Thoughts For Mother’s Day

Please bear with me as I clear my head.  These thoughts have been weighing on my heart for a while now.

Things at The Monkey House have been crazy the last six weeks.  Lots of sickness, teething, and overtime hours at work for the Daddy Monkey.  It’s enough to give any mama the feeling of being stretched too thin.

I had a wonderful Mother’s Day, filled with love from my sweet family: a break from cooking and chores, some quiet time alone in the house, and a trip by myself to the fabric store.  What more could a mama ask for?   It was an improvement over my birthday a few days before, which was spent in a sleep deprived blur.

I am so grateful to be able to be home with my babies every day.  And all the difficult moments-the screaming children, the bodily fluids everywhere, the battles over the smallest things-all of that is worthwhile when I realize that I am so fortunate to be able to take them to the beach on a Thursday, or let them stay up late on a Tuesday because we don’t have anywhere to be the next day.  I know that someday I will look back fondly on these years and realize that they passed all too quickly.

I am so grateful that we are not over-scheduled and that our days are sometimes filled with nothing, nothing, nothing.  But sometimes…those nothing filled days are the hardest.  The days when I have no help on the horizon, and I am left to my own devices for keeping The Monkeys entertained.  Keeping The Boy at home (and not in school) these five years has been a challenge say the least.  Some days all I want is a moment to myself.  To be able to go to the bathroom with the door closed.  Or to have a not-so-messy-house (forget having a clean house).  I really believe that these early years should be filled with play and fun.  I will know that my son has had five glorious years of play when he heads off to Kindergarten in the fall, and that is amazing.  But some days I feel like there are no children around for play anymore, because they are all at preschool.  I’m sad for him because of that.

I thank The Daddy Monkey for making it all possible by working.  A lot.  I think he works as hard as I do.  And his hours are almost as long as mine.

My only wish through this crazy five-year ride I’ve been on is that I simply had the time to enjoy it more.  To have a little breathing room.  On the outside, this stay-at-home-mom gig looks so great.  But the reality is that it is Really.  Hard.  Work.  Harder then I ever thought it would be.  The sleep deprivation, the drudgery of endless meal preparation and laundry, the reading of insipid books until I think my ears will bleed–all of this came as a surprise to me.  But I accept it, and most days I can handle it–even enjoy it.  But being in it twenty four hours a day makes it impossible to step out of it and see how wonderful it is.  I always enjoy the children more when I’ve had a little break.

It’s really sad because mothering (in the anthropological sense of the word) has not been a solo occupation until recently.  It really does take a village to raise a child.

Every mother in America (and abroad) faces the choice when she has children.  Stay at home or go to work and pay for childcare?  Few women are lucky to find a balance between the two.

One day recently when I had locked the door to the bathroom while I used it, I sat glancing at The Daddy Monkey’s National Geographic and found an image depicting The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 25 reads in part, “Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”  Yet in my country, there is little to no support for mothering.  We have no nationalized child care, little maternity leave, and a general “it’s-your-problem” attitude when it comes to child rearing.  It’s enough to make me want to move to Sweden.

And I really can’t find the answer.

So what’s a mama to do?

Go to the beach.

And knit.

It doesn’t solve my problems.  It doesn’t make me richer or thinner, but it does lower my blood pressure.  It makes me slow down and enjoy the kids, because there’s no laundry staring me in the face, and no bathroom calling to be scrubbed.  Just fresh air, cool water, and happy babies.

Even if just for a few short hours, I can have that breathing room.

8 Responses to “Thoughts For Mother’s Day”

  1. Maggie writes:

    Great Post. I think that sums it up for soooo many Moms that are waiting for their turn to breath. Glad you had a nice Mother’s Day…you SO deserve it.

  2. Becky writes:

    I couldn’t have said it better. And having done it both ways, been the working mom and now the stay-at-home mom, I too feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to be home everyday with my children and definitely agree it is the much harder job. Happy Mother’s Day.

  3. Tracy writes:

    Nicely said…You are speaking for so many of us as we try to find the balance between mother and woman, trying to celebrate with gratitude while exhausted, dirty and disorganized and still keepin’ it real–It is HARD!!

  4. kangaroo writes:

    I loved watching you knit last week as the Girl Monkey was sleeping on the beach blanket. Savoring those moments creates that space between.

    You are so right; I often think the expectation of mothers in our country today contributes heavily to post-partum depression. You are doing a great job, and when your children can watch the example of their mama happily savoring, it leaves quite an imprint. I’m really glad you wrote this.

  5. TheSwedeLife writes:

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    Yep, we are living the socialist nightmare here in Sweden-

    I just got a ‘raise’ in motherhood since I had a second baby- as your article notes we get child benefit money of 1050kr each, or about $275 total a month for the kids. So basically Sweden just bought me car- ours broke and now we have a car payment covered thanks to child benefit. I also get 80 kronors, or about $10 a day for being a stay at home mom, and so that other $280 a month or so comes in mighty handy. Plus 25 hours weekly of free waldorf school with organic vegetarian lunches. Plus free medical care and college, so savings goals are adjusted if we plan on the kids going to school here. and everyone expects parents to sometimes come in late or leave early to take care of the kids- the work of raising kids and the way it changes your life is respected here, and workers are not penalized or looked down upon for having to manage family responsabilites. The only down side- no kids in the neighborhood in the day. But you have the same issue-everyone paying to go to preschool. This help does make a huge difference. All this plus clean drinking water and great fabric. You should totally come. There are good jobs here that your man would fit with!

    Please won’t you be my neighbor?

  6. admin writes:

    Don’t tempt me. Seriously. I am waaaay in the funk of the stay-at-home-mom right now.

    Don’t you know how much I want to sell this house and give my man a much deserved break?

    It all sounds fabulous. I did see that Daily Show bit and it was HILARIOUS. If only we spoke Swedish.

    And the FABRIC! What I wouldn’t give to live in the land of Ikea, where everything is well designed.

  7. breath writes:

    so, i don’t know alot about this woman but i was touched by her interview with charlie rose (last night?) and think that the message she has to share is apropos to all us women/mother/selves. it’s a movement, i know it is time…without women what is the world?

  8. breath writes:

    and i am a dufus:

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