Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Just at home

*** I wrote this at around 2am Monday morning because it was keeping me up. I apologize for it’s rambling nature but ongoing insomnia is making my brain a bit too fussy for editing, re writing, or coming up with a new post.

I was chatting with some people I don’t know that well this weekend and we were all sort of casually introducing ourselves to the people we didn’t know. The usual – name, occupation, church. The things I can never manage to say gracefully. No job, no church & I’m never sure if I should say First name & Last name or just First name, or the name most people know me by. You’d think name would be easy but when a large chunk of your social interaction is done online under a ‘user name’, it really can be a little challenging.

But my normal dither about how to deal with giving this basic info was quickly sidetracked by one little annoying thing someone said.

“Oh, so you just stay home?”

Now, normally I meet any and all responses to my uncertain introductions with a grain of salt. I’m not making it easy for people when I mumble vaguely about ‘working on the internet’, ‘selling stuff on etsy’, ‘this and that’, ‘haven’t found a church I feel at home in yet’, ‘raised Catholic', ‘um, Stacey…’. So I cut the responder a lot of slack. It’s hard to insult me early on in our acquaintance because I am going to shine the best light on what you said due to my own inability to be gregarious & bubbly. Probably we just misunderstood one other.


“JUST stay home?”

I spent most of the rest of the time we were together trying to decide if I was offended by that and then just how offended actually I was by it. Especially since I was leaving a bunch of  stuff undone to go and chat with these women. (Several of whom were also SAHMs and several of whom were WAHM and WOHMs. We had all the acronyms covered. I didn’t catch what the person who said it was. For all I know she is a homeschooling mother of 6 who runs her own mortgage company from her dining room table).

Later I worked out a whole speech in my head about JUST staying home.

Let me tell you what I do in between eating bon bons and getting manicures.

Mostly it is a matter of logistics.

Where is everyone? Where should they be? Where will they be later? Can they  get there on their own or transportation required? Must they be accompanied? What time will they be back?

Where is everything? Where should it be? Would it be better off somewhere else? Do we need more of it? Who was the last person to see it if it was missing? Where might they have put it? Is there a substitute available?

Food takes up most of my time.

What is for dinner? What food is in the house? What is on sale? What do we have coupons for? What is left in the budget to eat dinner out? What is for lunch? How about breakfast?

Breakfast & lunch both have limited options because I simply don’t have the time to plan any more meals. Cereal or waffles? Turkey or peanut butter sandwich? Apple or orange or grapes? Yogurt or cheese?

Planning dinners can take me the best part of Sunday because I plan a week or two at a time. How much time do I have each day to cook? Do we have TKD practice, late doctors appointment, or do I have from 4pm onwards available? What did we have last week? What is in the freezer? (I often double things & freeze half). What meat & veg is on sale?

Then I check the grocery sale fliers online. There are 3 grocery stores & Wal Mart to choose from and because they are all equally far from my house I can pretty much buy 5 things at one place, 6 at another, 9 at a third and then pop into Wal Mart for the remain stuff plus any socks, memory sticks and bath towels we might need.

But they are not all close enough to one another I can do it one trip. I have to work out what other errands might take me near which stores on what days. This affects what meals are offered what days. Martins doesn’t sell leeks, Safeway & Food Lion’s usually look slimy so I have to get leeks at Wal Mart. Wal Mart also has the best price on V8 Fusion juice. But Martin’s is having a sale on peanut butter & with that price & a doubled coupon I end up with 4 jars of Skippy natural for $1.58 total.  Safeway is the only place that sells the brand of wholegrain & multigrain waffles that I like to feed the boys and that brand is cheaper than any of the other brands. Plus Safeway usually has the best price on milk & eggs.

This isn’t knowledge gained from a glance at a newspaper. It comes from years of study and hands on experience. I don’t just know that juice is $2.99 a bottle at Wal Mart. I know that it is 4.7 cents an ounce and that I what I compare by. Me and a calculator work the sale flyers to determine if a sale at Safeway is really cheaper than a regular price at Wal Mart. (because Wal Mart often sells things in different sized packages so you have to break it down to ounces or other individual units, and I know this from long observations during actual shopping, often with small children in tow, not from reading People while getting my nails done) 

Do you know how many cans of whole tomatoes you have? I do. I know if I need to stock up on them during Food Lion’s sale or just get a couple to replace what I am going to use making beef ragu this week (Short ribs are on sale at Martins. They are the main ragu ingredient but their canned whole tomatoes cost too much)

And so it goes all week long. I don’t make much money, if any some weeks, so I have time that I can use instead to make the money we have go further.

Bon bons & manicures cost money.

I can’t afford them because I just stay home.


While reciting this tirade I realized I am a bit whacked about the shopping. In my defense it sounds way more involved than it actually is and I really enjoy the challenge of hunting & gathering food for our meals.


TooManyHats said...

I would have just said, "I know I am sooooo blessed/lucky!" and been done with her. The truth is I do feel completely special being able to just stay home with ALL that entails which never seems to include bon-bons or manicures or even soap operas while I eat lunch.

Cheri A. said...

It hurts to be so easily dismissed when the work you do (raising the future leaders of the world to be responsible upstanding citizens) is among the most important work in the world. Keep in mind that the comment was an insensitive remark from someone who has probably never walked a mile in your shoes and has zero understanding of what you are about. Although I have never been a SAHM, I am Mom who holds a job outside the home, but works most days from home (gotta luv telecommuting!). We each do the best we can in the role we play. Unlike you, I overpay dearly for groceries because I don't have time to analyze the ads and figure out food price comparisons - that is a job in itself and to the extent that it saves your family money - it is the same as making money! Hold your head high.

LizzieMade said...

Good for you, Stacey! I also "just stay home"! It is so involved that I'm usually quite worn out after a week of "Just staying home"! I only have one son and my husband to think of, but my mother's health is poor and I spend a lot of time (and energy) looking after her needs - which means lots of appointments, shopping, visiting, general helping out. I'm trying hard to develop my online business, but I don't actually have much spare time during the day (and am too tired in the evening), so it's a struggle.
I don't worry so much about food prices etc, though we are a bit broke just now, so budgetting is currently at the top of my list and using up a lot more time than usual.
Of course, if my business got more of my time, I'd make more money and we'd be less broke...
No such thing as a mother/wife who "Just stays home" - or not in my world anyway! Maybe there are women whose days consist of hair appointments, nails, make-up, spa treatments, dieting, tacky magazines etc... I don't have time, money or patience for such things (and I like to think that, if I did, I'd have more intelligent things to do with that time/money/patience!).

So, Stacey, I know just where you're coming from and you have my support and sympathy.

Perhaps the woman who said "Just stay home" did not mean it in a derogatory way. She may - as you said - also stay home. She may be very busy too... she may just not be blessed with the best social skills. I too have attacks of "Foot in Mouth" disease! Forgive her and try to forget - after all, it cost you one sleepless night - is it worth all that stress?


SciFi Dad said...

Wow. Someone needs to step away from the calculator. If grocery shopping has become "hunting and gathering" then you're shopping at the wrong store. ;)

MnLady said...

I am following from MBC

{FMC Group}

You can find me here~


humel said...

I very much admire your restraint in not punching the offender in the nose.... 'Just' stay at home?! I'm angry on your behalf! Hope you feel better for having vented xx

Siera said...

I have thoughts like that all the time in regards to my grocery shop except I don't plan my meals much in advance. I should but I don't. What's on sale at the grocery store that I work at usually dictates what I buy. I'm a SAHM and I work p/t around my partner's schedule. Soon-to-be a WOHM when I will need to plan my meals in advance. *sigh*

Creative Junkie said...

OMG, I experienced this very same thing last week. I was at a funeral for a past co-worker and saw many people I haven't seen since I left my job after having Helena. They were all lawyers and paralegals and the like and after they asked me the obligatory "so, how old are the kids now?" they'd ask "so what are you doing with yourself now?" and I'd say that I stay home and be a mom, it was dead silence and then they'd just move on to someone else. A few times I did try to say that I was a blogger but that garnered even more WTF? looks.

Amanda said...

Your post was wonderful & I completely relate. I "just stay home" as well... & apparently in some places to some people (personally speaking: relations included) it doesn't actually qualify as "working for a living". However, if I had to pay someone to do everything that I do "just staying home"...can you imagine that cost?!? ugh!
I am very thankful that my husband has a job that allows me to 'just stay home', although, we don't have a lot of extra to spare, we have the peace of mind knowing that our family is taken care of.

humel said...

Just wanted to add my favourite quotation: 'There's no such thing as a non-working mother!' x