This week while grabbing more veggies and milk at Target (which doesn’t have the best deals–I prefer Aldi– but that’s where we had a gift card to, and Ibotta* gives back a little) I conversed a bit with the cashier. She thought my little girl was cute, and thankfully Threenager didn’t give her a stinkface and prove her wrong (this time).
The cashier mentioned she was new there. I said I hope she enjoys her job, and as she lifted the heavy milk jug up to hand me, I noted aloud that it included the perk of a workout. She said yeah, it’s nice, and she needs it because before that she was a stay-at-home-mom for 8 years. I interjected, “Oh, that’s what I do.” To which she replied, “It really sucks!” I paused, not sure if she meant not working out when she stayed at home, or if she was saying my profession sucks, so I asked, “Oh? What does?” “Staying at home!” She exclaimed, giving me knowing eyes and nodding her head. “It’s so boring! I didn’t get to see my friends or get out and do things!” And she had a bit more to say before I paid and left.
It seemed like she just needed to talk. So I didn’t say what I was thinking, that being a Stay-At-Home-Mom can be hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never struggled so much as I have as a mother trying to balance house duties and keeping little people alive 24-7, with hardly a moment off. I’ve been a “Messy” the first 30 years of my life, totally disorganized, and I’m not really a great cook. I was confident with caring for other people’s kids, but mine have been harder to figure out. Yet, things are improving, and this is the most meaningful thing I have invested into. I wouldn’t trade my job for any other.
And, because it would have been totally rude, I also didn’t say the saying that popped into my mind that my momma would say about the word “boring.” It goes, Only boring people get bored. I’d personally modify it to say that being bored is simply the result of a sleeping imagination.
So my heart went away sad. Sad that she was utterly discontent during those 8 years. Sad that perhaps her children hear her saying it was torture to stay at home with them. Sad that this was how my profession was being represented to a public that, generally speaking, also looks down on staying at home.
I wish that she had known how to thrive in it. Admittedly, I am still learning more about that. But I know that I do NOT think my job sucks. As for her complaints, I think there were solutions to them. The thing is, as SAHMs, complaining to the manager is…complaining to ourselves. And a wise manager can fix the issues rather than let them pile up into a big mess of get-me-outta-here.
News flash. SAHMs can have an exercise routine. A lot of gyms have childcare available. I personally use youtube videos as my workout routine since I don’t have gym membership (and don’t want one). I like Cocolime Fitness, Lucy Wyndham-Read, and Jessica Smith TV channels and videos because they are good for chronic fatigue and don’t wipe me out like the higher intensity ones would.
Being a homemaker doesn’t have to be lonely, because you can find your tribe and make your own schedule, which can and should include socializing with others who share your interests. Play dates can start by exchanging contact info with a mom and meeting up the next week at Chick-fil-a on a rainy day, and progress to the home atmosphere later on. It may not be the drinks-after-work some career women are used to, but it’s socializing. You find time for what is important to you, and if working out and friend time is important, you make it happen.
I recently read or heard that people who had life-altering injuries were followed-up with a year after their injuries to find they had returned to their former baseline happiness levels. (Which also made me think of how people who win the lottery are often much more miserable afterwards, and wish they had not won the lottery. Maybe an unmet expectations issue?) Basically, the point is that eventually, after life changes we return (or decline) to whatever level of contentment we maintain now. So my mind questions whether this new cashier job will fix the lonely cashier’s happy-o-meter.
Next time, I might be grocery shopping with a fussy kid. I might be a frustrated momma, even. But I hope even in the least ideal of circumstances, I aim to represent my profession well. I can remind myself what matters–caring for these little people, creating a loving home, and being fulfilled in a life I am choosing.
(*If you are unfamiliar with Ibotta, it’s an easier way to coupon, in a smart phone app, by simply selecting items you are going to buy from whatever store you’re going to get in advance, then scanning or photographing the receipt after you’ve purchased the items of your selection. There’s even a way to link store loyalty cards. I forget to use physical paper coupons usually, but taking a minute to scan a receipt after the hubub of the store checkout line is much easier and doable for me! Here’s a link for you to get started saving if you’re interested, and you should get a bonus for joining, maybe $10 or so. It also helps me out! After you have saved $20 you can cash out. I usually cash out with Amazon or Walmart gift cards. https://ibotta.com/r/tiasrax)