I thought that being a stay-at-home-mom would be so easy. (I did!) And I could not understand, for the life of me, what moms who didn't have to work were complaining about.
Now I understand: It's not easy. And they're not really complaining those moms, they're just really, really tired.
Being a stay-at-home-mom is not easy. It's everything. You're the boss and the manager and the accountant and the cleaner and the cook and the lover and the hugger and the storyteller and the grocery shopper and the organizer and the laundry doer and you're those things and more 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To sum it up, you're the mom. Somehow that all escaped me before I was the mom. Isn't that something?
In the beginning, it's so different. Then you ramp up as you go. Life with a newborn is completely all-encompassing and you're wholly engrossed in breastfeeding and sleeping when the baby sleeps and floating around in this blissful yet disorienting tired cloud of newbornness. It's beautiful and hazy and in a way you don't even remember it later. That's the easy part. The baby doesn't move. The baby doesn't really do much of anything except nurse, snuggle and poo. When you hold a newborn against your chest and they sleep there like they're the happiest person on earth, like they're actually in their own personal heaven, it's a really wonderful feeling. You can get lost in that newbornness and I recommend you do. Stay there for a good three or four months. Don't worry about mopping the floor. The baby doesn't move, so food and drink aren't being slung from the highchair onto that floor just yet! I think Coco was four months old when we finally mopped the kitchen floor. Whatever! We swept. ;) None of that matters with a newborn. It really doesn't!
But it matters with a toddler. Yes it does.
Tonight I mopped the floor. I had really let it go. It had been two weeks since the last mopping and it was sticky. My slippers were literally sticking to the floor and there were spots and fuzzy, gooey places. Ick! I had to mop it twice! The water was black half way through the first mopping, so I finished up, let it dry, re-swept and mopped it again with fresh Mr. Clean water. Oh my goodness. And it's not just mopping. Everything at this stage matters. Each day is a marathon of events, anticipating Coco's needs and balancing those with the household tasks and carrying out a skillful dance around each component to get through the day with a minimum of crying, tears, frustration and impatience. Luckily, a certain amount of frustration is good for children. It makes them resilient and prompts them to begin to problem solve. Phew! Because regardless of the planning, responding and executing of the daily routine, there are usually a few hiccups.
And then there are the golden days when you hit it just perfectly. The pictures above are from two days ago, when Coco and I went to the park and then to feed the ducks. She ate everything at lunch time and was full of energy when we went out. She was delighted to be out in the wide open and walk and explore. She loved the swings. She was in awe of the ducks. Then she fell asleep and had a two and a half hour nap. On the way home we did the grocery shopping and dinner was on time and bedtime a breeze. It was a perfect day.
I realized this morning, when I was writing my grocery list at 10 am and planning the evening's dinner, that I'm getting really good at this stay-at-home-mom thing. Far from perfect, but really good. Gone are the days when I started thinking about dinner at 4 pm! I'm doing this stay-at-home-mom thing. And I'm doing it well. :) It's nothing like I thought it would be, but it is rad.
When I was in college, I toyed with going into the Peace Corps. At one of their informational meetings, I got a keychain that said, "The toughest job you'll ever love!" and used it as a zipper pull on a hideous Eagle Creek purse I had. (Can you even call this a purse?! Eeew.) But back to the point, I loved the concept on that keychain. Tough work that pushed you to your limit, that challenged you to be creative and resourceful, that tested your capabilities and made you feel good, made you feel alive, made you feel awesome. Yes!
I never went through with the Peace Corps, but I found that job anyway. Being a stay-at-home-mom is truly the toughest job and I will ever love. I love it so much!