There are many days I feel my fate dealt me a cruel blow by not making me independently wealthy. But I’m a social worker who married an artist, so the reality of my situation is that I have to work to help support the family.
Once I had kids, I went back to work four days a week. So, I’m home on Mondays and then work four longer days. I tell people that Monday is my day I get to pretend I’m a Stay at Home Mom (or SAHM for those of us who like buzzy abbreviations).
Mondays can be pretty stinking awesome.
For one thing, I get to spend some quality alone time with my three-year-old, Emily, while my seven-year-old, Jack is at school. Before Em was born I relished every second with little Jack. Oh the trips to the playground, ice cream cones, and hours snuggled on the couch watching Disney movies!
Now it is Emily’s turn. Then the three of us get to be together for a few hours in the afternoon before my husband comes home. Once the hubz comes home, we all eat dinner together and I take Jack to karate. Pure bliss.
An added bonus is that on Mondays I get to keep the house in a lovely state. I mean, it’s not Martha Stewart quality, but it’s pretty decent. It smells like vanilla, coconut, or vetiver. The recycling gets put out, sheets get changed, the butter dish gets washed, and I usually make some semblance of a healthy meal for dinner.
I buzz around the kitchen preparing fresh fruit for the children. We all stay marvelously hydrated. Our bowels are relaxed and friendly.
While Emily naps I enjoy some tea and a repeat (or two!) of Grey’s Anatomy on Lifetime. Sometimes I bake cookies for the kids to enjoy after school. Sometimes I bake cookies with the kids, and delight in a shared experience, knowing I am providing my children creative, sensory activity.
On these days, I find myself all like, hey, look at me! I am rocking this party! I am so freaking in love with my children, and they are totally adoring me. I must be the mother of the freaking year! I could have been a contender for freaking stay at home mother of the world! I even showered and put on make up today, folks!
It’s good stuff.
Then Tuesday through Friday comes and I barely see the children. My husband becomes the primary caregiver, responsible for drop offs and pick ups, as I work longer, less-flexible hours. Meals are much less organized (and less healthy. . . sometimes there are Happy Meals– don’t judge!) We become tense and snippy with each other. Our tummies become tight and ornery.
But it is a reality that has worked for us, because it has to, more or less for the past seven years.
Sometimes a lot less, it feels.
It is easy to wax idyllic about what life would be like as a SAHM. Maybe we would belong to a pool club in the summer. Or maybe I would be all into Pinterest.
But then, there are those “other” Mondays with the kids.
You know, the ones where Jack comes home ticking like a time bomb from his shift in the grist mill of academia?
The ones where Emily doesn’t nap no matter how much I cajole, promise Snow White and lollipops when she wakes up or threaten to take shit away, she just. won’t. nap. and thus is exhausted and grumpers by 4 p.m.?
The ones where I am in no mood for cooking a pot of boiling water, let alone a balanced meal for anyone?
Yeah, those days.
Those are the days when despite my brightest reasoning act (complete with jazz hands), Jack insists that he has a right to a cupcake for dinner and throws the mother of all tantrums for close to an hour. Did I mention he is SEVEN?! I mean, come on, weren’t we supposed to be past that like three years ago?
Those are the days when Emily (who hasn’t napped), switches over into hyper-drive and is twirling in circles, making this high pitched noise that I swear has all the dogs in the neighborhood howling along with her, and is driving me silently insane, but is driving her big brother (who came home nasty from school) very noisily insane.
Those are the days when, non-practicing-buddhist-atheist-Jew-that-I-am, I want to kneel down to whatever deity invented wine and is going to allow me to go to work and get the fuck out of this crazy town the next day.
Then I feel like a shitty person, because moms are supposed to want to be with their precious angels, no matter what, all day forever world without end, right?
Gosh. I love my kids. I fucking love them.
But motherhood is so. fucking. hard.
(It also makes you say the “F” word more than you used to, but you know, not in front of the kids…)
I think whatever flavor of mom you are in this society– SAHM, working mom, work at home mom, single mom, part time working mom, whatever!– it is just really hard. I mean, can we just honor that? Like for a moment?
Everyone in this world has some kind of opinion, and there is a new Huffpost article every day to tell us how wrong we are getting everything. Any and everyone who can connect to digital media has an opinion and they are going to post it to try to convince me I am a bad mom because I said the five wrong things, or I fed my family soy, or I breastfed too long/not long enough. I’m not “attachment” enough. I’m not strict enough. I’m screwing up these tiny humans, that I love almost beyond reason, one day at a time.
It all makes me a nervous wreck. I sit in my car in the morning, preparing for my commute to work, and I am not sure if I should feel guilty for missing my kids, or for feeling a tiny reprieve.
Some people nail it. Some people have exuberant energy and can juggle everything just so. Some people that are just not me.
Look, I just want to love my kids and not feel guilty about working, or not working, or feeling burnt out, or yelling, or going through a drive through because it’s one of those days.
I just want to love my family, and I swear to you, I am doing my absolute best. But sometimes I have those days, and it is really hard to keep things in perspective.
So, maybe I could have been a super hip SAHM. And maybe I’m not the greatest working mom.
But I am the mom that I am.
And I love my kids.
If nothing else, I do love them.