I was vacuuming today, sweating and annoyed while doing so, and it got me to thinking: how the heck have I managed to hold down my job of being a Stay-At-Home-Mom for so long? I’m terrible at it!

Most days I feel like I got this job by accident. By lying on my resumé or accidentally getting promoted into the wrong department. Sheer pride insisted I try not to get caught doing something I’m totally unqualified to do, and seems to be the main motivator in keeping me from admitting the clerical error.

I really believe that it’s time I switch to something I may actually be qualified for. That someone needs to simply pay me to write my book effective immediately, so I can prove that I may be actually good at something. I’ve always written. I’ve always loved stories.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In my gut I know I am a writer. Why can’t I just be one?

None of this mailing out queries and finding agents and praying a publisher takes a liking to the finished work (which they’ll have some editor hack up into a bloodied mess and send back to me to fret over once again anyway). All that is just a lot of headache and stress, and quite frankly I gave birth to enough headache and stress 3 & 5 years ago, thankyouverymuch. We’re all full up here.

I got my current job–Mom–with zero qualifications.

Actually, if I had formally applied for this job the application and attached resumé would have been swiftly chucked in the circular file beneath the desk of the intern working Human Resources that day. Even a 20-year-old working for free could see the job would be a stretch for me.

If I were hiring SAHMs, there would be a simple list of duties and required skills to get those duties done. Resumés would only be accepted by prison-record-free applicants who did not carry the scent of last night’s bender in their bloated pores. I’d insist, since the well-being of children depended on it, that the applicants be deliberate and passionate about their application submission. That they dreamed of doing this job since they themselves were children. I’d hold them to impossibly high standards, and do thorough background checks.

They would need to be clever; organized enough to manage a basic schedule of activities, naps, meals, and school commutes; able to focus on the task at hand; be patient; have a natural tendency to keep an eye on one’s charges; able to properly clean a mac & cheese pot, hardwood floor and Crown Molding with organic products and a chamois; change diapers without spills when they are babies and finally, potty train when the kids are old enough.

Please allow me a moment to review my skill level with these basic requirements.

Firstly, I am not clever. Creative? Yes. Can I ‘wing it’ when the going gets tough? Absolutely. But my head is far too sleep-deprived to come up with interesting things to do or say to kids. Just ask mine. Oh wait–sorry, they’re in front of the other TV in the basement. I’ll wait here on the crumb-crunchy couch while you pop down there to ask.

I am fairly organized. But kids don’t like to let themselves be organized. When they scribble all over my calendar or To Do List with their glittery gel crayons I easily get disorganized, flustered, and then I start raising my voice. So I don’t think it counts.

Focus? I haven’t slept in 6 years. Gimme a break, dude.

I do try to be patient. Mostly by ignoring them and pretending I’m alone so their hollering doesn’t get to me. And trying to keep a calm, pleasant voice when telling them to stop stepping on each others’ necks. But I’m tired and they are loud and really it all adds up to much too much effort.

As for keeping an eye on children, I can barely even see the little buggers down there on the floor, being that I am of Amazonian stature. A kid needs to climb up onto a high, dangerous structure to get into my field of vision, and we all know that never ends well. I give it a go, and all, but it’s tough on my tender neck to keep looking down all the time. It also throws off my balance and makes me more susceptible to spilling my coffee, which I need because I haven’t slept in 6 years.

Today’s ‘quick wipe-down & vacuum ‘s prepare for an afternoon hosting of a mom from my daughter’s class turned into a wake-up call to exactly how terrible a housekeeper I am. If this house was smaller and the debris less spread out, you could safely say my family lives in squalor. The filth clings to every corner, dust bunnies hop by in the wake of my step, and crusty splashes (of milk? yogurt? pudding? cheese? alien goo?) freckle the sides of the couch. Let’s face it people: I’m gross.

I was pretty good at changing diapers, except those like five times the kids sprayed poop up in an arch onto the wall (I’m pretty sure I got it all off, but we sold that place like 3 years ago so really…does it matter now?). But really, I can’t be expected to control kids bowels. As for potty training…well, it took me almost 2 years to train my son and then my daughter just trained herself because she witnessed that whole debacle, sized up my ineptitude as rather grave, and took matters into her own hands.

On top of all that stuff, you also are expected to actually hang out with the kids. You’re supposed to want to spend time playing board games with them.

Have you ever played a board game with the recommended age range of 3-6 years?? They are boring, have silly names and I win every time. Plus the kids are bad losers, never fully appreciating my victory dances when I kick their butts at Zingo Bingo or the like. Really, a waste of my time.

You’re also supposed to have the ability to seamlessly enrich your kids’ education at home.

I can’t do anything seamlessly. I’m full of seams. Messy, imperfect seams with threads hanging askew. Besides, isn’t that what schools for?  Isn’t that included in my property taxes? I talk to them using big words…does that count? I put on the First Day of School episodes of Max & Ruby, Dora and Ni Hao, Kai Lan….does that count?

Back to the point at hand: selling my book. So what that I never finished my English degree? What good has it done most of the people who do have one?

So what that I haven’t actually finished my book yet? It’s good stuff so far, and if you pay me to finish it maybe I can actually hire someone more adept at childcare and housework to keep things under control and free up my time to actually finish the darn thing. I’m up to my ears in unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, homework and animal cookies. How does anyone expect me to get pages written when my life is littered with un-fun responsibilities that eat up most of my day and all of my energy?

I can’t be worse at writing a book than I am at being a SAHM. That’s just silly talk. And so far, even though I am grossly under-qualified to do my current job, my kids are happy little people. And despite my constant screwing up and their constant whining, we love each other tremendously. I’ve done pretty well with what minimal skills I have for this job. What can I say?  I’m a Do-er.

Imagine what I could do if given the chance to really do this writing thing for real.

I’m just saying. Gimme a chance, people. I promise not to lie on my resumé.

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Unqualified for this parenting gig by Kim Bongiorno

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  1. countingdown says

    I ADORE this post. I started thinking about writing one similar yesterday, but when ever pigs fly and I actually finish it, it will be no where near as clever. I laughed the whole way through. Thanks for the laugh; you’re my favoritist (sic) Kim yet.

  2. countingdown says

    Shoot, I’m unqualified to post. “Sic” is used improperly and I meant to take it out before I hit “reply.” Obviously, I forgot. Either way, I knowingly wrote “most favorite” incorrectly. You can mark up my response with a red pen all over the place. I can’t wait to show your post to DH. I’m pretty sure he’ll just look at me knowing that I know what he knows I don’t do. :)

  3. says

    Anna totally cheats at Zingo. Just this afternoon she hid a bunny under a smile. How is that supposed to be enjoyable? And, as you already know, I am also gross.

    • says

      I’ve added Tipping to the game. As in, I scan the kids’ cards and if something comes up that I need but the kids do too I give them a little shove to tip them off balance so I can get it 1st. Darwinism, baby.

  4. says

    This post totally hit home with me. Perhaps because as I was sitting at the kitchen table today, I noticed a huge cobweb across the back of the patio door. A door that is opened and closed every day. How could that be?? Who gave me this job????

    • says

      I can’t tell you how many cobwebs I found (like, the real deal…ones so old they’ve been abandoned by spiders who once called them home) while hanging faux decorative ones for Halloween.
      I figure I’ll just clean them all up, real & faux, come November. No need to rush.

  5. says

    Can I just say ditto? Having my mother in law visiting just makes my terrible housekeeping more apparent. I vacuumed this morning just because I realized that she’s been here 2 weeks and I haven’t done it yet. I made a big show of it and even used different attachments to demonstrate that I really know the machine well.

    I suck at my job but there’s no one to fire me. I have no boss and no board and no stockholders. I’m accountable only to small people who don’t know any better. They don’t know that countertops could potentially be clear of teetering piles of stuff. And they’re too short to see all the stuff I haven’t dusted.

    • says

      When I was about to start vacuuming I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. Probably not a good sign.

      Ditto ditto ditto to being unable to get fired. Even if I acted like Pete (knocking down walls, gutting fish to rot in a drawer, hanging up on my boss) I still couldn’t get fired. But that doesn’t stop me from looking over my shoulder, wondering when a pink slip may show up on it’s own accord.

  6. says

    “I can’t be worse at writing a book than I am at being a SAHM. That’s just silly talk.”

    You have made me laugh right out loud.

    I love this post.

    Oh my god.

    So much giggling.

  7. says

    I could have written this post word for word. No, I take that back, I’m not as eloquent.

    Great post!

    Oh, btw–don’t beat yourself up over an unfinished degree in English. I spent seven frustrating years teaching high school English–oy, years of frustration. Now what can I do with this degree? My kiddos have little interest in split infinitives:)

  8. Katie says

    Oh. My. God.

    I’m you. Without half the English degree or writing abilities.

    I feel all accomplished when I get my kid to school on time. Clean. With lunch. Even 2 out of three is a good day.

  9. says

    OMG!!! I feel like I wrote this…except I work full time and my husband is gone all week so I’m a single mom those nights. I completely agree…my house is gross…I can’t believe I live there. If I saw my house on TV, on one of those reality shows, I would turn my nose up. I hate house work and laundry and dishes and all of it. I do love my kids, but it does suck that the things I have to do keep me from the things I want to do. Love the post, good luck with the book!

  10. says

    I worked as a nanny for years before I had my own children.
    And I owned that job.
    Then I had my own.
    And now? I need a nanny.
    So very bad.

    Great post!

  11. says

    OMG can I relate to this! Every bit of it. Especially since I have been sending out queries like a mad woman since my child returned to preschool. I’m not sure which is more frustrating – being a SAHM or trying to get published. They each have their moments. Lately, I’ve been feeling like a complete failure as a mom and as a writer. The two things I am most passionate about in this world. It’s not a good feeling.

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