Thoughts For Mother’s Day
Thursday, 14 May 2009
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.
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.