It’s 7am, and Luka and I are already sitting in our favorite diner, waiting for pancakes. He’s still in his spooky skeleton Halloween pajamas. Later, after a nap, we’ll hit the road for drive through coffee, maybe a visit to Papa at the hospital.
Late afternoon- what, the batteries died in that toy that he just showed the slightest re-interest in? An errand to run. To Target we go! Then the mall, for the toddler carousel and I don’t know, Baby Gap? A park, a neighborhood stalk, a walk, the Children’s Museum, a drive, wheels to the road.
I’m a Stay at Home Mom and I can’t stay home.
During the first month of my pregnancy, I read an article in New York Magazine entitled, All Joy and No Fun. It was the cover story, and it was all about how research had determined that having children didn’t make one happier, and in many cases it makes us less happy.
Not the best thing for a nauseated expectant mother to read. Especially considering that just one week earlier, the lady doing my nails had told me that if I was smart, I wouldn’t have children. If she had known how hard it was going to be, she told me, she wouldn’t have had any of her own.
The article was full of terrifying anecdotes from harried, over-tired parents struggling to cling to the desire to live, despite having a ten year old who wouldn’t do his homework. According to the study, the average parent reported enjoying the time spent with their children as roughly equal to that of doing the dishes. I’m not making that up. And I’m also not afraid to admit that it’s true.
I wake up in the morning and I think, How am I going to entertain him today? What will we do? Where can we go? I feel like a junkie, desperate for her fix. I’m restless and antsy. I have to go, go, go. If I don’t, I feel as if I’ll lose my mind.
It should go without saying that I love my son. I’m nutty for my son. But do I really, really enjoy being home with him, day in and day out? Trying, fussy stage to the next trying, fussy stage?
It’s not always my idea of a good time.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe I had too many years of self-serving freedom before I became a mommy? Maybe it’s his age: mobile, energetic, wanting to do everything and unable to do most of those things- my eyes on him, endlessly, following him around and around, every day? Its exhausting. It’s dirty. I want to cry a lot. I want to yell a lot.
I could work. I don’t have to be a Stay at Homer.
I belong here, and so I stay. Luka and I, we belong together. And though I completely understand why some mothers happily skip out the door to work every morning, believe me, I understand, for me, this is where I need to be. Not everything that’s meaningful is easy, or even enjoyable for that matter.
That article wasn’t all doom and gloom. Why would anyone have a child for god sake? I mean, if it’s no better than doing the dishes? It’s because of the “moments of transcendent joy” that our children provide us.
I always think of those words, “transcendent joy”. What a perfect description.
While I certainly had my moments of joy before motherhood, the count has risen immeasurably since Luka arrived. And those precious moments are small and quick. To an outside observer, they would go unnoticed.
The hand touching your face. The look of dawning love in his eyes, his little chin to little chest, looking down towards you, really seeing you now, as you change his diaper. The smile spreading across his face in the middle of the night, when he can’t sleep, and you are so, so tired, but he is so, so happy you’re there with him.
Just hearing it sometimes. Unparalleled joy.
But. It’s boring as hell most of the time.
So, if you see me, I’ll probably be on the road, in between stops, searching for recreation. Chances are, I’ll see you there too…