A Confession

I am a terrible stay at home mother.

I just want to admit it publicly, because too many people think I have it all together and apparently it looks like I know what I’m doing. Sure, I take my wee boy to play groups, feed him nutritious vegetarian meals, encourage him to express himself at the frustrating age of one. We go for daily walks, read for the prescribed 25 minutes each day, identify colors, practice sign language, sing songs. But I get bored spending 12 hours with a toddler every day.  I’ve minded him in his room while playing words with friends on my iphone hidden in my lap.  I do not always test the temperature of his bath water before dipping his toes in.  I’ve found dog hair in his mouth, in his snot, in his diaper.  His favorite hang out is the dog’s crate, and I’ve caught him putting his face in the water bowl.  I’ll turn his stroller forward facing so I can have time to myself on walks.  I use babysitters for no reason other than to catch a yoga class, or go downtown to get drunk with my friends.  I’ve eaten the last piece of burrata I know he’d love.  My bathroom needs come first when we walk inside after a long day.  He cried it out.  He has not tasted bacon. I secretly can’t wait until he wants to watch Sesame Street and doesn’t need my undivided attention.

Of course he is my joy, my beautiful son, and it is so rewarding spending my days with him, blah, blah, blah, but really, honestly……rare is the day I put him to bed and feel deeply fulfilled.  I’m often overwhelmed and exhausted, even today, when I had 15 hours off in between shifts.  It is this time, pecking away at my laptop, or the 30 minutes before this when I was on my yoga mat, that give me servings of self-hood.  I genuinely enjoy being a mother, but most days are frenetic and full of haphazard attempts to entertain my capricious offspring.  I was a great new mother, monitoring and observing every change to his tiny body.  But he’s now five times his weight from his birth day, and we’re necessarily becoming more independent and less reliant on each other.  He’ll always be a part of me, but not in the same sense he was when developing from a fetus to an infant, or an infant nourished by my breast milk.  Most changes are gradual, but they’re visible to us mothers all at once since we see our children every day.  I didn’t notice that his top 4 teeth were rupturing his gums until they were visible baby fangs.  I used to rue being a “working mother” during his infancy because I was so afraid I’d miss a first.  But the truth is, the first time something happens doesn’t have to be our official recognition of the event.  The first time daddy saw him walk is a precious memory to my husband even though he’d been doing it all day.  I feel like personal development is as important as time with my son now because we’ll get bored otherwise.  He needs to see other faces than mine all day, lest I have a 29 year old living at home with me in as many years!

So when I write, or practice yoga, I regain my mother courage, to step away from my son and let him grow and learn about the world without me hovering above. Writing and yoga are chances for me to step back and look around, or look at myself inside.  Everyone has their own definition of what makes them happy and there are many opinions on what constitutes a nurturing childhood.  I think I am doing my very best to give my son what he needs. Sure he entertained himself on my ipad for 15 minutes after his bath tonight, but earlier today he looked at squid and jelly fish, touched a sea urchin, watched an underwater pumpkin carving contest.  I’m not trying to justify my parenting deficiencies, just making sense of who I am and what I am capable of as a mother.  I’m happy to bake some peanut butter banana muffins for our weekly play group (with coconut oil and South Carolina peanuts, of course), but I am not so sure I will be a rapt observer each soccer practice, and karate kick that I once assumed I had to be.  There are all sorts of trendy labels people give their parenting style.  Maybe my ever growing album of “baby-in-a” pictures (baby-in-a fountain, baby-in-a kitchen aid, baby-in-a purse, baby-in-a miniature Ferrari) could give rise to some witty name.  Container parenting.  Shifting boundary parenting.  Senseless parenting?

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2 Comments on “A Confession”

  1. I think good parents (mothers and fathers both) are those that take the time for themselves so that they can be ready to give attention to their children when needed. I don’t believe there are any parents who are truly selflessly enjoying spending all of their time with their children. One of the benefits of my custody arrangement–even though I miss out on half of Little G’s life, which is hard–is that I get a lot of “me” time when he’s away, and when he’s back I can really concentrate on being with him. But even I have WWF ready and a DVD in the player for when he gets up at 6 in the morning. We’re only human.


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