So I’m sitting here, staring at a blank page, wondering where to start.
And so here I am, thinking about something I read recently, how mothers, especially stay-at-home mothers, are simultaneously lonely and never have enough time to ourselves.
That one hit home. My days seem to be endlessly stretched out with chores and obligations to everyone but myself. And as a result I stay up too late, watching TV, knitting, twittering. Which only makes the next day that much harder, and makes me want to be alone that much more.
Vicious cycle, that.
There are many days when I feel like I just can’t do it. I can’t spend another minute being the sole person throughout the day taking care of my kids. The pressure to be a perfect mom is tremendous, whether I bring it on myself or society crushes my need to lock myself in the bathroom just for a few minutes of peace, implying there is something wrong with me for needing that time.
And so, daily, I feel like I’m not giving enough of myself. I’m not playing with the kids enough. I’m not energized enough to chase them around. I want them to go play by themselves, to not crawl on me whenever I sit down for five minutes to give myself a break.
But I’ve got to get it together. Because I don’t want them to remember their childhoods as that time when Mama wouldn’t play with us. I do worry, constantly, about what their first memories will be. I want them to be happy. I want them to feel loved. And I want them to have a fantastic time.
But I also don’t want to lose myself.
This is a lonely gig, made even more so by the fact my almost-saint of a husband is going to school for his master’s degree and therefore never stops, is always busy, but still makes time to spend time with us.
No, it’s not nearly as much as I’d like, and sometimes in the evenings I want to have a real live adult conversation but that’s impossible because he’s writing another of his many, many papers, or mowing the grass or fixing some essential part of our house.
So we’re all struggling. We’re all tired. We’re all running on fumes. But there is an end in sight. This summer should spell the end of my husband’s schooling, at least for now. And maybe with that some of the parenting tasks will be lifted off my shoulders, or at the very least I’ll have someone to talk to again.
I also read something recently written by a mother of four, with twins who aren’t yet a year old. She spoke of how she had everything around her she could possibly want, all the people she loved, all the things that gave her joy. But she couldn’t help looking at other people who were free to do what they wanted, go where they wanted, who didn’t have small people constantly relying on them for care, and feeling a tug. A tug of jealousy, a tug of want, a tug of needing to get up and follow them.
And to that I say yes. Exactly.
But we don’t. We stay because we know that this feeling will pass. We stay because we are mothers, and yes, it is the hardest, but also the best and most important job in the world. We stay because we love them, because we couldn’t imagine life without them.
And so we stay.
Even when we don’t want to.
*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on May 23, 2012.
(I was having a bad day when I wrote this. I promise I'm not planning on running away from home any time soon. Unless the kids don't stop whining. Cause then I'm out of here. Preferably to somewhere mountainy.)