Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Invisible (or “what do you do all day?”)

Posted in children by Kathy on October 10, 2008

The other day, my husband made a comment about me “having all day” to do this, that, or the other, since I was “home all day with the kids.” While he did have a point, and I do waste some time (such as now, for instance), there is an awful lot that I do that is invisible at the end of the day. For instance, laundry.

I wash a load of clothes, hang it up to dry, fold it, put it away. At the end of the day, the house looks the same. While those particular clothes are clean, the dirty clothes basket has more dirty clothes in it (especially since my younger son is potty-training!); and unless you notice that the clothes in the basket are different, you’d never know I’d done laundry. I guess you’d just have to assume that the clothes clean themselves? and fold themselves up and march themselves into the drawers neatly? It’s not noticeable that I do laundry… but it is noticeable when I don’t — the pile of dirty clothes reaches higher and wider, and the drawers and closets are emptier.

I read to the children a lot, but when the book is put back on the shelf, you can’t tell that it has been read yet another time (or three) today.

I play with the children, but when the toys are put back, you can’t tell that they’ve been played with today.

I put together a puzzle with the children, and when it’s put away, you can’t tell that it was ever put together (a dozen times) today.

I go buy groceries and household supplies during the day while my husband is gone. He doesn’t see those trips, but he’d sure miss it if I didn’t buy food and toilet paper!

I make home-made bread and freeze it; and I make from scratch most of the food we eat. Much of the thought and preparation is done when he is not here. He doesn’t see it, but he’d notice if I didn’t do it.

I also do a lot of constant cleaning up after the boys — sweeping up crumbs, wiping dirty faces, washing hands, mopping up spills from cups (or bladders), etc. We also have a cat, so occasionally I get to clean up hair-balls or dead critters.

There are a lot of intangible things I do that are equally invisible — try to civilize my two young boys, teach them to share, potty-train my younger son, get them to take a nap, etc. And it’s paying off.

My kids (almost 4 and 2&1/2) know most of the letters, all of the digits and colors; my older son is potty-trained and my younger son is nearly so; my older son can put together a map puzzle of the United States that says “ages 7 and up” all by himself, and my younger son knows where at least 10 of the states go all by himself, and both of them know several of the states’ names. Many people compliment me on my kids’ manners (although sometimes I wonder why — are other kids really that bad that my kids look mannerly by comparison?).

It’s rather like children growing up and gaining in height — at the end of any given day, the child is not going to be noticeably taller. Perhaps not even if you wait a week or a month between measuring. Yet by the end of the year, the child will definitely be bigger. My kids may not be noticeably better-behaved by the end of today than they were yesterday, but (I hope!) by the end of the year they will have improved. And that takes work on my part — work which like growth is essentially invisible, yet necessary.


3 Responses

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  1. enjoybirth said, on October 11, 2008 at 5:15 am

    I always say, If the kids are fed and safe at the end of the day, I have done my job. I feel good about that. BUT, there is all that other “stuff” I do and id doesn’t show!

    A Mother’s work is never done. 🙂

  2. Melanie Hodges said, on October 12, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Ha! I am right there with you, sister! Danny has the next few days off and I have spent almost all day upstairs tearing it apart and cleaning it. There is a lot of junk up there! Danny said to me when he put Josiah down to bed…”I thought you were going to clean Josiah’s room today…”. What he doesn’t see is the cleaned out closet, the organized drawers, the changed bedsheets, the rotated toys, etc,! Indeed, a mother’s work is never done!

  3. […] I’m sure many of my readers — even those who are not SAHMs — can identify with this, the never-ending tasks of keeping a home in running order (laundry, cleaning, cooking — and […]

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