploc bag. Then, if you need them, you can use the bag for the sloppy stuff. Ta-dah!

  19. “I’m guess one?”SEE how I only have part of a brain? And my toddler is not even home right now, sheesh.That’s karma’s way of saying don’t be so proud of your little tricks, beyotch. Ok, gotcha.

  20. You could be speaking of me in this post. My husband, who stays at home with the kids, is so much more adept at caring for them than I am. I fumble, drop, and forget things all the time (thankfully I haven’t forgotten any of the kids anywhere yet). I do insist on keeping the kids clean when we’re out in public so they start out clean but the cleanliness never lasts very long. ((sigh)) I hope I’ll get better as they get older!Oh, do you do freelance web design? If so, are you reasonable? I’m looking for someone to design an online store for me (Sparkle and Charm boutique). Also, I can’t help but be a proud foster mama and say that I have some very cute pictures of Baby Bug in a tutu posted today, if you’d like to stop by and take a look. 🙂

  21. Dude, I’m one of those SAHM, no wait – am I a WAHM? I can never keep it straight – but whatever it is, if I remember to pack a diaper (clean or otherwise), I high-five myself. I get a gold star if I don’t leave the kid on the subway.

  22. Well you must have your shit together because I found your blog via a mailing from Similac! I have been a SAHM since the birth of my daughter in 2003, and it gets much better once they are out of diapers. I love being able to just get up and go with them. Which will be ending for me soon though, I am expecting twins and will be back in the diaper mode…it is going to get ugly at my house!Hang in there!

  23. I’m dying laughing here….“when I’m out in public with my girls I come across more as the hapless but loving sitter than the experienced mom. Even my sitter thinks so.” That’s rich, very rich! And I feel that way too sometimes!Oh, and lugging around a “pre-walker” (great term fellow commenter) I have to tell you that because of poor planning I’ve had to do this way more than once with 20 pound Danny. On the bright side my biceps and triceps are pretty strong now, but unfortunately more in that sort of “Incredible Hulk shirt sleeves exploding” kind of way. Definitely not sculpted. Sigh…-Monica

  24. I have to get in here early! I think this will push me to the bottom..oh honey, I was in the background of Vegas. No biggie. If I had had a line or something I would have definitely notified you:)xoxox

  25. This makes me happy that I underfed my kids until they could walk on their own (kidding!).You should see me trying to go food shopping with the three. It’s like trying to wrangle hungry monkeys. The one thing I always have are diapers though. I guess after 7+ years of having someone in diapers, I will probably finally potty train my son and then be old enough to need them for myself.

  26. I can’t remember ever having enough stuff in my diaper bag.Something always happens that you did not plan for.

  27. I do OK when it comes to taking the girls out. But inside our house? It looks like a bomb went off. I’m too tired to care about housework anymore. And the TV is on far more than I’d care to admit. There has to be some secret flaw to those polished moms. Because while I can hold my own out in public, I certainly don’t make it look easy.

  28. I too am the mum with the double stroller crashing into every door frame she goes through. I don’t make it to appointments on time but my diaper bag is always packed … in fact it is sooooo packed that we could survive out of it for a week. That would be my other flaw.

  29. I almost never comment on your blog because all I can ever think to say is amen, but, uh…amen.(And I am going to email you re: freelance work)

  30. I used to be (and still like to think of myself as) the kind of person who loved organized bags. My briefcase has about two hundred little pockets, all with their designated item. My diaper bag? Hahahaha. On the last outing, I did manage to remember to throw in a newborn sized diaper, but what else did I find? Dried out wipes, stale goldfish crackers, and a box of raisins dating back many, many moons.

  31. I always have a packed (overly so) diaper bag. However, I am also screaming at my kids, tugging at my clothes, tucking away stray strands of hair that didn’t make it into the ponytail holder, and griping that we’re late. Plus lugging the heavy as an anvil damn diaper bag that has more supplies than I’d use in a week. I never have coiffed hair or manicured hands. I was miserable with the double stroller and finally gave it up and just made my older son walk. People have asked me on more than one occasion if I’m the nanny.Glad to know the freelance thing isn’t just dry down here!

  32. I’ll try not to hold it against you that you referred to the term “Masshole” when describing some jerk who self righteously well… acted like….. he was a…… Massachusetts driver- okay okay okay- fine! So we have some stinky people! I get it!Okay, anyways- what I wanted to say is that so often when I’m out with both kids who are now verging on 8 and 3, I feel like people are like, “lady, get your SHIT together”! matter how many “okay you two… this is what I expect from you today” laying down of the rules I give them, something always goes awry. So, if you find some kind of parenting refresher course in the near future… please let this Masshole know so she can join you 😉

  33. Kat, he did have a Massachusetts license plate. I wasn’t making it up! He was a real live Masshole.

  34. Hey, I believe it! Even I, with my “lifelong resident” status scream at the jerks who insist on riding my bumper even though I KNOW they can clearly see the backs of my curly headed children… “get off my tail MASSHOLE!”Why do people tailgate people with children?Oh- I know… because they’re Massholes.Is there a name for crazy New Yorkers? 😉 Just wondering…

  35. Being overly worried as I was about forgetting the least little thing, my diaper bags took on epic proportions. I finally started taking a backpack because of the weight issues to one side of my body. Extra clothes for the baby who power-vomited. Toys/books/pacifiers. Goldfish. Blanket. Bottles. Diapers and wipes. I was ready for floods, tornadoes and a possible food shortage. You and are are two extremes on the spectrum and we both need help.

  36. Backpack… I’m well on my way, if I thought I could get by with it. But stores around here are nazis about people wearing backpacks and I feel like I’m already pushing it with the diaper bag.

  37. Try and imagine all those feelings added to the feeling that you frighten most of the moms because you are, OH MY GOD NO, a man. Of course being a sahd, most people expect my kids and I to be a mess, so the pressure is off a little there.

  38. Didn’t you know, kids thrive on benign neglect. Mine did 🙂 I used to forget the diaper bag in restaurants on a regular basis, although I was pretty good about packing enough stuff. Except this one time when Douglas was one and we were flying home from Europe. Our connection was delayed . So naturally he started running through his clothes and diapers at an alarming rate. If you know what I mean.Did you know that they sell just about anything you might want in the Zurich airport. Except disposable diapers. We *just* made it home.

  39. I swear I had it more together when I worked outside the home for a year. My hair was done, my clothes were nice and my kids were well fed. When we did go out they had a fully stocked diaper bag or at the very least a change of clothes in the car. Now, I look like a schlub most of the time with a frizzy ponytail, and clothes that don’t quite work well on me….You are not alone!

  40. I will always feel like everyone can tell I don’t have it together. You’re not alone. =)

  41. I suspect a lot of those ‘professional moms’ aren’t as together as you think they are. Really. I suspect I come across that way to many… people have said as much, including this morning when a friend told me I always seem so calm and relaxed and make having 2 seem so easy. I laughed and told her I saved all my yelling for at home.

  42. Control is a pretty, shiny illusion. The day you see the got-it-together mom may be her best day. By the time you figure out the diaper bag, you’ll be wondering how you got to the soccer field with only one cleat.

  43. I’m one of those professional moms who you think has their stuff together and let me tell you, I don’t feel like I have my shit together at all!!! I feel like I’m constantly juggling and it’s taking all I have to not drop anything and have it all hit me in the head! I think that moms like you have it all together and I admire you so much!

  44. my diaper bag(well backpack) is usually packed enough, but i so don’t have it together…so here is a confession i never even told my husband about…I’m a nurse, one night after i got out of work I stopped at the 24 hr hour grocery store,(about midnight) ran in, shopped, and in the check out line can’t find my keys to give them the little scan card thing. figure i must have left my keys in the car. I get out to my car to find it running! I left my car running the entire time i was in the store, and it was still there! yeah-so not proud!

  45. Here’s the truth: it gets better when the kids can pack their own stuff. It’s lovely. I just announce, “We’re leaving!” and they scurry around gathering all the stuff that will make the car ride bearable. Now, they do often forget the piano books or sparring gear or drumsticks or whatever they need when we arrive at our destination, so the piano teacher/sensai/band teacher rolls her eyes at me. But, we always have snacks.

  46. I keep a typed up daiper bag inventory list in the pocket of our daiper bag and have made it our babysitter’s responsibility to keep it stocked. This has worked much better than our usual out-the-door “check and run” forgetting at least half the stuff we’ll need!

  47. I hear you! Boy do I hear you!It took me five years of having kids in our local school before I felt like anything but a clown or an impostor when I walked in there.My kids are 14, 12 and 9 and I still feel incompetent about my organizational skills in the parenting arena. Truth is, us artistic types (I’m a writer of fiction and non fiction) often find organization hard. Our brain just doesn’t function that way.I have beat myself up for so many years about my kids wearing dirty clothes or getting their signed forms in late, and now I’ve mostly made peace with it. Mainly, it’s because I am old and wise enough by now (!) not to care what other people think. I am still envious of how easy other mothers make it look, but I know that I’m not those women and never will be.Funnily enough, and maybe you’re like me in this, I’m very organized and intense with my work. I have my own little hare- brained systems, but I am never late or sloppy when it comes to writing deadlines. I published a book and have a second novel almost done — by GOD it’s taken me more than a decade, but mothers are nothing if not persistent!In my book I write about a turning point I had after a particularly challenging year when I realized my new mantra was: YOU DO THE BEST YOU CAN. That’s really all we can expect of ourselves!Katrinco-author, Mothers Need Time Outs, Toohttp://www.momstimeouts.com

  48. I seriously feel like this will be me! :O Sometimes I just feel a bit awkward with kids… EEK!Good luck – you can do it!! Sounds like you are doing a great job at trying and for some it’s natural, and others… it’s a whole new world and a whole new playing field.. keep on trucking on and bumping into walls. ;P I’m sure you’ll figure it out soon. http://themyrons.eachday.com

  49. I had to take LittleBrother, 6 months, to a bridal shower yesterday. And he had his first black eye because he whacked it off a toy. And I just. felt. horrible.so, I so get this.

  50. Stumbling upon and reading blogs like this have finally made me fully understand why my mother, who once upon a time wanted five children, decided that two girls were plenty and stopped there. I’m told we were good kids, though, so thank God for that at least.The fact that she has just one more year before I’m legally out of her hair is probably encouraging, too, but my drama queen of a sister is the needier one, so who knows.

  51. oh my dear…i can barely take care of myself, i can’t imagine how any of you manage children.i’m the one who managed to open a door, and crack myself in the head with it. also, once? in jumping out of an elevated suv with a backpack over a shoulder, i managed to shut the backpack in the locked door so i was hanging suspended, and trapped, from the locked door of the suburban, with my keys on the ground under me. my moments are many, and there’s almost always witnesses so rejoice that you are way more together than i am – and you have the-kids-are-driving-me-mad excuse that i would totally use if i could.

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