All it takes is ice cream

. January 11, 2013.

I was having a bad week. My hands were dry from endless loads of laundry.My shoulders were slumped with the monotony of repeatedly loading and unloading the dishwasher. I felt grim wastingmy cooking skills on endless quantities of pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese, and my house smelled like the toast I had burnt at breakfast. Thankless, drudgework engulfed me, making it difficult to display an honest smile.

 As I gazed out my kitchen window, I found myself wondering why I had chosen to be a stay-at-home mom. I longed for a world where I had an important job and wore expensive suits with matching Prada shoes. A world where I’d go to power lunches and people would linger on every word I uttered with awe and respect.

Leader of the pack

A glance at the wall clock snapped me out of my dream world. It was time to pick up the kids from school. Instead of a sophisticated meeting with intellectual co-workers and clients, I was driving five nine-year-old girls home from school for a group play date. Instead of stimulating conversation, I’d be listening to the squeal of pre-adolescent voices within the confines of my car. 

I motored through mud puddles and tried to look for high points in a gray, cloudy week: I considered how lucky I was that we only lived five minutes from school, otherwise my hearing might be permanently damaged by the volume in the car; and I said a silent thank you to the god of non-artistic mothers because so far, an art and craft project had not been mentioned.

Sounds of happiness

At home the five girls scrambled out of the car throwing coats, boots, backpacks and lunch boxes in a wet heap inside my front door. My daughter caught sight of the snacks laid out on the kitchen table and the herd moved forward. Minuteslater the only items remaining were remnants of apple slices and baby carrots. They made their way upstairs and the sounds of happiness began vibrating through the walls: Aly & A.J blared from the iPod, feet thumped on the floor as they danced and jumped, and the Mall Madness game went ding-ding-ding. Heaving a heavy sigh, I settled down to skim the newspaper and figure out which shape of pasta to make for dinner. Suddenly I heard a door crash open and the sound of ten feet tromping down the stairs. Looking up, I found eyes of various shapes and colors staring at me in anticipation.

 Simple pleasures

 My daughter asks, “Mom, we are wondering if you would take us out for ice cream?” Thrilled they weren’t asking to do an art project, I replied in the affirmative. It was then that I noticed they were all listening to my words and looking at me with awe and respect. Wasn’t this something I had been longing for? In fact, they were doingsomething that cultivated co-workers  would never do. They were jumping up and down, screaming and hugging me.

Later at the ice cream store feeling happier than I had in days (partially because of the creamy, sweet tasting double scoop of peanut butter-chocolate) I looked at their open, beautiful smiles. This was why I had chosen to be a stay-at-home mom: the giggles, hugs, spontaneity and ability to make someone happy by doing something simple. As I looked down at my sneakers I realized I wouldn’t be able to run with a pack of girls into an ice cream store in Prada shoes. I’d probably break an ankle. And that designer suit? My lycra yoga pants and baggy sweatshirt are a much better choice when eating a double scoop of ice cream.

Deanna Hyland is a freelance writer and mother of twins who believes it’s important to indulge in an occasional scoop of ice cream. Her work can be viewed at www.