“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
-Dr. Bhola Rijal
We crunched across the snow-covered road to the awaiting van this morning, one kid's small hand in each of mine. My eyes darted down the street for oncoming traffic before I instructed Spencer to walk around to his side of the van and crawl in. I loaded up Ashton and then went around to help Spencer buckle himself in. Once I was sitting behind the steering wheel, ready to maneauver the vehicle onto the road, I spied the boys in the backseat through the rear view mirror. Smiling, I said, "Have I told you guys lately how much I love you?"
"Yes! You told us a hundred times!" Spencer squealed.
"Oh, well, I just love you so much!" I chime back, knowing that's exactly how he'd respond. "Thank you guys for being so good today. You were awesome!"
"Awesome, awesome, awesome!" Ashton piped in, enjoying the praise.
This scene is a nice change of pace from yesterday, where the praise and adoration were few and far between. Yesterday was filled with lots of crying and whining and meltdowns, which lead to loss of patience and yelling. Today is the norm, but yesterday's events are gradually becoming more frequent visitors in our house, too.
When I made the difficult decision to transition from a working mom to a stay at home mom, I wrote out a list. My mind works best when it's organized nicely. Pros. Cons. The whole shebang. There were various items on the Cons section of the list, but none of them included the loss of me as a person. I never anticipated that I'd feel so much less like the Angie I knew once I stopped punching a clock. It wasn't something that manifested overnight. I didn't even realized it happened until one day I was screaming at my kid and desperate for a minute to hear my own thoughts. When you feel like a complete failure at the thing you wanted most, then you start analyzing things from a different perspective.
Do I want this lifestyle? Did I make the right decision? Is this the right path for me? Who am I?
These are hard questions I ask myself occasionally. And the answers never come easily. Yes, I love being home with my kids, experiencing every mundane moment of their lives, speaking their language, knowing intuitively what they need, being able to anticipate every bump in their day and how to navigate through them. But just because I love it and want it, doesn't mean every single second of it is easy or enjoyable. This stay at home mom business is hard.
I've now been a stay at home mom longer than I was a working mom. Because of this I almost forget how the other percentage of moms exist. I almost envy them. Come Monday after a grueling weekend of needy, whiny children, they can drop off the kids with a loving, trusting adult and escape at the workplace. I also seem to forget the long stretches of time they are without their kids, missing them, wondering what their days are like, not experiencing all the mundane things, sacrificing so much.
Most days I'm exhausted, desperate for a few quiet minutes where someone isn't pawing at my legs or whining for my attention. And most days I'm so fulfilled and overcome with the love for the little creatures that exhaust me. How can something be both draining and satisfying?
Last night after I had a chance to wind down and sort through my thoughts, I posted a picture on Instagram with a caption that read:
Do you ever get stuck in those ruts where it's "me, me, me"? Always dwelling on the fact that there's little left of "me" at the end of the day? I'm in one of those ruts right now. I become annoyed when my boys need me for everything. And no I don't want to play trains AGAIN. Please can't you just be quiet so I can hear myself think? Etc etc etc. You know the drill. I need to rally and emerge from this rut. It's hard to enjoy all life's beauty when I'm begrudging everything and everyone.
And out flowed so much generosity from my followers, so much wisdom and advice and camaraderie among us parents. It was exactly what I needed, a nice swift kick in the butt. So maybe every day isn't picture-perfect. Maybe a lot of days leave me exhausted and wondering if I'm cut out for this job. Maybe I've lost a bit of myself in the process. Maybe after three years I'm still trying to figure out how to be a stay at home mom. And maybe I'll never really figure it out. But I'm learning. Some days will be like today, where the boys listen and share and play nicely; and we spend the last bits of the morning chasing each other around the house, shrieking about an invisible monster who has invaded our house and is going to eat us up if we don't escape. And some days will be like yesterday where I need to dig a hole to hide until I can reemerge with a new perspective. Luckily I have a sympathetic husband who gets me, who knows without asking exactly when I need a break.
I'm learning about the Seasons of a Stay at Home Mom, and it's been a tough lesson to learn. I'm an eager student and ready to soak up any knowledge anyone wants to throw my way.