I know my wife works hard. A few days a year I get a small taste of it. One of those days occurred recently when she had her birthday. All I did was to get the kids up and organized (they needed to make cards), make sure the presents were ready,  make breakfast and dinner, and to supervise the making of her cake (okay, I also made and applied the frosting), and yet it still felt like an epic undertaking.

I know part of it is just because cooking is not something I do often. I can cook fairly well, but I’m not very fast. I have to hunt for ingredients and equipment. I don’t have a good feel for how long things take, so staging is difficult. Recipes that should be quick end up taking longer than necessary. My wife teases me about this. When we were trying to work out our schedule for the day I told her it would take about an hour for me to cook dinner. Her immediate thought, because it was me doing the cooking, was to double that time. I’m sorry to say her estimate was closer than mine was.

Granted we went for a family hike between lunch and dinner, but by the end of the day I was tired. I enjoyed it, but it was work. She does this every day. Anyone who says that stay-at-home moms have it easy should be bludgeoned with a five-pound bag of frozen strawberries. But not by a stay-at-home mom. They’re probably too tired to inflict much damage.

Take today, for instance. My wife got up around 6:00 am this morning, made muffins from scratch, and packed four lunches before getting her shower. After making sure everyone got up on time and making sure we had family prayer and breakfast, getting me out the door, making sure the kids get dressed, and their backpacks packed, she walks the kids to school. That leaves her about ten minutes before the next phase starts.

Once a week she volunteers at an animal sanctuary. Today she’ll spend at least three hours (often more) slogging through mud to change the water buckets of I don’t know how many animals, haul them hay, and then muck out the stables. When she’s done there she has an hour or two at home to herself (often writing email to her family or working on her vegan cooking newsletter while running a load of laundry) before leaving (often with the dog) to walk the kids home from school. The kids are usually quite excited, and all want to talk to her at once (I get the second round when I get home).

Today Emma has a church group and Walter has a cub scouts pack meeting, and Terhi’ll have to make dinner around that–and early to make sure the kids get fed before the pack meeting (I get to go hungry until after the meeting, since I don’t get home soon enough to eat with the family before we have to leave). After the meeting it will be a scramble to get a bedtime snack into everyone and get the kids to bed before walking the dog (I get the morning shift), setting the table for breakfast, and measuring out the ingredients in advance for whatever we’ll be having in the morning.

If she’s lucky she’ll be done with all that by around 9:00 pm, when she gets to work on other projects, like catching up on the kids’ photo albums, until bedtime. Just getting ourselves ready for bed is usually a half-hour ritual by itself.

I get tired just writing about it. Granted, that’s probably her busiest day of the week, but not by much. It takes a lot of work to keep a family going. I’m not sure how she does it, but I’m sure glad she does. I can’t imagine we thank her nearly enough.