Tuesday, April 28

Blessed to Be Home...Sometimes I Just Need a Reminder

I waved to my neighbor from our driveway as I loaded Aubrey into her green plastic wagon. The neighbor's belly loomed round and ready in front of her. She was 39 weeks pregnant and ready to be done with the pregnancy, ready to introduce their sweet little girl to her brother, the one who was so handsomely sitting in their own wagon waiting for a ride.

We talked about the weather. I mean obviously, after the winter we just had, one always talks about the weather when they live in Buffalo.

We talked about our birth stories.

We talked about our ob/gyn (we see the same doctor), where to buy girl clothes, and how much fun that whole thing is.

We talked about her maternity leave, which had just started the day before.

She was relieved to not have to manage business phone calls that day, to not have to report somewhere at a designated time, to not have to put on the professional face, or the professional clothes. She was relieved to just have the time to walk her pregnant self down the street, pulling a wagon behind her with her almost two year old son in tow.

She was thrilled to be able to do things I do on many days. Things I can tend to take for granted after being home with my kids for so long.

"You're so lucky to be able to stay home with your girls," she said sweetly and sincerely.

I laughed. Out loud. Not a sarcastic or condescending laugh. More of a chuckle at the timing of her comment. A comment coming just hours after  I had been contemplating how much I missed the professional world, and a more structured sense of "work".

I wasn't sure what to say. A series of mental photographs flashed through my mind...

The one where I try to unload the dishwasher as Aubrey pulls every single piece of silverware out of the kitchen drawer and dumps it on the counter. I just want to finish one task. Just one, I think, as I clean it all up.

The one where I try to fill a sippy cup with juice and discover her with her tongue on the garbage can, her hands inside, pulling things out and distributing them like treasures onto the kitchen floor.

The one where I attempt to throw something in the crockpot, early in the day,  eagerly desiring to feel on top of something, while Aubrey manages to get the top off of the hamster cage and dump the sunflower mix all over the floor. In one, swift, fell swoop.

The one where I try to load groceries into the car and Aubrey throws a fit about being strapped into her car seat. I have to pull out some WWF moves to wrestle her into her seat while she screams and kicks her feet, making me feel like an incredibly inept mother.

The one of myself, crying over a container of blueberries that I spilled on the floor. I'm crying because I don't have the energy to pick up ONE MORE MESS...even if it is my own.

(Yes, it's been said, 'don't cry over spilled milk', but I'd like to venture a thought that it is justified to cry over spilled blueberries at 9:30 p.m. when you're finally getting around to putting them away.)

The one where I am still cleaning up the house at 10:00 p.m. because it looks like the aftermath of a frat party and I beat myself up wondering whether my children really just are this messy or my house management skills really are just that bad?!

Oh, stay at home motherhood...

I love you. I can't keep up with you. You are so very different than what I expected you to be.

I realize as I write these moments down that they, in and of themselves, seem ordinary, mundane and not that big of a deal. The challenge for me, as a stay at home mom, is that the domestics are my reality around the clock. Sometimes I feel like I could handle the blueberries if they hadn't been the 87th item that had spilled and needed to be picked up in just that day alone!

I'll be honest, there have been days when I've  thought (maybe naively) about sitting at a desk, with a task-list by my side, where I can tick things off without someone pulling my computer off of the counter, spilling my smoothie on my lap,  or screaming in my ear while I try to make a doctor's appointment.

I realize my "images" of what it looks like to 'get to go to work' are likely just as accurate as some of the ideas working moms have of what I do at home all day. The truth is that both realities have their own challenges, frustrations, and moments of satisfaction. Unless you are actually living the day-to-day of either one it's easy to dream that the other option looks way better at any given moment.

But this isn't a post about comparing one to another...it's merely a reflection of my thoughts and mostly a reminder to myself to be thankful for where I am at this stage of life.

After being home, mostly full-time, with my kids for the last eight years, I probably would enjoy and appreciate many aspects of showing up at a more structured, out of the house job...for a little while anyways.

And my neighbor, after juggling the working life with daycare drop offs and pick-ups, and all of the other challenges of balancing both, probably would enjoy the flexibility that comes with staying at home...for a little while...maybe a long while...I don't know.

She most definitely would enjoy being able to stay in her yoga pants until noon if she so chooses (;

And it is a treat to take your kids on a walk on any given day... to watch the world through their eyes, and share a juice box in the front yard without the pressure of needing to be somewhere.

Just the other day, as I was walking with Aubrey down the street and listening to her compose sentences about the world she was seeing around her; the birds, the trees, the street, the clouds...everything is new and wondrous to her...I looked back at her and thought, "There is no place I'd rather be."

In that moment that was the absolute truth. Suddenly all of my  discouragement that I was somehow missing out on something bigger and better because I'm not working "professionally" dissipated... for the time being anyway.

She and I moved on to collecting small pebbles at the end of the street. As we dug them out of the grit and dirt with our fingers we would hold our prized findings up for the other to see..."Look, Aubrey, look at the rock mommy found."

"Look momma! Look! Rock!" she would respond, proudly displaying her own.

Somehow those small rocks were all we needed to feel content that afternoon. We gathered them up into a pile and put them in a tall white container that had previously held cereal puffs. We put that container on the counter so that she could show her sisters what she had found and I stared at that container while she napped, grateful for the chance to collect rocks with my little girl earlier in the day.

The truth is that staying at home with your kids can feel tedious sometimes. The house gets trashed, you can feel like you never, ever,  ever leave the kitchen, and trying to do anything while simultaneously entertaining a toddler (or two, or three) is a venture in multi-tasking that takes the most extreme forms of patience (of which I am still attempting to develop).

But despite the fact that being a stay at home mom doesn't always feel like my natural inclination (some days I'd rather be "working" in the more professional sense), it is what I feel called to during this season of my life. While I feel ill equipped for the job on many days, and can even tend to take it for granted, God is teaching me things about myself-- namely who I am in His eyes-- one quiet rock collecting day at a time.

Sometimes I just need a reminder.

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