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What Do You DO All Day?

My work is demanding, relentless, unreasonable...and truly impossible to get just right. Still, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

By Robyn ReischPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Third Place in A Day in the Life Challenge
Photo Credit: Eleni Thayer Photography https://www.elenithayerphotography.com/

My job is a strange one for sure.

I have peed with my boss sitting on my lap. I've shared my body with another human being. I have milked myself.

When I disclose what I do, I'm met with approval, jealousy, pity, or - my least favorite response - dismissive condescension.

My job is classic, but it's also polarizing. I've been accused of being anti-feminist (completely untrue), lazy (wildly false), and privileged (yes - and it's a privilege I sincerely wish everyone had access to).

At the root of these criticisms is a profound misunderstanding of what exactly it is that I do.

It's a heavy responsibility, a relentless challenge, and the greatest honor I will ever know.

No doubt you have guessed it by now. 

I am a stay-at-home mother.

Ask me what I do all day - I dare you.

I teach my children kindness and compassion. I foster intellectual curiosity. I bring them out into the world, and I teach them to live in it responsibly. This sounds like lofty, high-level work - and it is. Like all great things, however, it is only accomplished through endless mundane tasks.

Little by little, we mothers are doing our best to build a better generation.

I've made ten thousand sandwiches. I've helped with hundreds of worksheets and performed thousands of bedtime routines. I've changed millions of diapers. I've shaped behavior with time-outs and serious talks, positive examples and gentle encouragement, crushing punishments and jubilant rewards.

I've played seventy billion and six games of peek-a-boo - and that was just this morning.

Then, just when I start to fear I might die of boredom, motherhood reveals another facet: unpredictability.

I've cradled my toddler in a hospital bed as she battled ovarian cancer. I have watched my priorities shift, as my life was paused and that most important thing became my only important thing for awhile. I sighed with relief when my days returned to more tedious routines - dance class, groceries, pregnancy checkups, the post office...

An ovary down, but homeward bound!

Still, as my healthy girl charged through the gates of her preschool, I somehow missed the warmth of that cramped toddler bed - IV hookups and all.

I've worked through the night more times than I can count. I've cried from exhaustion, relief, and feelings of overwhelm. I've wept from all three of these in the same moment. I've sat with other mothers as they did the same.

As Elizabeth Stone once wrote, "Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." I've never heard a better description. I felt it when my son was bullied on the playground, and when he learned to read. I feel it every time my baby falls down and his bottom lip starts to shake. I feel it when my daughter hugs her dad.

I've felt it when other mothers lost their children - an ache I hope never to truly understand. From a childhood friend to a refugee on the news, we are all the same in that moment of profound vulnerability. 

After all, I am my children's guide through the cycle of life. I take them through the birth of their baby brother and the death of their beloved dog. I introduce them to the mystery of life. We stand in awe of it together.

The truth is, I don't know much more about it than they do.

They say not to lose yourself in motherhood. Respectfully, I disagree. Try as you might, your old identity is gone when you birth your first child. We are broken. We are rearranged. We are molded into something new, greater, stronger than we ever could have imagined. It's impossible not to lose yourself in motherhood - or in anything else that matters so, so much. 

Let it happen. Fall into the void.

Then, build up your identity anew - forever entangled with these precious new ones.

The result of a joyful workday - not pictured: clean-up, arguments over sprinkles, and the bedtime sugar high!


About the Creator

Robyn Reisch

Robyn Reisch spends her days cooking, writing, and raising three gorgeous little hooligans. She is married to the world's greatest man.

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  • test2 years ago

    Go for it!

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