Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Struggles in Motherhood
The following is an exchange between a dear friend and myself. We had completely crappy days on the same day, and I think just about any mom can relate to these stories. (For those of you with a purer heart than mine, there is some language. Sorry about that.)
We all do important work and there are many reasons to struggle with the complexities of these issues.
Staying at home with children is hard. Working and then coming home is hard. There are stay at home mom's who are lazy. It is easy as a working mom to look at those women and judge. There are mothers who work outside the home who are lazy. It is easy to look at those women and judge. However, there are those of us who are staying at home or working who are giving every ounce of ourselves to our kids. Those of us who have not a minute to ourselves, who have no time for relaxing, who never go to the bathroom in peace, who crawl into bed every night exhausted from giving so much. Those mothers exist despite working outside the home or not. I was discussing SAHM vs working with a friend one day and stated that I never have been judgemental towards those who stay at home. I try really hard to respect the choice they've made. This friend looked at me and said, "Ya, but they judge you. They will talk about choice but most of them couldn't get a decent job--so they have to exhalt it up as a 'choice' so they don't have to admit that having kids keeps them from looking like an unemployed bum". This type of thought goes both ways. It serves no greater purpose. Yes, if I work I get adult time. I also miss out on my kids. Yes, if you are a SAHM you get to do more with your children than I do. Perhaps that is some of the judgement regarding being lazy as a SAHM: the thought of a working mother who would give anything to have more time with their kids. As a working mother, there is simply never enough time to capture the moments with your kids. At the same time, as a SAHM you aren't getting adult time. As a friend who is a SAHM told me, "I just want to talk with someone who reads the newspaper--who can talk about something other than their kids." There are negatives on both sides. It is difficult at times, however, for me to remember this.
It was a church night. I am so happy that L loves church. Still, adding in things at night becomes exhausting when you have a spouse who works nights. There is no rest for the weary! As we get out of the car, G starts throwing this HUGE fit. The kind that embarrasses you and challenges your belief that you are a decent parent. G throws herself on the ground, in the rain, and by the time I get her back up she is covered in mud. The only word that comes to mind at a time like this is "fan-freaking-tastic". I walk into a church where at least half of the mothers do not work outside the home--if not more. So, most of the time, I end up feeling like an odd duck out anyway. I'm also considerably younger than most of the mothers. As I walk in, another mother, a SAHM, looks at G, and in what came across as a very patronizing tone, states that she has spare clothes--because she always carries something extra with her. I wanted to punch her. Even if it was *perhaps* meant nice and not patronizing. I wanted to add, "great did you bring extra food too? Because after getting up at 6 am to make breakfast, get myself ready, get kids ready, making sure my husband is up, working 8 hours in heels that kill me with people I don't really like, I drove home, picked them up, and I came here to sit and make sure no one molests my freaking kid since my work has shown me that church is a dangerous f*cking place for kids." Did I mention G is still crying? That my patience is wearing thin? That I just want to go home and go to bed? That this won't happen because when we get home we have homework, and I have to pick up the house, and crawl into bed exhausted just to do it all over again the next morning. That on days like this I feel like a horrible person so really, I'm so freaking glad that you have an extra 8 hours a day I don't have to clean your freaking house and pack extra f*cking clothes.
Then I have to remember, this is a mom who really is a nice person. Who might not realize how she is coming across. Who is also tired, who was with her kids all day, who probably really wants some adult companionship, and who might come across patronizing because she is used to talking to kids all day.
I try and remind myself of this when I see a SAHM whose house isn't clean, or who doesn't seem organized, or whose kids seem completely unsupervised. It isn't my job to judge her parenting style. (Maybe not leave my kids with her...but how she raises her kids is her choice--not mine.) I remind myself it is easy to look at me on a night like the one above and see a mom who works who doesn't seem to like her kids. When really, I love my children but I am exhausted from trying to make sure that my children don't miss out on anything because I work outside the home. We see glimpses of lives--not the whole picture. This is why we as women must stop looking for ways to judge--and start finding ways to show grace and love to one another.
I remind myself that we live in a society that tells me that I should feel bad if I don't work (because then I am dependent on my husband) and that I should feel bad if I do work (because I am not there for my kids). So really, all moms are losing and struggling to find a good balance. I have to remind myself that while she may not understand my day--I might not understand her day too.
It is hard sometimes to remember all of this. It is hard to remember when my life is filled with so much. Between trying to be a spouse, having a job where people gossip and cause problems, struggling with confliced feelings about issues that shouldn't be issues, trying to graduate on time, take care of my kids, etc. There are times I don't want to be a good person. Days where all I do is complain and be negative. That isn't who I am and it adds to my frustration. There are days where I want to have a fit because it is all so damn frustrating.
I guess maybe I should have a little more sympathy for G. Maybe, just maybe, deep down I was a little bit jealous. There are moments I want to throw myself down on the ground and scream too...
When you make the decision to stay home with your kids, there is no weekend, yet you look forward to the weekend. You wake up every morning excited to see your babies, but exhausted the moment they start needing you. When you stay at home, you are the life planner for the entire household. You take them to doctor's appointments, you get the oil changes in the vehicles, you do the bulk of the shopping and household chores, and when the time comes that you need to see the doctor because you have run yourself ragged, your toddler goes the entire day without a diaper change, your two month old does as well, and the baby doesn't get fed for 5 hours. You show up to your appointment late with two kids that are cranky and tired and hungry and you are all of the above and everyone in the waiting room thinks you are a charity case. That is the worst of days. On the best of days, you are asked 5 times "Do you need paperwork for WIC?" or "Will you be using food stamps?" or "But what do you DO all day?" in a tone of voice that includes an eyeroll no matter what your answer is. People assume you have time to pack a diaper bag and that you always remember to grab it before you head out the door. At times your spouse truly believes spending 12 hours a day at his workplace with 40 people that ask questions and still can't complete a task is the equivalent of spending 15 hours a day with two kids that need you to feed them, clothe them, kiss their booboos, play blocks their way, make a mess with them then clean up the mess for them, make them sleep when they are tired and continue to do all this while then listening to him complain about how terrible his day was while you clean up. There is also the matter of being responsible for teaching these beautiful beings how to be decent people. Please and Thank You and it is never socially appropriate to pick your nose and eat it, take off your clothes in public when you feel like it, or scream when you don't get your way. You ignore the fact that your son has started to say "sh*t" when he drops something, and REALLY ignore that he tries to mimic you when you say f*ck. You wake up every morning determined to be the best you can be and by ten you have already wanted to scream, need a nap and vow tomorrow will be easier. You miss having coworkers to complain about, adults to talk to, and being able to get into a vehicle and not have to unload two other bodies. You miss feeling smart. You miss having someone say " You look great today" because let’s face it: there is no use doing your hair, putting on makeup, shaving your legs and putting on fabulous clothes for kids that will puke on you and want to show you where your eyes are by poking you in them repeatedly. You pay your student loans a little begrudgingly because you are not using that Masters degree in the way that you had meant to use it at the moment. You hate that guy in college that told you it didn't matter where you went to school because your husband would end up paying your loans because he was right. You envy women that get to leave every day, but then you get to hear your son say "mom" and call his sister by name. You get to see her first smile and they want you when they are scared. Then you thank God and your husband for blessing you because you have the opportunity to do it all over again the next day.
Posted by Unknown at 10:07 AM