There comes a point in all of our lives – often more than once – when we are forced to take a mental step back and search deep within for clarity. That time came last week. The goal of this blog is to offer up some fun crafts, allow you to follow along on my journey as a parent and to keep it real. Always. So, in the effort of keeping it real for ya, here it is.
This has been a hard month and a half for small fry and I. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Two is hard. Please don’t tell me how much harder three is because (while I’m sure you’re right) I’ll have no choice but to flee the country. I adore the kid. He’s my world. Anyone who knows me even casually knows that I live and breathe for that linebacker of a tiny human. Still… the last month and a half has been physically and emotionally draining beyond what I would have expected. Many nights have turned into tears after bedtime.
The whining. The hitting. The yelling. The tantrums. The constant attempts at scaling dangerous heights. The complete disregard for self preservation. The “mama mama mama mama mama” 46 times in a row every 15 minutes. The “go away” and “don’t like you” declarations. The feeling that no matter what I do, it’s not right. Then, add on the housework that never actually gets done. The dishes that pile up because a two year old is digging his nails into me out of frustration that he doesn’t have my attention. The laundry that has become my life. The meals that need to be made. The meals that need to be cleaned up. The toys that are literally everywhere despite my best attempts at order. The people who remind me how much “free time” I have or make snarky comments about how some people have to go to work every day. The calls that need to be made and visits that need to be scheduled and bills that need to be paid and…. the list can go on. All of it has been brutal and has left this mama laying in bed many nights wondering how she has failed so badly at this motherhood thing.
My job, as the mom, is to meet chaos with calmness. To get down and parent with authority and love. To meet his crazy with sanity. To guide. I understood that going into this. What I did not understand was how emotionally draining guiding ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY would be.
Through it all, I’ve held steady to the fact that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love being a SAHM. This is the right choice for me. Over and over, I’ve said it. Until I was forced to really soul search and examine whether this was still the case — or, am I like the boy whistling in the dark.
I spent a solid week and a half really digging deep. Do I love this life as much as I claim? Or am I trying to convince myself that this is what I want out of a sense of obligation?
The short answer is yes.
Stay at home mom life is a job in the sense that it is work. Often highly underestimated or undervalued work. But, work none the less. I have yet to meet a single person who loves going to their job every single day. I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t had periods at work where they’ve felt like they simply just can’t do it anymore. I have friends who I know have hated their jobs for a period of time because of current circumstances but stayed put because they knew it was temporary and loved their career. If we are comparing this SAHM thing to a job, let’s run with that analogy. At the end of the day, I don’t love my job every day. There are often actually entire weeks when “love” wouldn’t be the word I choose. But I love my career. I love the big picture that gets lost in the day to day. I love the opportunity to be the one guiding Mateo through this thing we call life. For me, that is a gift I can’t ever repay to the universe.
No. I do not want to play Thomas the Tank Engine one more time today. I have absolutely no interest in explaining why you can’t eat from the trash can again. I am really sorry you seem to be hysterical but I have no idea what the problem is and since I clearly can’t fix it, I’m just going to be over here. My love of trying to compel my kid to eat has dwindled dramatically. The minute to minute of SAHM life often is not my favorite. It’s hard. And it would be for anyone. I pour my heart and soul into parenting the heck out of this kid and some days all I get is whining, crying and throwing things. That’s bound to not feel good.
But when I look at it from a bigger picture standpoint – rather than a day to day mindset – I absolutely would not choose to be anywhere else unless I had to. At least once a day something happens to remind me why this is the life for me. At least once a day Mateo will smile up and say I love you. Or “thank you mama”. Or bust out a new sentence that just floors me. Often, five minutes later, the reverie has ended after he’s intentionally poured his milk all over the floor. I get to be there for it all. I get to watch him learn how to think, how to be, how to do… I get to watch him develop into the little guy he’s becoming on an hourly basis. I get to see the “aha” moments when something clicks for him. Those moments. Man, I live for those quiet moments of sweetness. I mean, it’s a big part of the reason why I craft with him. I love getting to see his mind focus and work and listen to what he comes up with. Seven years ago this seemed out of the realm of possibilities for me. No one would have imagined that this would be my life. And it’s not one that I wanted back then. Now that I have it, I’m beyond dedicated to giving it everything I’ve got. Even on the roughest days, I have a life I never thought was possible for me and I’m determined to soak up every single minute of it. Even if “soaking it up” sometimes means hiding in the bathroom eating cake.
Like all good periods of introspection, there were a few lessons learned.
First is the idea of the difference between pain and suffering. Pain in inevitable. Suffering is a choice. The “pain” of dealing with a cranky, strong willed, tantruming toddler is inevitable. The suffering I’ve brought upon myself by insisting that I do it all, be the perfect mother, and keep a house that’s immaculate is voluntarily. Somewhere along the way I created a set of massively unrealistic expectations for myself. And, as a direct result of those expectations, I often feel like a failure. When looked at from that lens, feeling like a failure is a choice. A quick scroll through my camera roll or a mental review of the past week will quickly remind me that my kid adores me. We do a shit ton of things together. He’s not at all deprived of love. He’s got activities and friends and crafts and food and me. What I often forget is that Mama is what he wants most. He doesn’t care if he has 10 friends or 2. He doesn’t care if he goes to 3 classes a week or one. He wants to know his mama loves him. And I feel strongly he does. Holding on to that fiercely, I’m trying to be gentler on myself.
Secondly, parenting is hard for everyone. Not just me. Soul searching a bit revealed some old ideas that simply aren’t true. There’s a part of me that believes that this should not be hard. That is not hard for others and if I was simply “better at it”, it would feel like a breeze. Or, at the very least, wouldn’t result in tears on my end. The more I talk to moms of toddlers (stay at home moms AND moms who work outside of the home), the more I hear their struggles. This is not easy for anyone. Then I talk to moms of older kids and hear their struggles. Nope, still not easy for them. Parenting wasn’t designed to be easy so the idea that it should never feel unbelievably hard to me is ridiculous. Yet it was one that I’ve been carrying around.
Lastly, we need a routine. Our days are full and lovely and no one would accuse us of loafing around all day. But they lack predictable routine. From what I read, this will significantly help Mateo feel more centered in his day to day and perhaps (just maybe) act a little less nuts. So, there you have it. I’ll get busy!
There it is. It took a while for me to get real enough to truly examine whether this is still where I want to be. The idea that maybe SAHM life wasn’t what I was cut out for was an embarrassing one. But, I’m glad I took the time to get clearer on why – exactly – this is where I choose to be. Day in and day out. Until he goes to school full time 🙂