Stay-at-Home Mom Angst
Today was one of those days when I felt a little bit adrift and alone as a stay-at-home mom. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the fact that BabyC, although she is super cute 95% of the time, spent the other 5% of the time practicing her high-pitched scream. Maybe it was the food poisoning that had me up puking all Tuesday night and in bed with a fever and achiness all day Wednesday. Today is Thursday, and I should be all better, right? Lucky me that I don’t have to go to work and instead live this idyllic life of the stay-at-home mom, putting around the house and playing with my adorable child.
Whenever I even think about complaining about my life, I feel obligated to remind myself and everyone else that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I think. I am really really lucky to be able to stay at home with my child right now. I do cherish all the time that I have with BabyC. In fact, I usually feel pretty good about life when BabyC is awake. She is really fun at this age, and it is hard to not appreciate her joy in movement and discovery.
I think the rough spots come at the end of the day, after BabyC goes to sleep, when I might pause to think about what I accomplished on this day. This is how I am wired – to find satisfaction in achievement. Maybe that’s what years of grad school and postdoc do to a person. In the early weeks of being a mama, I set goals for myself like “get out for a walk every day” or “wash and fold one load of laundry.” At the end of the day, I would have a great sense of satisfaction that I had indeed met those goals in addition to feeding my child for half of my waking and sleeping hours and toting her around the rest of the time. Now that the mother-load has lightened a bit, I guess laundry doesn’t do it for me anymore. What I am missing is the sense of self-worth that came at the end of a workday.
Let’s be honest. There were plenty of workdays when I came home feeling like I should have just stayed in bed, because my experiment failed or I spent all day putting out fires or my heart just wasn’t in it. I don’t really miss it all that much. I get to soak up all the smiles that my baby constantly throws at me. For at least most of every day, my heart is definitely in it. Still, it surprises me how hard it is. This, even though plenty of stay-at-home moms told me as much back when I thought they had it made.
Last week I was talking with a friend who just started a new job that is a supervisory position loaded with pressure and responsibility. She was saying that it is a little surreal, because a couple of years ago she looked at this position and couldn’t imagine herself in it, and now here she is, doing it and doing it well. I guess being a mother can be sort of like that. A few months ago, I didn’t know if we would ever have a good nap routine, but now here we are having amazing naps every day. Nope, it’s not really the same. The naps might have happened with or without my influence, and nobody cares as much as me anyway. Talking to my friend, I realized that one of my fears of being a stay-at-home mom was losing that sense of accomplishment that comes when you go out and do something you never imagined you would be able to do. That kind of satisfaction doesn’t come without tackling something really hard. Being a parent is really hard and really satisfying, but I guess what I need is to do some small thing, outside of being a mother, that surprises even myself.