Privilege and Guilt and Tomatoes
I’m writing this while willfully ignoring my children, who are running in circles throwing raisins at each other and vying for the title of “Loudest Noise Ever Made By Someone Who Weighs Less Than 35 Pounds”. I am torn between feeling extremely guilty for not being a more active parent at this moment and knowing my sanity cannot take another minute of being used as a human jungle gym.
Evan and Caroline are going through a phase in their relationship – God, I HOPE it’s only a phase – where they are constantly trying to kill each other. Evan sits on Caroline’s head, Caroline shoves Evan off the couch, they both attempt to stand up on the ride-on fire truck. And when I shout at them to KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY they hug and make up…although the hug turns into a squeeze and then into a pushing match and then they’re rolling on the floor squealing again. I don’t think any of it is meant with malice, but damn is it exhausting. I need to record myself saying “Use your words” and “Hands are for hugs and high fives” and “Be gentle” and “Make wise choices!” so I can just play it on an endless loop.
It’s been one of those weeks where being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t really feel like a privilege anymore. It feels like an endless, hopeless, pointless chore that is destined to drive me over the edge long before these kids become fully self-sufficient. We had an incredibly fun playdate on Monday with one of my very favorite mom friends and we started talking about preschools. We got a little giddy thinking about how next year we could both be child-free a few hours a week if we sent our youngest to under-2 programs, but then she said “I kind of feel bad though. I mean, this is why I stayed home – to be home with them.” And that is SO TRUE – although slightly less true for me (who quit working in a real estate office) than her (who had a really fancy job working to cure cancer). But I am home because I want to spend these years with the kids. Evan is more than half way to kindergarten. Kindergarten is full time school! He will take a bus! I will have hours and hours five days a week without him! And Caroline is only 20 months behind him. I’ll have 13 years of free time during the day to go to Target or unload the dishwasher or weed the garden or eat bonbons and read blogs.
But it’s hard to see beyond the next day of full time momming when my kids are hungry and cranky and sunburned and screaming and my husband calls to say he won’t be home before 9 pm. And it’s hard to stay positive when it rains for four days straight and I go to bed and wake up with a headache. And it’s hard to remember how lucky I am when Caroline smashes me in the face so hard with her head I see stars. And it’s really really hard not to beat myself up when I use my shouty voice practically every time I open my mouth even though I KNOW I’m using my shouty voice and I hate my shouty voice. I bet good moms who really appreciate how privileged they are to be home with their kids don’t even HAVE a shouty voice. I feel even though I recognized I was struggling and did what I was supposed to do and got help and I take my pill like a good 1950’s housewife I still fail, daily, to be the mother my kids deserve.
I know I am not the only mom who feels like this. Probably. I just have to remember that one bad afternoon (or day or week) doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be better. Or hell, today can be better. After nap time we braved the crazy New England weather – rain! sunshine! wind! heat! cold! all at once! – and worked in the garden. Evan thought planting seeds was the most amazing thing ever and he can’t wait until we have a bean stalk that goes all the way up to the sky. Caroline carried her little pink watering can around like a baby. We talked about how our tomatoes need sun and water and food so they can grow and I forced the metaphor down my own throat so hard I practically choked. But I needed that moment in the dirt to remind me WHY I am so lucky to be here, even if Caroline did just throw a plastic cell phone at her brother’s head while he tried to ride the cat.