Stay at home moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, nannies, and child caretakers of any kind,
How do you do it?
I have been home, or rather, away from the camp/commune life, for like, five hot minutes (two weeks), and am
slowly rapidly turning into a monster. The frustration creeps in not even one hour into my day and
continues careening along the path toward tyrannical madness until – mercifully
for all of us – my head hits the pillow at night. I feel so wound up inside that, if tugged, I might very well
unspool the full amount of my pent-up crabbiness all over the floor, and
probably wouldn’t have the energy to either explain it away or pick any of it
back up. Not only have I become a
miserable body and mind to inhabit on my own, but I have been particularly miserable
to live with, should you even dare to
try to connect with me or suggest that we, I don’t know, talk about it.
The last two weeks have been a whirling, spinning toilet bowl full of – you guessed it – misery.
In the next turn of mental upheaval, I am faced with the reality that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I do, to stay home with Milo. I know, I know, I know that many parents are not able to be home with their little men and women, and I do, in my saner moments, comprehend that my daily experiences are enviable. But, to be honest with you, it makes me feel a little bit like one of those six year-olds at the dinner table who won’t eat the asparagus-stuffed Gefilte fish you made them for dinner:
Oh, there are starving kids somewhere?
SO SEND IT TO THEM.
I realize that this is a terrible, horrible analogy, but it’s the best I can come up with in my state, so please be gentle.
In each day, there is most often the Good: Milo learning to point to the Dalmatian in his Curious George book when I ask him to show me where the doggy is; running into my arms with the full momentum of a tiny rhinoceros; giggles and giggles and more life-giving giggles at sweet, timely intervals. But there is normally also the Bad: irate cries when I take away the caps covering the screws that secure the toilet to the floor (a favorite of Milo’s, that on a positive, keeps me cleaning the toilets); kicking my legs/arms/everything everywhere during a diaper change while we are out visiting a friend’s house; throwing peas and spaghetti and milk cups on the floor and then somehow – in a miraculous cloud of impossibility - finding a large, heavy, pointed object to throw down on my head while I’m cleaning up the first three (a half-truth, yes, but then why does it always feel so pointy?).
But really, he's the
craziest cutest angry person.
I am absolutely, positively sure that there are moms and dads out there who would almost literally kill to be able to partake of these daily rituals. I know that you work intensely hard, and that you still feel the terrible pressure to be everywhere and everything to everyone, especially your kid(s), and I don't mean to belittle your case, even in the smallest degree. But friends, in my world (because that's what i'm talking about here), there is also the Ugly. There are diaper changes with the aforementioned flailing, kicking and throwing things, but also with fecal matter smearing all over your carpet, while you are suddenly battling the intense urge to pin your toddler to the ground and lock him in the cat crate while you take an extraordinarily long walk to the nearest bar and have a really, really, exceptionally strong drink, even if you've never had a drop of alcohol in your whole life. There are days in which, unless your list is composed of:
clean up after child [a little]
try [and fail] to get child to sleep
change [appallingly rank] diaper
cry on the floor
bribe child to get through the yogurt aisle
feed child [donut holes] so he won’t fall asleep on the car ride home
fail to feed child dinner (because he’s eaten twelve donut holes already)
wrangle child into pajamas
put wild animal to bed, twice
eat a pound of chocolate
step on approximately five thousand small toys
go to bed way too late”,
you won’t be able to check anything off. Laundry? Nope. Dishes. No way. Exercise? Bahahaha.
Wait - did you really think you could do that?
I realize that I am writing this in a state of moderate frenzy, so forgive me when I ask to take it all back in a week and tell you how much I love my life (because I do), but in a world that tells you that your value is bound to how productive you are, and because I have foolishly bought into that mantra, there are days when I want anything but this job. Anything. Commercial dishwashing all day? Yes. Hospital laundry? If I don’t need to talk to anyone, sure. Stuff envelopes in an office??? Ohmygosh, yes. Some days I would give almost anything to feel productive.
But for now, in the midst of these good/bad/ugly days, I plan to simply keep changing my list to look like the above, so that I can actually check some things off, thankyouverymuch, and to do my best – my very not-good-enough best – to keep up with my son, and to smother him with an excess of love and hugs so that he would never guess that his mom is justthisclose to completely losing her marbles.