September 23, 2012 by Julia
As a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard to feel that I have anything to show for my day. There are few actual accomplishments – just the prevention of disaster, filth, and starvation. If the house and children are in basically the same shape that we began in, it counts as a successful day…I suppose.
But thinking about life in those terms is not exactly inspiring. Especially when you have to get up the next morning and do the same exact things: toast bagel, unload dishwasher, make coffee, change diaper, and on, and on, and on. Sometimes as I wash the highchair tray at night for the millionth time, I think my soul is going to shrivel up into an angry, dehydrated ball. Usually after an hour of time to myself, when the kids are in bed, I feel healed, like I can breathe again. But that is just at the end of my day.
Yes, we all need that alone time, the time to be selfish. And some days, all you can do is survive until you are allowed to crash on the couch with a glass of wine and an episode of The Bachelor or Parenthood on the DVR.
But I don’t want to spend the whole day looking forward to those moments after the kids’ bedtime, because that is only a small part of my life. I want to find a way to be present for the tough everyday activities, the hours of preparing food and cleaning it up, the hard work of building character with the word ‘no,’ the constant watchfulness and lack of personal space and affection and yelling and putting off of my own needs.
Instead of trying to escape the hard parts, I need to dive deeper into the parts that I most dread or fear. If I look at that stuff with openness, I often discover that it is not so terrible. It may not produce joy, but at least there is a release of tension that leaves me open to joy.
Each troublesome moment of my life is an opportunity, a challenge meant for me. And rising to meet that challenge is way better than just muddling through it. It’s a chance to use my natural interest in the way people work, to use my brain and my heart to figure out if my love is somehow lacking – for myself, or the people around me. Or it might mean I just need to use good old problem-solving skills.
Either way, there is more to this stay-at-home mom business than just keeping the house clean and the kids fed – and that business is interesting. I have to use every inner resource I own, at times. That IS inspiring, not to mention fulfilling. My brain is not wasting away here. And when I take the time to look at the beauty in all this work, my heart is full.