I am pretty sure I am having some kind of a breakdown. It’s not a midlife crisis because I definitely plan on living way past 82, but it’s a crisis nonetheless. Basically, I’m losing my doo-doo.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t always been begging my husband to send me away to a special kind of spa resort for stay-at-home moms who are all muttering, “What was I thinking?” in various corners of a padded room, over and over again. I had a great summer with my kids. I was even able to get them to routinely do chores. The carrot was the new puppy for sure, but I credit the kids for staying with the feeding, the walking and the clearing and rinsing of the dishes well after the puppy was no longer new.
I entered fall feeling very calm, very in control – superior even. I was Super Mom! My billowing pink and white polka dot cape with an SM monogram flowed as my obedient, well-adjusted children walked behind me with gigantic “I LOVE MOM!” signs chanting “Our mom’s the best! Our mom’s the BEST!!!” But oh, how the worm has turned.
I’m not sure what happened. In my objective opinion, I had a really long run as an awesome mom. I will say that the beginning of school did not help. The first morning the kids had to go to school, no one got up. No one got up even though they were getting up happily, easily and on their very own all summer long. So, suffice to say, the first day of school began with a battle. “Good morning!” “What would you like for breakfast?” and “Take your time” turned quickly into, “Get up!” “Eat!” and “You’re going to miss the bus!”
As I shooed my kids against their will out the door and off to school, my awesome mom standing plummeted exponentially. I could feel the chill in the air. My once warm and loving children now saw me as the enemy. They forgot all about the good times: how I served them homemade chocolate chip pancakes every morning without fail, sweet-talked their daddy into a third dog after he had said “absolutely NOT!” and even let them name the teeny-tiny rat terrier “Nelly” after the rapper. And they completely forgot what an excellent Shrinky Dink tracer I was. In the good ol’ days, they used to fight over who would get my steady hand first. Now I was simply a cross to bear – up there with homework and shots.
Being a stay-at-home mom is complicated. You put on hold (or forever sometimes) your “other” life. The life you had before you surrounded yourself 24-7 with spit up, diapers, homework, boys, girls, acne, prom … the life where you got a paycheck and adult co-workers. The life where the majority of your day was spent outside of the home and when you came back, it was your sanctuary. I love my kids, but sometimes I feel terribly off balance. I berate myself for having a tornado of a house and yet others compliment my willingness to “turn over” almost every room to the kids and their cars, puzzles, Legos and art projects. When you walk into our house, it is clear that it is a home. No room goes unused. There is no untouchable item, no white carpeting.
When we decided to have a family, we wanted to minimize the redirecting around living life. I think we have done a solid job in terms of that. However, sometimes I’d like something new and perfect to stay new and perfect for longer than 30 seconds. Sometimes I yearn for a life outside of and in addition to my kids. Sometimes I think it would make me better at being a parent. My husband gets a four-star rating from the kids regularly and he seems able to embrace every learning/bonding/developmental moment that has ever existed between parent and child. I think some of that come from the balance he is able to create between work and home. (That, and he has the patience and discipline style of Gandhi.)
So I feel like I am at somewhat of a crossroads. And this is not new news. I believe most stay-at-home parents – and most working parents – come to a place of questioning at some point. “What am I doing?” and “Where do I go from here?” So, I am going to let these questions ferment for now. I am grateful for having the time and the choice to do just that. Right now I have four of the toughest bosses I have ever had: I need to remind them to thank me for a job well done and they never, ever offer me a raise. At the same time, there is no other job where I would take so much to heart. To see my kids off from the beginning of the day to the end of their night is a gift that I cherish. So maybe the cape is a little tattered. And maybe that’s OK. Because let’s face it – who’s getting a raise these days anyway? …