The work within these walls

Photography: Rachel Nixon

Re-published with permission by Amanda Metcalf of Misadventures of a 20-something Mom

1700 square feet.

3 bedrooms. 2 baths.

A dining room that somehow evolved into a playroom somewhere along the line…and a living room that now works double duty as a family space and the place that meals are served.

1700 square feet.

That’s where I’ve spent the majority of my days these past 5.5 years.

Not on house arrest, nor as some sort of hermitic recluse. But instead, as a stay-at-home parent….which, if we’re honest, involves a little of both of the aforementioned.

For 5.5 years, this 1700 square feet has served as my “office” day in and day out, as I work tirelessly to raise three little boys.

I’m sure our so-called headquarters would sound relatively grandiose if we lived in the hustle and bustle of some big metropolis. Square footage comes at a premium when one lives amidst hoity-toity restaurants and eclectic coffee shops; where both hipsters and professionals alike, go daily to overpay for their morning cup of Joe.

But that same square footage ranks modestly within the quiet solitude of the burbs’.

And the work that happens within these walls feels equally modest and light years away from those fancy “city folk” and their snazzy careers. Living in the suburbs with small children, means that at times, I have gone days without interacting with another person (aside from my husband) who is over three feet tall. And yet, at the same time, in the current era of social media, I am also perpetually interacting.

Interacting in such a way that I find myself constantly bombarded by the various achievements and accolades of former colleagues. And as my thirtieth birthday looms this year, I have found myself wondering, if the work I do here, raising these tiny humans, measures up.

I am so unbearably cliche at this point. If there was a poster child for stay-at-home moms, I’d be her. I drive a minivan, wear yoga pants with zero intent of actually practicing yoga, and maintain a “mommy blog” that ironically enough, I think only my own mom reads. Though, its worth noting that there’s a surprisingly disappointing lack of bon-bon eating in my schedule. My days are fueled by trips to Target, where I inevitably forget everything on my list and instead buy holiday-inspired throw pillows and toilet paper in bulk (you can never have enough of the latter in a house full of boys), wiping tiny bottoms, making eight zillion snacks/meals, cleaning up after said eight zillion snacks/meals, the occasional jam out to gangster rap in the school car line, and lots of deep, zen-like breathing so I don’t lose my sh#t when I find Play Doh in the washing machine…again. And the next day inevitably brings more of the same. It’s like Groundhog Day…but without Bill Murray or a catchy Sonny & Cher theme song.

All this to say, the routine feels a little mundane sometimes. The work feels a little unimportant in comparison to what all those “real” grown-ups are doing in the “real” world. Thankfully, I have an amazing best friend who happens to have the same day job that I do. Right down to the three boys. And when the mommy burnout begins creeping in, I know she will be my sounding board, and reserve any judgement. Recently, when I was in a particularly dreary mood after scrolling through those Facebook highlight reels, I posited that this staying home gig was all for naught and we had nothing tangible or significant to show for it. No promotions. No six-figure income. No epic office Christmas party or raunchy water cooler gossip. Nothing. Nada. Fortunately, my bestie reminded me of the obvious: that being a part of the “working world” isn’t always all its cracked up to be. What with deadlines, trying to balance work and home life, having someone to report to, etc.

But, perhaps more importantly, she reminded me of my kids.

They are my something tangible. My something significant. When I turn 30 in May, I will have no shiny desk placard that tells the world that I have accomplished great things. However, in lieu of this, I will have something better. Three, living, breathing, walking/talking (well two of them anyways!) examples of the great work that I have accomplished, and the great work yet to be done. My three beautiful boys.

Despite my occasional insecurities, I know in my heart of hearts that the work that I have put in within these walls is hardly for nought. The work within these walls is sacred. And though the days are often long, and there are no big-time promotions on the horizon, it is the greatest and most gratifying work I will ever do.

Amanda is a 29-year-old former therapist turned freelance writer/stay-at-home mom to three little boys. She now runs a blog and corresponding Facebook page: Misadventures of a 20-something Mom.

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