How much does this life cost me? I sometimes worry that it will swallow up everything else.
I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. I thought that – like my mom and most of the moms I grew up with – I’d have my kids, put them in a nice daycare, and go right back to work.
But then, steady work seemed to dry up just as I was up to my neck in new motherhood. I do a little freelancing, but I don’t yet have the time to pursue work in great volume and you can’t exactly support a family on a freelancer’s pay.
So now I’m home with my babies – writing and earning very little. I have always believed I’d be a writer and have brought in an income of some kind since I was 14 years old. So, I struggle at times with my place inter world. I’m no Michelle Obama. I’m not some high-powered lady in great shoes doing it all. Honestly, even if I’d never gotten married and had babies, that would never be me.
I’m happy to be here for this time in my children’s lives. I’m happy to serve them now. But I wonder sometimes about what I’m missing. I wonder about what I’ve given up.
One day I’m going to collect all the grocery lists I have made during this period of my life. I keep constant lists of things we need for the house: toilet paper, lemons, hair elastics, celery. So, I’m gonna display them all, row after row after row. Random need after random need. I’m going to call my exhibit ‘Never Ending Trips to Target.’
My children are (in my completely objective opinion) very bright. They ask lots of questions, they test boundaries, they fight, they play 5 million imaginary games. It’s fun! it really is. It can also be exhausting.
I am the quiet, thinky type. I like to be alone in my own head. I like to read. I like to sit down some damn where.
Of course this never happens when the kids are up. So, by the time bedtime rolls around I’m tapped out. I need to crawl back into my shell to rejuvenate.
I’m writing this in the dark, underneath my covers. And it feels amazing.
I think people can sense when you aren’t too steady with your own power. Especially kids. Kids depend on their instincts to learn. They are still figuring out how to maneuver through the world. They don’t have a bunch of experience to draw from, but they have the sense they were born with. So, If you aren’t secure in the role of mommy, they are the first to sniff that insecurity out. Then run wild over you. Kids can be pretty ruthless.
I’d much rather be nice. I actually shrink away from any kind of conflict. Even with adults, I over-think. I worry I’m being too harsh or hurting feelings.
So when it’s time to administer a time-out, I’m just as stressed out as my kids are. I hate hearing them cry and scream. It makes everything inside me bunch up and stand on end. I just want us to hug and have awesome times! Why’d you have to harsh our buzz by hitting your brother, Grace?!
But I know I have to soldier through it so that they learn what is and isn’t acceptable. I do it now so that hopefully I won’t have to deal with worse behavior when they are bigger.
So, no, Cam and Grace won’t like me all the time. Actually, I can pretty much guarantee that they will be pissed at me at some point during each and every day. And that’s fine. We’ll be friends when they are 30. They’ll be able to drink by then anyway.
Today, I’m feeling the weight of all the things I’m not perfect at.
See, despite never having been perfect and understanding that I’ll never be perfect, I still harbor these impossible expectations for myself.
So, I’m just going to put this out there for myself: my house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean, my kids don’t have to be perfectly well-behaved. Dinner doesn’t have to be perfectly planned and perfectly prepared. Hell, this post doesn’t have to be perfectly written.
Whew. That feels better.
I had a really good day, but I’m also really tired. I met with a new friend who is also a writer, I got some time to window shop, I had a quiet meal to myself.
So, this is all I got. But it still counts as a NaBloPoMo post! See ya here tomorrow when I’ll have 35 percent more gumption. Promise!
1. Use two packs of alphabet cards to play a matching/teaching game with your child. Spread the first pack on the floor. Use the second pack to have your child (or children) name and sound out the letter, and then find its match.
2. Dollar stores are awesome. Seriously. Cleaning rags, hangers, some even have educational supplies. Not to mention tissue paper and gift wrap supplies.
3. Fresh garlic in your vagina can cure a yeast infection. However, you have to catch it early. Also, you will randomly taste garlic.
4. Potty training. It’s a process.
5. Trader Joe’s has awesome and reasonably priced spices. Speaking of which, their South African Smoke Spice makes any meat dish taste better.
6. Saving money is important, but sometimes, you gotta go for quality.
7. Organizational tip: Give things you use or lose often a “home.” Designate a spot for things like pens, puzzles, library books, keys, etc. Don’t be lazy; put those things back in their home every time you use them. That way, you’ll always know where that stuff is and won’t tear your house apart looking for what you need.
Thanks and goodnight. *bows*
I make myself rest during the day. When I first started doing this whole stay at home mom thing, I thought that since I wasn’t leaving the house and collecting a paycheck, I wasn’t doing real work. So I felt compelled to do something all the time. No naps or rest for me! Productivity! Cleaning! Cooking! Educational activities!
That didn’t end well.
So now I take short breaks. I even allow myself to nap with the kids. What I’m doing isn’t what I went to school for, it doesn’t have an office, but it most definitely is work. Sometimes it can be very physical. Other times it’s all mental. But it’s work.
I have a tendency to be hard on myself, to get frustrated with myself. I have to make a very concerted effort to give myself a bit of kindness.
Talking to my mom this morning, she reminded me that I’m allowed to make mistakes. I am allowed to care for myself. I am allowed to be happy.
My son screamed in the library today. Loudly. Really loudly. Incredibly loudly. I’m pretty sure a librarian would have escorted us out had we not already been on our way out the door.
The mean thing that I did to provoke his wrath was not allow he and his sister to check out two copies of the same exact CD. Grace had already handed me hers, and I’d already run it through the self checkout kiosk. I told him he could pick out another CD, just not that one. Horrible, right?
They are so close in age (right now, Cam is four and Grace is three) that they are used to being treated like twins. What one gets, the other gets. But there was no way I was hogging up two of the exact same CDs to appease the random whims of a four-year-old.
So I dragged him out. Past the disapproving looks of retired grandmothers, students, and users of free public library Internet porn. Of course we were in the back of the building. Of course he screamed the whole way out.
After that, I drove around a bit before going home. I needed time to get over my deep mortification. I needed time to reevaluate my life decisions. I needed time to realize that we should probably never go to that library again. Ever.
The good news is, I am not limping.
Today was not exactly anything to write home about. Why? Doesn’t really matter. Mostly stuff that isn’t important in the grand scheme of the universe, but that mattered very much to me in the moment.
But, here I am. The day is over. I survived it. The moments passed and the kids went to bed early. And I’m not stumbling, limping or even crying (at the moment).
Instead, I am stubbornly optimistic. I am trying very hard to walk in the light because I’ve been in the dark and it sucks there.
I have spent the last few years adjusting to where I am now. Trying to make neat piles of the vast amount of stuff you inherit when you become a parent. Education, discipline, love, fun, respect. Can you even wrap your mind around how huge those words are when they hand you your tiny newborn?
Anyway, the point is, I feel like I’m…not lost right now. My path is still a complete mystery, but I’m strong enough to take it. I won’t limp. I will walk. I may even run eventually.