So I'm not in the practice of reposting comments to my blog entries (though if I were, I would repost and give a huge thank you to "Anonymom," who sent me such a lovely Mother's Day greeting that the warm fuzzies are still rattling around in my brain, I don't know you but I love you), but today I have to make one exception.
Yesterday I posted about how this SAHM thing is making me feel like I'm cracking up. That the sound of crying and whining and general toddlerhood is giving me a permanent headache. That I need to figure out a new outlook on life, and quick.
I received the following comment, from Anonymous, in reply:
"based on your last few posts, it does sound to me like you are reconsidering your choice to be a SAHM. worth thinking about more... there are lots of interesting things you might do (apart from law) that would still allow you to be a great mom."
And for the rest of the day, I was absolutely gutted.
Now, lest Anonymous feel put on the spot and never comment again, let me say that I WORSHIP the people who leave comments on my blog... your wisdom *inspires* me (again, I'm talking to you, Anonymous who took her kid's pacifiers away and "feels like an asshole every day since")... and your heartfelt encouragement *moves* me (Anonymom, Al, hk, ASL, etc., etc., etc.). I hope that my responding to your comment, Anonymous, in no way discourages you from expressing your opinions here in the future. Because without you guys, I am just talking to a keyboard.
But yes, I heard that comment replaying in my head for hours. "Based on your last few posts... does sound to me... reconsidering your choice to be a SAHM..." Now you ask-- why, exactly, did this comment throw me for such a loop? Well, I think it's because:
(1) I was horrified by the notion that my last few posts have come across as so blatantly negative. I mean, yes, I wrote about how I sometimes feel like an idiot... and that I'm wasting my education... and that I have no life outside of the kids and that the kids are making me mental. (Wow, other than "negative" there's really no other way to spin those sentiments, is there.) But to me... those posts were nothing more than benign venting against what I thought was the obvious backdrop of I LOVE BEING A STAY AT HOME MOM. (Again, upon reflection I can see how that message was lost to my readers.) I love being a SAHM *not* because of what *I* get out of it (headaches, aggravation, self-doubt, you know the rest), but because of what I *hope* my children are getting out of it. I love it because I love them, DESPERATELY, and because-- just as with breastfeeding-- whether it ultimately turns out to be "the best" thing for my children, it certainly can't hurt them. I think.
(2) The comment made me feel like a huge SAHM failure. As in-- what if "Anonymous" is a perfectly happy SAHM? Someone who doesn't get frazzled by the sound of 3 small children trying to out-shout each other, someone who takes legitimate pride in the cleanliness of her house, someone who feels content and fulfilled by the SAHM experience and never second-guesses the choices she's made? For her-- this mythical SAHM heroine I've imagined-- to tell me, "Hmmm, sounds like this gig isn't for you anymore"... well, I felt incredible shame. Like, why can she do the SAHM thing with such ease, while I am over here doing it with immense struggle?
(3) Even if Anonymous is right... and it *is* time for me to abandon ship (see how I look at it as a matter of abandoning my post? my CHILDREN?) and go back to work... I have no idea how that would work, logistically. In fact, every day as I pull up to the school for 2:30 pickup and observe a flood of parents coming through the doors to collect their children, I think to myself, "Don't any of these people have jobs? And who would collect their children if they did?"
The general structure of my weekday, currently, looks like this:
8:30 - drive the two small children to school.
9 - noon - ERRANDS, GROCERY STORE, etc.
12:15 - pick up youngest child from school.
1:30 - pick up middle child from school.
2:30 - pick up eldest child from school.
3 - 5 - drive various children to various after school activities (i.e., ballet, swimming, theater, gymnastics).
So my question is, if both my husband and I were working, WHO WOULD DO ALL THIS MOM TAXI STUFF? Seriously. I'm asking. How do working moms do it? Is the idea to hire a nanny who could do all this driving for me? (And on that note, do you know how nervous I get at the prospect of letting someone else drive my children in a car? CAR ACCIDENTS, people! I worry about them!)
(4) I hardly have a handle on my life as it is... and this is WITHOUT a job. The list of Things I Should Be Doing Right Now Instead of Blogging includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- sew up the hole in eldest daughter's school uniform (got caught on a nail or something)
- wrap gift for child's birthday party we are attending this afternoon
- register new cat's microchip
- call grandmother
- send MANY, MANY overdue wedding and baby presents
- schedule children's dentist appointments
- fill prescription to remedy my month-long cough
- wash hair
Notice how the personal hygiene doesn't even *occur* to me until item #8? Do I sound to you like a person who is ready to reenter the workforce??
You see, then, how Anonymous's comment got me a little worked up. Not because she said anything wrong or offensive in *any* imaginable way... but because she called me out on my own bullsh*t.
Therefore, thanks to Anonymous's clear insight, I've decided it's time to put up or shut up. Either I need to make peace with my SAHM status or I need to give it up. Either I need to recapture the joy of this job or I need to look for joy in another job. Because life is short... and because a miserable mom can't be better for the kids than a cheerful nanny. (*Not* that I'm miserable!)
You know, until yesterday I think I never appreciated how truly fraught with emotion the decision to go back to work must be.
Moms who have already done it: I salute you.