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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11 Comments

Filed under Children., Confessions.

11 responses to “I Quit! Oh, Wait. I Can’t.

  1. Lori

    Sarah you are so dead on with this. Being a parent is amazing but marriage and kids is life consuming. I often dream of being something when I grow up and then remember there are only so many hours in the day. At this point I would kill for 48 consecutive hours at home by myself.

  2. Laura Brown

    Sarah, I love your honesty! Thank you. I struggled when I returned to work, but now I love the balance of teaching. This is my first summer teaching less and I love it, but my mind still is doing lesson planning for September. Whatever you do, you will be great, because you are such a strong and intelligent person.

  3. Alisha

    Dearest, dearest Sarah…thank you, thank you, thank you! For talking about “it” so candidly. For making “it” humourus. For sharing your amazing gift of written expression. I am so grateful. This blog post was such a gift to me tonight. Seeming to come straight from my heart and mind, your post has me feeling less isolated and and shitty about myself as a woman, mother, wife. I’m lacking words to accurately express my gratitude, just know you brightened this mama’s world with your prose! Thank you…

    • What an amazingly nice thing to wake up too, Alisha! Thank you for your kind words. We must be psychically connected…it really sounds like we were living parallel lives this week.

  4. Marcie

    Same! Just add two years to the journey and make the boys redheaded girls and, same!

    I’m with Alisha…it’s helpful to hear from a fellow traveler. It’s Groundhog Day. Starting back to work part-time saved me on several levels but it’s still Groundhog Day with more to do. I went to two (!) movies last night because I needed time away – a bigger escape than one movie could provide – and air-conditioning (we have swamp cooling…emphasis on SWAMP). Anyway, I hear you. And I appreciate you.

  5. Christie

    I second what Alisha said. Thank you for putting this motherhood thing into the perfect words. I love being mom to my 2 boys and yet I feel so trapped. I have a super helpful husband and I don’t want to go back to work yet but I often feel like like everyone matters more than me. You really aren’t alone in these feelings, the only thing that kept me sane this long was getting cancer last year. THAT made me realize that I truly want to be here, being mom to my sons and that as long as I”m alive, I”ll have the time to find that purpose I seek. – some day.

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