North Shore Massage and Bodywork by Milica 
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Stay-home mothering is an executive job

copyright 2007-2008 by Milica Barjaktarovic

There is a joke in one of the books I read, titled What Smart Women Know. The joke goes something like this: women who work and don't have kids fantasize about cute little booties and blue and pink outfits, stay-home moms fantasize about power lunches and business suits, and women who work and have kids fantasize about a clean, ironed blouse and an hour to themselves. 

In my experience, many full time moms are phenomenal executives and often do not have the time to fantasize about power lunches and business suits, because they are in the middle of it already. I have seen it... OK, maybe they are not in a three-piece business suit but in a pair of sneakers and easy-care clothing, but they are in the midst of running a huge, complicated show. 

It takes a tremendous amount of patience, perseverance, organizing skills and diplomacy to run a huge complicated "organization" called a family. It involves organizing the immediate group of people under one roof, and also coordinating with the outside world and the community (i.e. school, grandparents, other parents.) It involves having a vision and a patience to wait and work diligently, selflessly and patiently some 20 years for the baby to becomes a fully grown person. In short, mothering is a long-term job with tremendous requirements. 

One of the best calendars/time management tools I have ever used is Amy Knapp's "Family Organizer." It has phenomenal planning facilities. Forget Franklin organizers and Day Timer organizers. Family Organizer beats them - big time -in real life. The only improvement I'd make is to make the pages thinner. And I am a "have work, no kids" person and have used all those organizers I mentioned, to finally settle on the family one as the best one. I just substitute the list for grocery shopping as my office to-do list.

The stay-home mom job description involves being a CEO, a manager, a house helper, a laborer, an emergency specialist, a psychologist, an activist, an organizer, a coach, a saint, ....  all rolled into one. And in all that, the stay home mom, just like everyone else, has all her other "lives" active at the same time - the life of a sexy woman and devoted wife, the personal interests and hobbies, personal family and friends, ... 

So, how do stay home moms manage all that? Their job might not be as visible as being a major or a corporate CEO. Stay home moms do not usually end up on the front page of the newspaper cutting a ribbon to a new facility or reporting record profits or something else that "important." Their job is thankless - a spotless house, a perfect dinner, all gets used and messed up and in need to work as soon as it is over with. The house gets dirty, the dinner leaves a pile of dishes. It is never ending work, and the kind that we take for granted. We may not even thank for the nice meal and we may even try to weasel out of washing the dishes.... 

However, without moms, the world does not go on. Moms make products that are critical for the entire humanity: new adults who carry on with the duties of taking care of this world. All the clean houses, all the good dinners, result in healthy functional adults, and then the world can go on.  (Of course, dads and working moms help in that too. However, this essay is about stay-home moms, so we will the focus on them in this discussion.)

Let's check into the job description of stay-home moms. Their job is multi-faceted, as we said. Nobody else has to do this much. 

On the level of most intimate, daily encounters, who else can organize many (often different) people to move as a unit? To live in the same house agreeably, to begin with, which can be a miracle in itself; and to keep track of their food, clothing, laundry, and other survival necessities as well as complicated details about vaccinations, allergies, dental appointments, checkups, paperwork, and all that? And even their social life - their birthdays, friends, special occasions, graduations, ... later even weddings, ... 

Who else every day organizes a whole group of people with different schedules and different needs to eat on time, to sleep on time, to get to the soccer/ballet/piano/math/football/.... practice etc. etc. on time? And even share a room even they might not be the most cooperative roomies. And to keep their rooms and the house in some resemblance of order. 

Who else can organize with other moms and parents and grandparents for kids going to play/stay/ even sleep over, taking into account the other little friends and the different adults. 

Who else is the backbone of the school system, volunteering for all kinds of activities so that schools can continue to function and do interesting things.

Who else can manage cranky and uncooperative troops, sleepy and unmotivated faces at 6am, get everyone organized to eat and get dressed and get out of the house on time? EVERY morning...  

Who else can handle disappointments of many people - when the husband has a bad day at work, when the kids have a bad day at school,, ... 

Who else can handle major emergencies and pain - e.g. ear infections, bleeding wounds from falling, broken bones, coughs, colds, and all that, if and when it happens and the whole household is shaken with screaming?

Who else knows when to scold and when to pamper, when to praise and when to criticize, when to reward and when to punish? And to skillfully negotiate and navigate through deals about issues that other parties do not want to do or participate in (e.g. cleaning a room, doing chores, going on a family vacation, etc.)

Who else has the skills to be quiet when they would rather scream, e.g. when someone without care spills the entire oatmeal all over the floor, or drops a ball point pen into the working laundry machine and turns your best laundry spotted.... And then you find out they "forgot" to check their pockets before putting the clothes into the washer.... 

Who else has the perseverance to deal with kicking and screaming uncooperation and make sure someone sits down to do their homework or take a bath or brush teeth or whatever it is that they hate doing? 

Who else will be a go-in-between and negotiate between various parties to reach a common agreeable ground and make it a success. 

Who else has the saintly patience to put all her needs aside and serve others, and yet be skilled enough to keep the proper boundaries and take care of herself, in order to be strong enough and support the whole unit. 


The answer: full time mothers. The more kids involved, the more complicated the job is. It is truly an executive job, of the most complicated and most sophisticated order.

So, a stay-home mom has all the skills to be a success in the most cut-throat business situation. She already IS in a very challenging business situation.

Unless it is one small cute healthy baby and a rich family with a cleaning lady, a paid babysitter, and a live-in cook and a gardener. Well, even that lifestyle has its own challenges - how to spend the day when there is nothing to do.... Which is a topic that I am highly unfamiliar with :) and will leave it to someone else to comment on.

Have happy raising kids! As Dalai Lama said: "Mothers are the greatest spiritual teachers in the world. From our mother first, we learn what the world is like and how to be and how to treat other people."


Coming up: "Proper care and feeding of stay-home moms". In short: let her have at least one hour per day for herself, make sure she has friends outside of the house that are not related to kids and gets to have at least one truly grown up conversation per day - something totally intellectual and engaging like politics, business, money, etc., and make sure she is well exercised and keeps beautiful. THANK for every good dinner and clean house....