Saturday, March 15, 2008

Confession is Good for the Judge

When the rooster was only about seven months old, we drove about 45 minutes south to see his grandparents, and we left him to play with them while we went out for lunch - a rare treat. At that time, it still made sense that the rooster spent almost all of his time with my husband and me, and we enjoyed that enough that we didn't actually find ourselves yearning too strongly for babysitters. After all, I had not been back at work long, and sometimes I secretly wished I could afford to stay at home for a year or two. In his pre-mobile, pre-verbal days, the rooster presented many challenges still, but he also melted me into a puddle; I could pass the hours just watching him, smelling him, tickling and kissing. And then, of course, my husband would say, "Hey! My turn!" And I realized we needed some date time.

So after we went out for lunch that day, we stopped in a store and bought a birthday gift. We asked the sales girl a question about our purchase, and she said she would have to check, as she had not been in the shop for several days. Then she said something that stuck with me, that comes back to me often. She said, "Work days are they days I'm at home with my children. This is what I do with my time off!"

I have written before about how judgmental I can be, and how I hope I am working on that. At the time, I considered this woman's comments and I judged her to be callous, insensitive. Poor kids, I thought.

Ha! Perhaps I'm getting taught my lesson the hard way once again.

On a regular basis, people tell me, "I don't know how you do it, working full times, having two kids..." They trail off, but the unsaid comments hang there anyway, of course. They know I don't just have two kids, but that I have a special sort of rooster. The truth is, I understand what the salesperson meant. I have long since stopped saying TGIF. Sometimes I dread the weekend. Some Mondays, when I am candid about what I did over the weekend, I say, "I survived." Parents who stay at home with their children have my utmost respect, have my admiration, they make me realize my inadequecies.

Could the rooster and I manage spending all our days together? I ponder this as we consider where there might be school that fits his needs, and what to do if we can't find one. Financially, this terrifies my husband and me. We rely on dual incomes to keep the roof over our heads. But we also know that we will do whatever the rooster needs, that all options remain on the table, and so the question begs revisiting. If the rooster and I could manage spending all our days together, would it help him, or hurt him? And what does that question say about me? About what kind of person I am that the question needs asking to begin with?

I have a little routine with the kids. I ask them, "How much does mommy love you?" They say, "So big!" I ask, "For how long?" They shout, "Forever." I have loved them since before I met them, I love them with fervor, but I know my love has flaws. My love is constant, but suffers from my mood swings. My love has no limits, but it does show itself darkly at times. I know what wedding vows say about patience and kindness, but boundless love does not make me perfect. It's hard to admit, hard to write about, but I don't know if all the love in the world would make me a successful stay-at-home mom to the rooster.

Today is Saturday. So far we've been to the bakery, the park, and for a drive. We've played in the back yard, taken baths, eaten lunch. We've photographed precious moments, had hugs and kisses, we even spent a good fifteen minutes watching a squirrel steal an orange off our tree and eat it on the back porch. These are treasured moments. These are the ones that get me through the other ones, the ones I don't feel like writing about today, the ones that have me looking at the clock, calculating that bed time is still more than four hours away.

Judge me, and I don't blame you. I deserve it. But tomorrow, I know part of me will be thinking, TGIS.


Niksmom said...

Oh, fear not, G! Even we SAHM's have our dark days and moments of wishing we could ship our kids off somewhere for a few hours...or days. Sometimes, I get envious of my husband heading off to school, to work...out in the world of adults and autonomy.

"If the rooster and I could manage spending all our days together, would it help him, or hurt him? And what does that question say about me? About what kind of person I am that the question needs asking to begin with?" I htink it makes you a thoughtful, caring mother that you would consider the longer term effects on your child and not just your own needs. It is NOT an easy path, I can attest, to homeschool. There are days I wonder and worry if I am doing the right thing for Nik. For right now I know I am. As he gets older, better able to communicate with others, more curious about the world around him? We are taking it one step at a time.

You merely voiced some thoughts which many, many mothers have but will not or cannot voice aloud.

Christine said...

Hey, I used to say something similar all the time. I would tell people that I went to work to rest. And it was true. Being at home with Oliver WAS exhausting. And that was from the very beginning before I really understood why it was so exhausting. I just thought I wasn't a very good mother. I wasn't naturally inclined towards motherhood. But honestly? I just didn't know HOW to help Oliver and give him the supports that he needed so of course it was exhausting for BOTH of us. But that has changed and I am happier than I have ever been now that I am home with him full time. I don't feel divided any more.

Anonymous said...

At some point in my life, before kids, I knew I wanted to be a SAHM. Before kids, I also researched homeschooling and was definitely planning on it. Then we had J. I still stay home, but I am grateful that he goes to school, even if it is only 2 hours a day 4 days a week. I am a better mom for the time we spend apart.
Some days I still consider homeschooling. Then Wednesday, his day off, comes and I realize how stupid that would be and how unhappy the two of us would be.
Its okay if staying home is not for you and Rooster. We all have a different sense of "normal," "comfortable," and "sanity."