“I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other.”- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Over the holiday break I spent way more time than usual with my toddler. Thanks to the holidays, my regular work-from-home day, and a horrible and ill-timed stomach virus I ended up staying home with Mia for 9 days straight. By the time I went back to work after New Years, I was so happy to be back in the office I could have kissed my desk.
I know what that says about me.
I’ve always known I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. I am not nearly energetic, patient, hardworking or resourceful enough. But after 9 days on strictly mom-duty (half of that time I even had grandparent support) I realize that maybe I’m not cut out for mothering, period.
The thing is I have a daughter. So, whether I’m cut out for this or not is irrelevant. But, it’s a relief to be able to admit it.
It’s a relief to be able to admit that interacting with a toddler doesn’t come naturally to me.
That when I get home from work all I can think about is bedtime, when I can watch a TV show in peace.
It’s a relief to be able to admit that when I see my childless friends on Facebook going on tropical vacations, eating out at restaurants, and wearing cute, tight fitting clothes I feel sharp pangs of jealousy.
It’s a relief to be able to admit that I think playtime is incredibly boring, and I try to plan errands and meals strategically to break up the time in between naps.
I know there are other moms out there saying, “it’s ok, me too.” And, it is ok. But, there are women out there who genuinely enjoy playtime. Who would give up anything and everything to give life to a child. To care for them when they’re crying. To bathe them. To read to them. To talk to them for hours in jibberish. To build fairy houses and count acorns. To walk up and down the stairs, over and over. And over. I know that these women exist, because my mom is one of them. She is full of patience and curiosity and creativity and has hours and hours and hours of love and attention to give.
I have minutes, at best. I yell too quickly. I’m tired too often. I say “in a minute,” more than I say “I love you.”
But, the most important thing a mom can give, love, I am overflowing with. I love Mia more than I love anything, or anyone, in the entire world, ever. The love I feel for her is so strong that it literally makes my chest ache sometimes. It’s a deep, heavy feeling like I’m being crushed by the weight of the responsibility and pride that she makes me feel.
It’s true that I’m not cut out for mothering. I am not a natural. But, I am a mother. A good one.
And that’s the thing about mothering. Unlike most jobs, you can be hired without any experience, innate ability or even aptitude for success. You can be the worst possible candidate and still get the job.
And so you persevere. You fake it. Hopefully until you make it. You play “dolly” even though it’s boring. You read Go Dog Go 647 times, even though it sucks. You trade sleep, and sex and perky boobs for shit, spit up and epic tantrums. And also slobbery kisses and I wuv yous and the cutest bedhead you’ve ever seen.
You lean heavily on the moms in your life who are naturals, and you let them help you, guide you, and pick up your slack. You accept that you are imperfect, and that your child will be ok even still. You make a conscious effort to be better at having patience and curiosity and creativity even when its exhausting.
You accept that you can be a good mom, even if it doesn’t come naturally.
Because the truth is, I’m not cut out for this. But I’m doing it. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.