I’m starting to get the tiniest itch. An itch I swore I’d never get. I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve got this stay-at-home mama thing locked up, and with a few weeks to go, I’m getting scared for it to end. Please, please take a picture of you rolling your eyes and send it to me- I deserve it. I’ve complained for six months about how I struggle with the lack of structure, how I miss adult interaction. I’ve spent years talking about the energy I have to summon to shower without a workplace motivator. And now I’m FINALLY in a groove. I’m definitely not the world’s most perfectly groomed person, but I could answer the door to turn down a solicitor without dying of embarrassment. I can swing a last minute trip to Target.
But we’re not even going to Target that much. I’ve been following through on my plan of super gently home schooling Milo this summer, and we are so busy. We have activities, books, puzzles, and special snacks, all organized around a weekly theme. We’re going on play dates and meeting up with friends. We have a weekly trip to the farmers market and a weekly field trip somewhere special. Elliott has doctor’s appointments and Milo has speech therapy. And I’m managing it. I’m a little baby centered, and I have lots of help (teacher friends on break, family members), but I’m having fun. A lot of fun.
Now I’m gearing up to slide back out of this skin I finally got comfy in, and switch roles. I’m required to be independent working mother who IS going to do it all: finish grad school, teach first grade, support my school on extra committees, spend quality time with my family, eat fresh and local food from farms, get regular massages/pedicures/haircuts, have girl’s nights, date my husband, and blog about every step of it with a smile on my face.
I never realized how important it is to absolutely adore the work you’re doing if it’s taking you away from your kids. With Milo, there was enough of “me” leftover after work, so I never really had to evaluate whether anything was worth it. He was also tiny and you couldn’t really DO anything with him. I came home to a sweet little drooler, and I got my exercise from a brisk walk while he napped, we did swimming lessons on Saturdays, and I replenished diapers for daycare once in a while, and I thought “I have this DOWN!”
Now our family is bigger, and I love it more. I love my life more now than I did then. My love didn’t grow in relation to the small size of our new extra person. It exploded- I love Elliott, but I also love the way Milo laughs when Elliott makes eye contact with him, and I love the way that Ben looks when all the babies are snuggled up in his arms, and I love the way the words “my sons” sound when I say them. That’s a lot more love. That explosion of love is also an explosion of work. It’s not just an extra bath and some extra laundry and an extra car seat. It’s balancing two creatures who need my attention, who need different levels of affection, who eat at different times and sleep at different times and can hurt each other if I’m not careful. It’s Ben being really tired, and me being really tired, and not really being able to give each other a break, and we’ll have even LESS of a chance to help each other once both of us are working full time. Our new life is crowded and messy and I really do love it more than I’ve loved anything earlier. I guess because I love it more, it’s harder to give up this time.
There’s no real question- we can’t afford for me not to work any longer than the break I’ve already been lucky enough to have. I do love teaching, and I love the team I’m going to be working with next year. I have childcare arranged and even partially saved for, in a home across the street with a family who I like and trust and who love my children. I’m lucky and grateful to have those things. This is definitely a first world problem, a thought that’s crossed my mind when one of my kids gets hungry enough to cry (not that I would get distracted enough to let that happen…no…), and I think, “What if I couldn’t make those tears stop right this instant? What if there was no food?” It feels horrifying and spooky and then my emotional battle about which face my kid sees most often becomes a little less crucial.
It’s not a problem this week, or next. I have a solid month and change before I need to switch gears and give up my 24/7 SAHM love fest. Until then, I’ll just keep scraping play dough out from under my fingernails and having company on trips to the bathroom. It’ll be over before I know it.