It's been raining non-stop for exactly one whole week in Atlanta now. I thought that seasonal affective disorder was kind of an exaggeration, but the greyness coupled with the incessant raindrops in the last week are enough to make me a believer. But honestly, it's not just the weather that's making me feel a little less than fabulous today. It's because I'm exhausted.
Before I get into it, let me put this on the table: having a brand new baby around is an amazing and beautiful thing. It tugs at your heart strings, tests every fiber of your patience, makes you question how good you actually are at taking care of another tiny being (let alone yourself) and leaves you bleary-eyed and foggy. It's a magical experience to witness their first smiles or laughs. To figure out what makes them happy and sad. To have your heart explode with love over and over and over. It's realizing that everything you thought you wanted suddenly is so unimportant or is less important because the needs of your child far surpass anything you could have ever imagined. And then they start crawling and walking and talking and before you know it, you've got a toddler who can hold conversations with you and use reason and logic to figure things out. It is mind-blowing and awesome. I wouldn't ever trade this life in for something else. I am a stay-at-home mom and I am proud of that. I'm thankful for the honor and privilege I have to be able to raise two kids while my husband works his ass off to make sure we have the lifestyle we have. I'm grateful that I can go about my day in pajamas or sweatpants or some combination of that repeated wardrobe choice. I can have dirty hair and no make-up and smell like some weird fragrance of breastmilk and baby poop and not worry that my kids will think any less of me. (I'm really selling being a SAHM, aren't I?)
Yet, despite the love I have for what I do, there are days when all I want to do is throw in the towel, hide under my blanket and quit. Were you expecting me to say that? Doesn't everyone hate their job at least sometimes? Surely, there isn't someone who loves what they do 24 hours a day. Right?
Real talk: raise your hand if you've had or are having a shitty day at work. I'll be honest. I'm having a one today, only I'm not at work. I'm at home with the kids. And this isn't a job. It's life. It's being a parent. But for the sake of keeping it linear and clear-cut, let's call it a job. I "work" in a place with two very demanding people under the age of five. I'd like to think I'm "self-employed" or that I'm their "boss", but who am I kidding? I'm actually working for them. I'm each child's personal assistant, chauffeur, nanny, nurse, chef, pal and teacher. It's not like they're super chill, either. Anaïs goes from zero to sixty in five seconds flat and Akira is a ticking time bomb when he isn't fed in a timely fashion. I can't take fifteen minutes of time to myself in a break room and have a silent lunch. And I'm left feeding one of them every 2-3 hours. Think about that for a second. What other activity in life do you have to do every 2-3 hours? A girlfriend of mine pointed that out and reminded me that we don't do anything for ourselves every 2-3 hours. Nothing! When one naps, the other needs my undivided attention whether its for help opening her play-doh, help finding a dress-up toy or just wanting me to sit with her to talk about everything and nothing at the same time. I don't walk out the door and blend in with the rest of the world and feel autonomous for a few hours a day. No, when I walk out the door to run errands, my "bosses" come along--one in the carseat that I'm carrying on one arm and a toddler on my other side constantly tugging at some part of my body. Along with midwives, doulas, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, who else is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? You guessed it: mothers! Then there's the constant cleaning. Oh, my god, the cleaning. It's like you are picking up and straightening up the house after an all-night rager that you weren't even invited to. All day. Every day. Not only do I have to keep both eyes on each child simultaneously (oh, it takes talent, trust me), the rest of our daily living still needs to be maintained. Dinner still has to be made. The laundry still has to be done. And the vacuum cleaner still has to be run.
It's a total cliché--feeling like the over-tired, under-appreciated, oft-overlooked mom. I see it. And I'm cringing as I write this. I never thought I'd actually sit here and write something remotely resembling this. I've read and enjoyed and related to many a post about being a SAHM. But I never thought I'd be one to join the circle of women who shared the same sentiments.
Yet!! YET, (and please let me be brutally honest here) for all of those times that I've felt invisible, there are an equal amount of times (or more) when I've felt invincible. There are moments when everything just clicks and the days flow seamlessly. Those are the days that feel victorious. Those are the days that remind me of why I chose to stay at home. Those are the days that encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing. Those are the ones that make me feel like even though I'm not winning any bread, I am molding and shaping two humans. People. Members of society. Those are the days when I pat myself on the back for "doing a good job". I don't get a biweekly paycheck directly deposited into my bank account. I don't get a bonus based on performance. I mean, I don't even get a performance review (which, honestly, I'd love to get from my three-year-old). But I do get "paid" in hugs and kisses and love and everything intangible but genuinely heartfelt. So maybe I'm harder on myself than I should be because I expect to be able to just do it. I place those expectations on myself to be able to run a household and take care of children because it's what I want to do. It's what I choose to do. And it's what I love to do.
Except today. I don't love what I do today. And that's totally ok.