Today I'm having the usual problem: There's so much to do I have no idea what to do first. I know! I'll organize the stray dog hairs by short, medium and long! That's good use of naptime! Nah, how about I just tootle around the internet for an hour or so?
(Not to be confused with yesterday's problem where I stared at the license plate of the car in front of me that read "3fnkids" for 5 minutes, marvelling over the audacity of "3 EFF-N kids" on a license plate before the light bulb went on that Perhaps they mean "3 FUN kids"?)
I think I need to relearn how to be a stay-at-home mom. Or, learn in the first place, since I never really found a groove the first time around.
When I was working part-time, before E was born, I felt like I had a good balance. Z had time in "school" with her peers, but she also had days at home with me. I had time "outside", in the "real world", and I enjoyed feeling untethered (though I was always checking my phone and my watch) and reasonably capable (unlike in motherhood!). The decision to work came not out of financial necessity but out of personal preference. I was itching to get out of the house, alone. I felt I needed a substantial weekly break from mothering. I was ready to use my brain in different ways, talk to adults about things other than our kids, feel competent.
It wasn't perfect; teaching private Pilates sessions to clients who were counting on me was particularly challenging when Z or I were sick, which, since she was in daycare, was all the freaking time. Last minute canceling wasn't so cool and there was no working-from-home option.
I assumed when E was born, I would just stay home for the 'first couple of years'. Until she was in preschool at least. I thought it might be different this time. Surely I could figure out how to be really happy at home full time.
Newsflash: it's actually harder to be at home with two kids (in a new town, with no friends and a freeking COLD ASS climate) than it was with one kid (in a town where I had a few friends and could often be outside for parts of the day without freezing my behind off).
I got into a head space when I was working part time where, subconsciously, being out of the house was my "real life" and the rest of my time was somehow less than. I was often looking forward toward that "me time". As much as I loved Z, it sometimes felt like my real life existed when I was without my child.
I'm trying to adjust that way of thinking because it's not currently tenable. There are so few minutes of the day where I am not with my children, not in this house, that I MUST find a way to be my whole self, have my "real life", with them, rather than without them. And also? That's a sad way to think. Even when I go back to work, even when the girls are older, that is not how I want to be. They are a part of my real life, they may not be all of it, there may be other important parts, but they are not an obstacle to be pushed aside.
It doesn't help that many of the things I love, all the things I crave for sanity and peace of mind, are difficult to do with two little ones in tow: read (hahaha), write (HAHAHA), exercise (well, we do have our dance parties on a regular basis and I will start walking with the stroller again as soon as I know CPS won't be called to save E from my obviously negligent frost-bitten care).
The fact is, I don't feel ready to work yet. I don't want to put E in daycare. I don't want to be away from her all day. I just need.... a little space. I want a break from the pressures of being a stay at home mother.
When I went to back to work substantially, Z was about 16 months old. I think I wanted to escape my own internal pressure to be a perfect mother. And the only way I could find to escape that was to leave the house. Working outside the home, I could turn down the volume of (if not totally turn off) the constant voice in my head that I wasn't doing it right, that I didn't know what I was doing. I was scared to be The Mom, to be the one in charge, who's supposed to know what she's doing, all the time.
Here I am again, with all this internal pressure to be perfect. I know it's completely ridiculous, unhealthy, unhelpful. I find myself frustrated and distraught when Z and E aren't happy and content every second, because here I am at home with them, GIVING IT MY EVERYTHING, why are they not PERFECT? IT'S ALL MY FAULT.
The fact that I don't have to struggle to balance work and family means that I shouldn't be struggling, right?
This, this teetering pile of laundry, this cluttered, dog-hair-covered house, these sticky, whiny children IS my current job. This is IT.
My job. My real life. My time.