I stay at home, all day, every day. Most days I have no car. Almost every day I have no money to spend on anything besides groceries. So, almost all of our time is spent at home.
I get to see the sun rise up slowly over the mountains every morning. I get to see the leaves on the big tree in the front yard become illuminated from behind with the gold glow of the morning. I hear the rumbles of the motorcycles that are on their way to Blood Mountain, and the crunch of tires on the rock driveway when my father in law returns from an errand. I watch the dogs run in the backyard and see the cat turn in a circle upside down before her eyes close in tight slits for a nap. I’m here waiting when Jeff comes home for lunch and when he comes home at the end of the day.
I am not only the primary caregiver to the children but almost to the point of being the only one. When Jeff gets home he is tired from working so hard all day and he almost always has a chore that needs to be done before bedtime. I don’t get time to exercise. I don’t get time to take long bubble baths. I don’t ever get to leave in the evenings and drive to a bookstore and spend a precious couple of hours perusing through books. I make every meal for the kids, change all of Jamie’s diapers, attend all of Faith’s urgent potty times, give the baths, wipe the hands, wrestle dangerous tiny objects from Jamie’s grasp, try to rationalize with Faith about everything, struggle with naptimes, rush to every cry, and the only time I can shower or read at my own leisure is after they have gone to sleep and usually by that time I am exhausted.
I am the one who spends my days on the floor playing dolls or building blocks or reading books. I am the one who dances in the living room with the kids or makes monster sounds and chases Faith through every room before finally grabbing her and making monching sounds on her belly. I am the one who gets to rock James to sleep every day and night. I am the one that they want when they are hurt or sad. It is my arms that they run into, my lap that they crawl on. When we’re around other people James will twist up his face when he sees me and can’t get to me. It is to me that everyone looks to when Faith comes up with one of her Faith-isms that they need to have translated. I am the one that they seek out and climb on and laugh with every single day.
I don’t make any money. I have no recognition for my work. I don’t get raises or reviews or a pat on the back when a job is well done. I don’t get to gab with girls at the office or hear any daily gossip. I don’t get to be challenged intellectually or test myself or see what my own boundaries are. I don’t get to have a drive home where I can think to myself that I did a great job that day. I don’t get to come home after a long day of work and kick off my shoes and lean back and relax for an hour. I don’t ever pick up my purse and head to the movies or out shopping just because. I don’t meet co-workers or friends after work and talk about my day. I hardly talk to anyone besides my family members.
I was there for Faith’s first steps and was the one who got to see Jamie’s last week. I heard Faith’s first words, and will be there when James says his. I’ve taken care of them through every sickness, and have been there for every doctor appointment. I’ve been there every day through every phase. I got to see all of those sweet and rare moments that get hidden throughout the day; seeing Faith playing when she thinks no one is watching, or James smiling up at me with sleepy eyes right before falling forward onto my shoulder for naptime. I get the reward of knowing that the next morning they will wake up happy, like they do every day, and that I will have hours of un-interrupted time with them.