Let me start this post by disclaiming a few indisputable facts:
1) I love being a mother, and in fact, I love being a stay-at-home mother.
2) You can love something and not much like it sometimes.
3) There should be no guilt associated with that feeling although there often is.
People often suggest that I should have another child: try for the girl; you’re so good at this, you should definitely have more kids; just look at how you rebound from pregnancy- you’re made for birthing. Thank you for those compliments, but let me just tell you that my answer is a loud, affirming, assured NO.
I couldn’t, in any way, do it without radically overhauling our family’s ways of functioning. What that would really mean would be changing the way that I am a mother, and that, I wouldn’t feel good about. I find that most days are a struggle to maintain balance, calm, discipline, down time, up time, play time, me time, and that’s before I attempt to cook, clean, stay in touch with friends, read, work, walk the dog, remember that I have a dog, and so forth. That I am without reserve in doing all this is the primary reason that I know I can’t have more children, even if that were something I wanted, which it is not. Simply put, I’m tired of being tired.
Some Moms don’t feel this, others are loathe to admit it. Some Moms couldn’t conceive of not working, others don’t have the choice, still others are dedicated to staying home. Some are rigid, some aren’t, some seem happy to put things in their own lives on hold for their kids, others struggle mightily not to resent doing so. Tome upon tome has been written about the gauntlet of parenthood, attempts to parse the ways it does and does not provide joy, support the case for women finally being able to “have it all, do it all” but at the end of the day, can they? should they?
This past Father’s Day, I couldn’t help but notice the many women I saw out with their kids (I was one of them), strolling through the farmers market, playing at the park, giving the Dads the morning or day off. Most, and I’m not exaggerating, of these women looked exhausted, frazzled, shredded, and I am not exempting myself. One woman even schlepped her kids to the pilates class I attended, shooting dagger-eyed looks at her girls who didn’t want to be there, weren’t even allowed to be there but who actually were being extremely well-behaved.
While I thought that bringing the kids was a bad move on the mom’s part, I was sure that she was trying to honor her husband on Father’s Day and let him have a break. And I fully understood her desperation to do a little something for herself in the confines of still being the primary parent at that time.
This is really hard, this being a parent, and I wish there were more of a supportive, accepted, public dialogue about it all. It’s not always fun; in fact, it’s mind-numbingly dull and chaotic sometimes, and it’s never easy. And women shouldn’t have to sit alone with those feelings or apologize before talking about them. Women shouldn’t judge the experiences other moms are having. Some parents do just groove on the whole process, for others it’s a slow shedding of all they felt they once were. And that’s really hard.
So as I sit here writing, trying to figure out my own thoughts and feelings on my wonderful boys and staying at home with them which I value, enthusiastically opted into and feel grateful to do yet often simultaneously counting the moments until bedtime, managing the moments of “I just can’t hear any more whining/questions/comments about poop”, I am sending out vibes of acceptance, love and appreciation to all the moms out there who are just doing their best, as I am. Be kind and good to yourselves when you feel moments of sadness and doubt- it’s OK. And you can feel all this and still adore your kids more than anything.