Tomorrow we register my son for kindergarten for next school year. I’m not gonna lie; I’m kind of terrified. This is the first step in Cam going out into the world without me. It also means I’m out of baby stage and into something else entirely.
You know how everyone tells you that kids grow up fast? It’s because kids grow up fast! Cameron was just a tiny baby five minutes ago! I feel like 5 more minutes will pass and he’ll be 30.
My children changed me, and it has been absolutely for the better.
When I got home from the hospital after giving birth to my son, i cried and cried. I was so terrified. So hormonal. So bad at breastfeeding.
Everything got strange. This tiny person was unavoidably here all the time. Nothing that I’d done before worked the same way that it did after I had my babies. I was forced to change, and for a long time, changing hurt.
To make it in this strange, sleep-deprived land, i had to give up what was comfortable and familiar. I changed the way I kept house, the way I viewed my work life, and finally the way I viewed myself.
What would I be without my children? How would I know that I can learn to do almost anything? That practice can be hard and frustrating but so necessary? That i don’t owe anyone an explanation? That my words are strong enough to stand by themselves?
I am so happy that I’ve been able to go on this incredible ride. I’m so happy for the opportunity to get to know them and to get to know me.
I am extremely wary about who I take parenting advice from. Especially the unsolicited kind.
Is your advice from a good place? Do you genuinely want to help? Or do you want to soothe your own ego by making yourself feel wise and powerful?
Are you right here doing the dirty work with me? Have you been up at two in the morning with one or more of my children? Are you gonna help me drag this tantruming kid out of this store?
If so, congrats; you are welcomed into my inner advice-giving sanctum. But otherwise? Please understand that the whole time you are talking, I’m probably just nodding and smiling.
Today I ran errands, picked up my stepson from school, did laundry, took a work-related phone call, baked a cake, kept the house clean and attended to various parenting responsibilities. Does this count as ‘having it all?’ Because ‘it’ kind of sucks.
Maybe tomorrow I only have a little of ‘it.’ And maybe ‘it’ could involve a back rub and a glass of wine. That would be awesome.
I have been thinking a lot about my firstborn baby, my little Cam, lately. I am not ready to talk about why just yet but, I’ll just say that he is his own little unique person and I struggle to understand the best ways to be his mom sometimes. I’ve posted this poem over at my other blog, but I want to post it here, too.
there is no difference in the anger that bubbles in your small chest
and what burns like fire in mine.
We are the same
awash in emotion
and I’m in charge
so I should know better.
I worry a lot about your soul
Where it came from
and how to keep it pure.
I am trying so hard to keep my hands away from you,
to end the way our souls have been broken.
What a different word we’d live in, maybe,
if there was some other way
if pain wasn’t bragged on
if we’d look somewhere else.
your grandmother is wrong.
Your mother is wrong.
This maze we fall into is confounding.
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.
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 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.