What did you do today? Sometimes my husband asks me this question when he gets home from work, well after dark. He doesn't ask it with contempt, as if, to imply that my day is leisurely, but rather, to make conversation. I, however, sometimes take offense to the question, since I feel like I've been playing hooky from work for five years. Every morning when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I can't believe I can slide down like a turtle under my warm shell of winter blankets.
"Well, I didn't sit down really, that's for sure." I sometimes say, my tone defensive.
"I wasn't implying that you did." He retorts, shortly. The conversation goes downhill from there. Really, I know I'm responsible for that sort of tension, since my feelings about life as a stay-at-home mom are conflicted. My brain wants to be at work, but my heart won't let that happen. Often, I feel guilty for the confusion because I'm sure that this opportunity to watch my children grow, and mold them more carefully, is a true blessing. I'd be lying, however, to say that is isn't actually hard work.
Maybe I don't get up at 5 a.m., but there isn't a moment after I do rise that I'm not tending to the needs of children. After I had my third child I had to "remember" to eat and even to use the restroom. (Only a mother understands this.) I'd sneak into the bathroom for just a minute before the search party was sent out, calling after me in discontented chorus.
"It's not like I'm an air traffic controller or something like that." I remark to my doctor at a routine check-up.
We're talking about stress, and how it affects one's body.
"I know a few people, myself included, who would rather be responsible for the safety of airliners than toddlers and preschoolers. Motherhood is under-rated," he quips, as he catches two wooden trains that baby Bigfoot spontaneously tosses at him. I appreciate his acknowledgement of the pressures of motherhood, but I still feel guilty for struggling with full-time parenting. I always imagined I'd be in my glory every second of it.
Then there are moments like the one I had this afternoon, when I am as contented as Mr. Norman Whiskers. I was reading Anna Karenina on my favorite chair, when my three year old daughter, the princess, climbed on my lap with a puffy down blanket. We cuddled for an hour like that, and she lay perfectly still until I could hear her soft little snore on my arm. I could stay like that forever. These little moments reinforce my conviction that being home with my kids is worth the sacrifice, and is, in some ways, a secret luxury.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Day by Day
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.