Surviving 5 Kids and a Job
By Surviving Five on June 17, 2011
I've recently entered the working world as an "Independent Distributor for Mary Kay, Inc.", which sounds so much better than “lipstick pusher.” My reasons for signing up are rather typical: I like the stuff, I want a discount on the stuff, and I have five kids wanting me to drop hundreds of dollars a month on extracurricular activities. The lure of an unachievable pink Cadillac doesn't hurt either, although I think I would need to request a pink 12-seater minibus, which loses a little appeal.
I've only been in "the biz" for about a week now, which means I've done pretty much nothing except organize and reorganize my various order forms and pester my friends to death. But the kids have already begun to notice the subtle changes in our household dynamic. As I left for my first training meeting I took the opportunity to try out the phrase "Mommy is going to work!" It felt great... until the tears began.
"Who's going to feed us?"
"I need help with my homework!"
"Will you be home in time to tuck me in?"
I tried to calm all of their concerns by saying "Don't worry guys, Daddy's home!" But judging by their blank stares, they didn't see how that bit of information answered any of their life-or-death questions.
My husband isn't quite used to the new routine yet either. It's not unusual for me to leave the house but my outings usually begin after the kids have been fed and put to bed. The first night that I walked out the door during dinner rush, leaving him holding the pan so to speak, I think it sunk in that having a second income wasn't going to be all fun and games. When I came home later that evening dishes, clothes and papers were scattered around the house, the baby was still awake and sitting in the middle of the dining room table, and my husband had the oh-so-familiar look on his face that suggested things hadn't gone smoothly. Good thing I don't have a job that requires me to be gone longer than an hour.
Recently it occurred to me that I might need to brush up on my makeup techniques. Not to say that I never wear makeup anymore, but... well... I never wear makeup anymore. Since this was supposed to be my new area of expertise, I figured I better get used to it. My 3-year-old sat down, watching me intently.
"Where is you going?"
"Den why is you doing you makeups?"
"Oh, I'm just putting some makeup on."
"Where is you going?"
"Who is staying with us?"
"I wait here by myself?" (I swear this has never actually happened. Not on purpose anyway)
"No, you're not staying by yourself!"
"I go with you?"
I tried to muster up some indignation to this exchange, but the sad reality is that she was right. If I take the time to do my hair, put on makeup, or even change out of my pajamas, it is almost always because we were going somewhere important. This job would benefit me in ways I hadn't even considered, like giving me an excuse to exercise basic human grooming practices on a daily basis. I haven't always been this way—I used to be quite high maintenance—but once my life got to the point where I had to choose between doing my hair or peeing in the morning, my hair always went up in a ponytail.
More than just applying eye shadow daily, my line of work relies heavily on verbal advertising (a.k.a. alienating every person you come in contact with), which requires a fair amount of devoted time each day. The constant presence of children means phone calls are out of the question (imagine trying to make a professional business call in a room full of rabid apes in heat), so I've been restricted to Facebook stalking and texts. My afternoon routine has been fairly consistent; I sit down at the computer, the sound of my clicking keyboard traveling through the house lures each child over like the Pied Piper of Internet Sales, and within 10 minutes, I'm surrounded on five sides as the prospect of getting anything achieved dwindles with each inevitable
"Mommy is working guys, time to go play!"
"You're not working, you’re playing Farmville."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are."
"Well, okay, I was. But that was just for a minute. I need to do my work now."
"To people on your computer?"
"Sigh… Sort of."
"Have you sold a lot?"
"No, not a lot."
"Just... not a lot."
"So, like, none?"
"Yes, none. Can you be quiet please so I can work?"
Before any potential clients even have time to reject me, the chatter starts back up again. They want a drink, they want a snack, the 4-year-old wants help buttoning her pants, the 2-year-old wants to sit on my lap and poke toys up my nose. The distractions are endless and all hope of a productive day is lost, so I give up and start cooking dinner. Once I'm preoccupied with preparing my spaghetti sauce (sometimes the lid on the Ragu is on really tight), the baby seizes her opportunity to ransack my work bag, the 3-year-old draws all over my catalogs and the 4-year-old squirts a $40 tube of moisturizer on the dog to make him "pretty," taking my overall profit to -$57. Who knew getting a job could be so expensive?
Being a mother to five kids is a full-time job, but it feels nice being part of the working world as well, successful or not. It's so easy to lose your identity in the daily chaos of being "mommy" and it's nice to have goals larger than "two loads before lunch." I never regret bypassing a career in favor of a large family, and my children will always be my first priority, but it's important to never underestimate the value of being needed outside the home too.
**For more posts like this one please visit Surviving Five
Leigh Ann Wilson
(A hilarious and heartwarming look at life with five young children- ages 7, 6, 4, 3 and 2)
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