Before I became a “homemaker” (actually, a home maintainer might be more accurate or even a home de-constructionist based on the state of things around here), I worked in the corporate world for many years. Advertising, publishing, retail, financial services, private equity – I worked in them all. My job titles ranged from Ad Specialist (person who did what no one else at the agency wanted to do) to Managing Director of Operations and Administration (den mother to a bunch of adult men who did not know how to play nice together).
My stay-at-home life is not much different from my corporate one. I am still expected to listen to multiple people at one time and do all the things they request of me simultaneously. I still find things for other people who can’t see what’s right in front of them. I still listen to everyone’s complaints, solve their problems and settle their arguments. The biggest difference is that I can do it without having to wear pantyhose or makeup. Heck, sometimes, I don’t even have to shower.
For the most part, I don’t miss it. But every now and then, I do. Well, I don’t miss the going to the office or the politics. I miss the feedback. I miss having someone telling me I’m doing a good job and then rewarding me for it. I miss my boss telling me how valuable I am to him/her. I miss getting noticed for doing my best and more than I had, too. (Yes, I was one of those annoying co-workers. Not perfect, but always trying to be.) I miss my performance review.
As a stay-at-home mom, I often feel a lot like the refrigerator or the family car. Everyone takes for granted that you are there. As long as you are working and performing your function, no one notices you. But, the one day you are on the fritz…look, out! Then everyone notices, and it’s not pretty. Think about how you talk to your appliances when they don’t work: “Stupid refrigerator. Figures this old thing would conk out on the same day I go grocery shopping” or “I hate this damn car. I can’t wait until I can get a new one.” Okay, so maybe my family doesn’t go that far, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard someone mutter the words “old” and “get a new one” from time to time. No, with my family, it is more like this:
On a busy school day morning, I am running around getting everyone’s breakfast, packing lunches, making sure everything gets in the backpacks and everyone (including my husband) has clean socks. My husband is complaining to me about one of his students. Nic is asking me, for nearly the millionth time, why the Garfield cartoon that he read four months ago is funny. Aaron is seated at the table, looking toward the ceiling, tapping his chin.
“I could have sworn that someone said something about getting me juice. Hmmmm, who could that be?” he says as he turns toward me, gazing at me over the top of his glasses.
“Probably, the same person who has brought you every last thing since you were born and still hasn’t had their coffee yet today. So, watch it!” I snap back, feeling a little bit guilty.
That is, of course, until he replies, “I’m just asking a question, mom. It’s not like you didn’t tell me you would get five minutes ago, Geesh!”
It’s not like I really go unnoticed or am unappreciated all the time. In fact, Nic let me know just how he feels about me as a mommy the other night as he went to bed. I had sung him the song I made up for him when he was a baby, tucked in his covers, and kissed him good night.
As I walked to the bedroom door, Nic said very sweetly, “Mom, you are the best mom in the world.”
“Thanks, Nic,” I said.
I closed the door behind me, but not before I heard him say, “And, sometimes that’s true. And, sometimes that’s not.”
Yea, I really miss my performance review.