Monthly Archives: July 2011

I Quit! Oh, Wait. I Can’t.

There’s no pretty way to say this, so I’ll just dive right in. I am totally sick of being a stay at home mother. I’m just kind of . . . sick of it. It’s been over five years now. Five wonderful years, full of the exact same stuff. And I’m just sick of it. And I’m sick of feeling bad for feeling sick of it, and I’m pretty tired too, of feeling like I can’t talk about being sick of it without sounding like a total asshole, and because the response to it is usually the same. Yes, I love my kids. Yes, being home with them has been rewarding. In fact, the rewards far outweigh the personal consequence. And yes, I have treasured most every moment (not the vomit) with the boys. This isn’t about that. It isn’t about regret. And it isn’t about me wanting you to fix it for me, which I realize is hard to not want to do. It isn’t fixable, because truly, for as much as I wish it could be different, I also wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s seriously, and quite simply just about me. And in my world, it is rarely about me.

Let’s face it, being a mom is extremely, er . . . humbling. Every single person in the home is more important than you. The needs of the family, the career of the spouse, even the needs of the home all come before the needs of the mother. And I consider myself a mom that lives in a pretty freaking progressive home, with a man that supports most everything that I do. But when it comes down to it, I still come last. And it sucks. I realize that having children is the “biggest sacrifice we will ever make” (blech). It’s just that, a lot of the time, by the end of the day, I feel as if I just sacrificed the life force right the fuck out of me.

And the guilt! Holy shit, the guilt! I feel terrible writing this! But, I feel terrible keeping it in! I’ve struggled with this all week, and even now as I write I feel sick to my stomach. Maybe I’m just having a hard week, and I’ll feel better tomorrow. I suppose I don’t have a choice. I’ve got 3 more years of this. And the irony is, I wouldn’t have my life be any other way. I chose to be home with the boys, and I wouldn’t choose differently. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting more. And I want more—very specific mores—all the time. I want them, and I try to actually achieve them, and then halfway to my goal I realize, oh! I have two kids! And I have no time to do anything else!

It’s funny, but I think I may actually be a bit overambitious. Not academically, much to my parents’ chagrin, but with the kids, and my adult life. Actually, now that I think about it, it probably started sooner than that—I always did take the biggest bong hits of all of my friends, thus acquiring the nickname “Lungs,” which made me feel special at the time. My drive to excel must have started then. Yeah, that makes sense.

I need to find a way to get all Zen about this motherhood thing. It just dawned on me recently (I’m a little slow on the uptake—could it have been the bong hits?) that I, unlike a lot of other people, am really still struggling to accept the fact that I am a mother. It continually surprises me. That may make me sound a little, well, slow. But it’s a fact, jack! But just like the adorable overambitious woman that I am, I keep plugging away at it. Most of the time, I have this deep sense of shame for all of the things I should be doing for them, but don’t. Like feeding them.

Oh, come on. Of course I feed them!

But seriously, I have to start thinking about things that just aren’t in my consciousness! Like, first grade.

Oh, SIPNEL, the very thought of that exhausts me. Or the fact that soon, very soon, my kids will be doing algebra and I will have to admit to them that even in college I couldn’t pass pre-algebra. (See? Not so overambitious in academics.)

And recently I thought, Hey! I should add another shift at work! I have a sitter that the boys like, and I can work a little more, make some more money so we can possibly buy a car in the next 10 years. But after 2 weeks of it, I remembered that I have two small children. It, like, totally slipped my mind. Do you know what reminded me? Finding out from the sitter that the third week I was working my new schedule, Rowan sat in front of the computer staring at a picture of us together and crying for the entire time that the sitter was here. The entire time, people! Not to mention that I began forgetting to do simple, ordinary things like, say, pay our rent. My brain! It suffers so!

I have a friend who, lately, has been calling me with increasingly exciting news about (his/her) life. (He/she) has very recently had a lot of professional success, and it has been leading to some pretty amazing opportunities. And I am seething with jealousy. I’m a horrible person. In all honesty, I avoid phone calls from this person. (No, it isn’t you. Or you, either. I’m pretty sure this person is far too busy with really exciting stuff to read my blog.) And when we do talk, I have to work extremely hard to sound delighted for (him/her). Not that I want to be doing what they are doing, simply that they are doing so much. All the time! And it’s good, healthy, fulfilling stuff. He/she actually said to me the other day, “It’s been awesome. I have been writing all day, every day for weeks.” And I thought, “I’ve been trying to put the laundry away all day, every day, for weeks.” Fucker.

Alright, yes, this is a person without children. And again, yes, this person has chosen professional success over personal success. I totally get that. To me, though, these things are hard to separate. Right now, I feel both extremely grateful to be home with the kids, and totally resentful at the exact same time. Which makes perfect sense, since I live in a constant paradox.

Constant. Paradox.

There are a lot of things that I want out of my life that, professionally, really excite me. There are a lot of other things, besides being a mother that I happen to be good at. And I can’t seem to do any of them in the way that I would like. It seems as if everything is a struggle. Some of you may be thinking, well, but you are making jewelry all the time, but if you could watch me do it, you would need to be committed afterwards. Because it’s crazy! And blogging! Here is a little snippet of reality for you:

I just got up three times in five minutes to give Luca a different book (each time) to read while he poops. The entire time he has been singing the theme song to “The Muppet Show” while also plugging his nose with one hand because “my poop is very stinky.”

Make that four times. (But not before he cried for 10 minutes because I refused to get him another book.)

It has taken me 30 minutes to write 3 sentences. I could fold the laundry, sweep and mop the floor, clean the bathroom, and make dinner in 30 minutes if no one bugged me, or needed me.

But really, I seem to think that whatever I can imagine doing, should be doable, now. And when it isn’t—and mostly, it really isn’t—I feel frustrated and pissed off about it. I really can’t seem to get all Zen about it, which would come in really freaking handy. I want to be able to write every day. I want to be able to exercise. I want to make paper and do my beading without someone climbing on me. I want to do more massage, and teach again. I can’t remember the last time I did some leisurely window-shopping. I can’t remember the last time I did leisurely anything.

I yearn to talk about other stuff. To actually talk about them, not start a conversation about them, only to be interrupted after the second sentence. Movies, books, traveling, work: I want to talk about these things so badly. At the end of the day, I sometimes have to ask John to stop talking about the kids, because frankly, I just need to not think or talk about the kids for, like, an hour.

Here’s a conversation that I’m sick of having:

“Hey hon. How was work?”

“Good. You know, a little boring. How was your day?”

“Fine.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, we went to the grocery store. And then to Target because we needed paper towels. And then I loaded the dishwasher, and started a load of laundry. Luca pooped. Rowan ate broccoli. I called in a prescription. I scheduled a play date for Thursday. Um, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and I vacuumed the wood blinds.”

“Why? Are we having some sort of royal company over?”

“No. Because they were dirty.”

“Oh, well. It sounds like you had a nice day!”

Hmmm . . .

Alright. I’m going to stop complaining and focus on the positive. No one is ill, I have a career that I love (however tiny), my husband is the king of all husbands, we have a nice home, good friends, the kids are pretty awesome (point proven by the fact that I can actually take them to the bead shop with me, easily), we aren’t destitute . . . life is good, I suppose.

It’s just really fucking boring.

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Let’s Hear it For the Boys.

Things I have to say to my children, often:

Stop touching me.

Stop kissing me.

Don’t pee on your brother.

Only one boy can massage me at a time.

Get your hands out of your pants.

I can’t hold you both on my lap at the same time without pulling a muscle.

I’m not strong enough to carry you both at once.

I can’t cuddle you both to sleep.

Get the spoon out of your nose.

That isn’t food.

It’s a tampon, not a toy.

Please, stop asking me the same question over and over again.

Stop fake crying.

It’s a vagina.

Wow. Those last two strung together are a little disturbing, and hopefully not at all prophetic. What I like about this list is that, mostly, I have to basically keep the children from loving me too much. I’m a horrible person! They just love me so freaking much! And it drives me insane! It’s like a non-stop festival of love! It’s over-love! They want to (and let’s face it: they basically try to) crawl right back inside my womb. And as much as I like it, and appreciate it, at the same time it’s extremely, well, annoying.

(You know why mothers don’t want to have sex with their husbands? Because they don’t want to be touched. It isn’t because sex isn’t enjoyable, and it isn’t because they don’t love their spouses. And really? It isn’t because we’re tired. It’s simply because we don’t want anybody all up in our business!)

Somehow we raised our children to depend so heavily on us that if I leave the room, briskly and with the intention of coming back in mere seconds, my kids follow me so quickly that I usually trip over them as I am heading back to where I came from. Rowan actually lays at my feet while I am getting ready in the morning, and I have had to restrict them from entering the bathroom while I am—daintily and attractively—going to the bathroom. So they sit at the door, peering in at me. Which is pretty fucking creepy. When I am blogging, they both try to lay behind me on the chair and in fact, at this moment, Rowan is pretending to be a fox and laying on my lap while Luca is hanging on one of my arms. And they are both licking me. Beading is interesting. Usually, Luca just crawls around by my feet, retrieving lost beads.

And recently? I got out of the shower and had yet to put a towel around me and Rowan, who was of course right there, asked, while pointing at my boobs, “what are those things for?” This cracked me up, because he could clearly see that they have a job.

There was a time (a long time, actually) when Rowan literally couldn’t sleep without someone touching him. I would get him fast asleep, and try to get out of bed to pee (daintily and attractively), and he would instantly wake up. And he wouldn’t just wake up, he would wake up screaming for me. As if I had left him on the side of the road after killing his puppy. It was so stressful! I felt like I was being held hostage! By a tiny little love terrorist! And it sucks, because who the hell could I say, “it’s so hard for me to have such loving children!” to without being punched in the face? Even I would punch me in the face!

It isn’t the kids being loving that bothers me, it’s the total dependency. Which, intellectually, I get, but physiologically, it makes me all itchy. And then the feelings of guilt for being annoyed at tiny, adorable, loving children. Children that I made, and delivered (or, actually, had sliced out of me in an OR). I’m a horrible, ungrateful person. Occasionally, and more frequently now that they are older, they will play together or by themselves, and I can sit quietly, staring blankly at the wall. But it is fleeting. Although, here is where it all pays off:

The other day, I had to take Luca to get a vaccination. I told him as we were driving over to the doctor, because telling my kids the truth is usually helpful to them. He had his checkup, his vision and hearing checked, and then the doctor said she would send in the nurse with the shot. Rowan turned to Luca and said, while patting the seat next to him:

“Luca, sit right here and hold my hand so I can comfort you while you get your shot.”

And Luca climbed up on the seat and let Rowan take his hand, and said, “Shot? What’s a shot?”  (Because  no one actually listens to me, ever.)

Rowan said, “Let me tell you about it. First the nurse will come in, and she will have a sharp point of medicine. She will either stick it in your leg or your arm, and it will hurt. You might cry, but it will be over very quickly, and you will be very brave. And then she will put a band-aid on it, and it won’t hurt anymore. Okay? I can hold your hand if you want me to.”

The whole time this was happening, I was trying desperately to keep cool, because inside I was DYING. I was so loving my kids! I wanted the camera to capture it, and I wanted the nurse to walk in and hear Rowan and tell me how sweet my kids are! But I also wanted to do what I so rarely do, and just be there, listening and observing, not interrupting the moment but experiencing it. So I did, and I realized that, having loving kids? It’s pretty damn cool.

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