Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I am a stay at home mom. Hear me roar. Well, maybe yawn and repeat myself over and over until these wild animals I call children take some sort of heed. (Or at least until they fall from that high place while choking on that piece of food and holding a sharp object and roll into a nest of angry wasps knocked loose by their fall.) Because only then will my children truly understand why I wouldn't let them climb on the top of the fence with a sandwich in one hand and a homemade stick shank in the other right next to the roof that has a wasp nest hanging from it. The irony? I'll be too busy driving to the emergency room and monitoring swelling and blood loss to say, "I told you so!" The following are my humble opinions on what the stay at home life is like and my experiences and may or may not be relatable to you. Either way, they are mine and if you don't like them, you're not required to believe them to be true. Isn't individuality a beautiful thing?

I've had people say they envy me. I always wonder at this. What do they think I do? Is it the endless amounts of chores that are never done or the crushing weight of knowing your children's future successes are entirely dependent upon how you conduct yourself in these formative years that these people wish they had? I chose to stay at home, and therefore chose everything that goes along with it.  Don't belittle my choice by expressing jealousy without first doing some thoughtful and empathetic reflection.

 I think of parenting as both the most selfish and selfless thing I'll ever do. Staying at home means I have put a career on hold, often forget to eat meals, and put my desires for adult interaction on the back burner in order to better serve the needy little humans clinging to my leg. Did I bring them into the world? Oh, very selfishly so! Have I given up multitudinous aspects of my life and self to better attune myself to their needs so I can advocate and support them to ensure they thrive and develop? You have NO idea!

I have two beautiful children. They are healthy, generally happy, and intelligent humans who are learning to think for themselves and discover the world around then. I'm very lucky to have them. But you want to know something? I forget that once in a while. When the car needs servicing and we can't afford it on one income. When I dreamily research graduate school and am subsequently plagued by fears that by the time I go back, it will be too hard to start over. When I feel like I'm one load of laundry or sibling fight mediation away from losing my sanity. When I sit in a board meeting in a volunteer position I hold and rather than productively contributing, I spend the evening repeatedly apologizing for my children who've decided to interrupt by attacking the facility director with hand puppets as he attempts to present his monthly report. I'm lucky that I get to stay home with these kids. That does not mean I never want to pretend they're not mine.

I wasn't always this person you see with a purse full of wet wipes and an endless knowledge of children's television. I used to be a free spirit with a short fuse. I once held multiple jobs while going to college full-time. I've had lovely and interesting experiences in my life that have nothing at all to do with my children.

I will not always be what I am today. I am just crazy enough to hope that one day, I'll have a career and life that doesn't involve spending the majority of my day in the kitchen. But I will never forget the joys and the turmoils of being a stay at home mom.

The truth of it is, some days I feel inadequate, unimportant, irrelevant. Some days, I'm pretty sure I could run the world singlehandedly. It's the best of times and the worst of times. But it's my time, and though the minutes are years and the years are minutes, one day that time will be up. I'll look back on it fondly (I hope). The bad times won't seem so bad and the good times will seem to have been better. My kids will one day realize I'm not only their mother, I'm a person. Then I'll tell that funny story about the time they nearly choked on a sandwich and impaled themselves on a stick when they fell off the fence into that wasp nest. And the beat will go on.