Being a stay-at-home mom can be really hard.
You hear it all the time, but seriously. It’s hard.
I mean, there are great things about it. For instance, if I don’t feel like wearing make-up or putting on anything nice, I don’t have to. I can spend my down time doing, really, whatever I want. After all, the world won’t fall apart if I spend naptime watching a movie and eating popcorn instead of cleaning.
And, of course, I get to experience every second of my son growing up (even those I might prefer to miss, like teething and tantrums.)
I’m not big on doing things purely for the applause, I’m really not… but there’s something about being married to a former LEO, now security officer, that makes stay-at-home mom life seem particularly hum-drum.
When my husband comes home with an exciting story about chasing someone down and tackling them, it makes me proud. But then he asks about my day and I’m not really sure what to say. It sounds pretty lame in comparison.
A typical rundown looks something like this:
I changed four or five diapers, diffused countless tantrums, comforted A after he fell from trying to climb onto the table, disciplined him for trying to climb up again (then diffused another tantrum.) Then A went to bed, and I either did some work or collapsed onto the couch with a soda and the TV remote. Or, he refused to go to bed, and I gave him Goldfish and we watched Curious George.
In the meantime, I wavered between feeling like a great mom and like I’m for sure setting him up for therapy in the future. Am I too lenient or too strict on the playground? Do I step in too much when he interacts with other kids, or not enough? Is that mom on the other side of the playground judging me when I check my phone and he happens to fall in the time I’m looking down?
Half the time, I worried about the quality of his diet, and the other half I thought, “Some moms cook meth around their kids. So what if he eats his body weight in fruit snacks?”
I also wavered between mind-numbingly bored and completely overwhelmed… which also means I probably experienced a few degrees of guilt and resentment over the day, too.
When I compare the two days, they seem unevenly matched somehow.
And then there are the times that we get together with J’s friends in law enforcement and I really feel awkward. I often feel I have nothing to bring to the conversation unless the topic changes to children. It vaguely reminds me of trying to hang out with my brother and his friends and being the annoying little sister: I don’t have any idea what it’s like to be in their shoes, and it’s obvious.
To be clear, my husband doesn’t do anything wrong in these situations. It’s just hard to feel a little… irrelevant.
I sometimes feel jealous of my friends who work outside the home, because I sense they still retain more of their old selves. Hardly ever do I feel like more than “mommy.”
But with all that being said, I realize that no matter how irrelevant I feel I’ve become, I have to know it’s not the case.
There’s a reason my little boy cries for Mommy in the middle of the night when he’s had a nightmare. There’s a reason he wants me to hold him when he’s teething, why he asks me for his favorite sippy cup and his favorite snack. Why he wants me to sit next to him on the playground or when he’s rolling around his trucks. Why he brings me his favorite book and begs me to read it.
No, I’m not out catching criminals. No, I’ve never saved someone from a burning building or comforted someone who’s just lost a loved one. I won’t win any awards for what I do all day and rarely, if ever, will I get applauded for being A’s mom.
But to A, I am everything. The sun rises and sets with me. I’m his comforter, his best friend, his most trusted confidant. He knows I’ll encourage him when he’s learning something new. He knows that when he’s hurt, he can come to me and be safe.
When I cradle him when he’s had a bad dream and he relaxes into me, I know he trusts me. He knows how much I love him, and he knows he’ll be taken care of… That I’ll never let him down.
I don’t need the applause of the world. At times, I think it would be nice, but it’s not what’s important (and frankly, it’s just never going to happen.)
In the meantime, I want to enjoy being a mom. My little boy won’t always be so little, and won’t always want to come to me with his problems. Some day, he’ll have problems that can’t be fixed with a hug and a kiss (or some chocolate), and when that day comes, I want him to remember a mom that was always there.
I don’t have to be loved by the world. Being loved by my child is more than enough.