By Jamie Finn of Foster the Family
Let me paint a picture for you right now. It’s 2:45 on Friday afternoon. I’m sitting by myself in a Mexican restaurant with some nachos and a Sixpoint Resin (the greatest of all beers), waiting for my fish tacos. Not one person in this place speaks English, the tables are sticky, Spanish music is blasting from the TV at a volume of about 75, and I am living. the. life.
Pre-kids me would’ve looked at the sad, lonely lady eating at a dump (with magical Mexican food) and felt bad for her. Post-kids me is like, oh yeah, turn up that “Borro Cassette” and let me enjoy my food in peace.
What is a SAHM (stay-at-home mom for those who don’t frequent mommy blogs or have a penchant for annoying acronyms) of four littles doing at a restaurant by herself in the middle of the day? I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I am unapologetically running out the last hour of the clock on my babysitter.
Today’s doctor’s appointment took a miraculous 15 minutes. Add on an unusually small Target shopping list and a never-before-seen lack of crowds and lines at Trader Joe’s, and my list of errands stack up an hour shorter than the appointed four hour time slot I planned (and paid for). So here’s a little list of things that are happening at this moment that have never happened before in the history of my 31 years:
I am eating at a restaurant alone. I am drinking a beer at 2:45 pm. I am sitting like a fugitive of the law, wondering if I’ll admit to my babysitter and/or husband what I did from 2:45-3:45 this day (I already took a picture to send to my husband, but I figured it’s better played if I send it to him afterwards, like, “Can you believe I did that?” as if it was some past temporary lapse of judgment rather than something I am currently reveling in).
**They just brought out my two fish tacos. Excuse me for a moment.**
Today’s escapades are not the typical use of my Friday afternoon. So let’s step aside from the mid-day beer and the fish tacos and view this as the thought out, intentional decision my husband and I made to spend $50 a week to save my SAHM-hood.
My daughter was the first grandchild/niece on both sides. Two grandmothers and multiple aunts/uncles meant that I NEVER paid for a babysitter once in my daughter’s first six years of life. Enter other grandchildren, my brood constantly growing, and kids’ activities and appointments times four, and I started to feel the strain. I took all my kids to exactly ONE doctor’s appointment before I decided I was never doing it again. This is when I made the uncharacteristic decision to pay a babysitter to give me one afternoon of freedom each week.
**Guys, I just got a slice of tiramisu. I don’t even know who I am anymore. Please excuse.**
Here’s how I spend my glorious four hours of “I can schedule anything in this free period and get anything done without four children hanging on me”:
- Eating Mexican and drinking a beer in the middle of the day at a restaurant. By myself. Oh wait, I already covered that.
- Going to the doctor myself. “Hey, kids, keep watching Veggie Tales. Mommy’s almost done with her pap smear.”
- Taking one of my kids to the doctor without wrangling all the other kids along. If you bring extra kids to the doctor, be prepared to walk out sweating and hating everyone.
- Shopping without crying, fighting, biting, complaining, chasing, threatening, and overbuying. I swear, when I turn my head, my kids smuggle crap into the cart. As I unpack my bags at home, I find six bags of goldfish and two Elsa Barbies that I’m 75% sure I didn’t know I was buying.
- Christmas and birthday shopping without the recipient watching what I put in the cart. My husband grew up thinking that his mom bought his Christmas presents, stored them in her room, wrapped them, and then Santa somehow snuck in and re-delivered them. I’m embarrassed for him, and I refuse for my children to repeat this foolishness.
- Picking up books from the library. Read: quiet zone. My circus troupe (which is what even my seven-year-old has taken to calling us) doesn’t do quiet zones.
- Making returns. Taking a stroll through the magical aisles of Target is one thing. The buckling, unbuckling, stroller assembling, hand holding, waiting, shushing, crying-because-we-left-the-store-without-buying-anything, and repeating of this process make the “returns” trip the most dreaded of all the trips.
- Having lunch or coffee with that person you just can’t connect with at other times. When Father’s Day is about to roll around and I still haven’t taken my dad out for the lunch I promised him last Father’s Day, this takes priority in my Friday afternoon slot.
- Making copies, planning events, and accomplishing other tasks for responsibilities I have outside the home. Because, oh yeah, besides being a mom, I’m a person.
Really, my $50 a week buys me the lack of stress involved in coordinating babysitters, figuring out when I’ll fit things in, and generally running life for six humans. My $50 a week buys me four hours that I can look to all week and know are just mine. My $50 a week buys me a sane, doable, happy stay-at-home mom-hood.
This post was originally published on Foster the Family.
About the Author
Jamie is a bio mom to two kiddos, foster/”definitely-for-now-maybe-forever”/pre-adoptive mom to two littles, and short-term foster mom to whichever baby needs a home this week. The 4+ kids in and out of her home make for some light-heart musings and some heavier broodings on her blog, Foster the Family and as a contributor to the Huffington Post.