Friday, April 30, 2010

The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love

I'm not talking about the Peace Corps, though I just stole their slogan for the title of this post. I'm talking about parenthood in general, motherhood specifically.

Parenthood is an incredible responsibility. I held a responsible position prior to having my son, but it was nothing compared to parenthood. Nearly every single decision you make, from the food you prepare to the toys you purchase, can have a positive or negative impact on your child. If you're selfish and can't handle self-sacrifice, do society a favor and don't become a parent yet. There's no shame in delaying parenthood until you are mature enough to handle the responsibility. Why do you think I waited until I was in my 30s to start a family?

Parenthood comes with much joy and aggravation. The joys are obvious: your baby's eyes lighting up when you walk in the room, your baby's smiles, your little one saying "dada" or "mama," your toddler planting an unsolicited kiss on your cheek, your sweet child saying that they "luf you too." I'd imagine the joys continue to grow as the child does. The aggravations may not be as obvious to a non-parent. Yes, I know that parents shouldn't think parenting is aggravating, but sometimes it really is. My son isn't quite two, so veteran parents are probably thinking that I haven't seen anything yet. What can I say? I start some days with one last nerve and my son has the uncanny ability to continue getting on it. On those days, it's up to me to get glad in the same shoes I just got mad in and turn my frown upside down.

As a stay-at-home-mother (SAHM), I have a completely different parenting experience than my husband. I can express my exhaustion and frustration, but he can't fully understand it unless he's been in the trenches. As someone who has worked for a salary and someone who "does nothing" all day, I can easily say that it is far more difficult to stay home and care for a child.

I've heard some people claim that a woman is happiest if she's raising her children at home. I don't particularly agree with that sentiment because staying home to raise children just isn't for everyone. Financial obligations aside (and plenty of mothers work to keep a roof overhead & food in the cupboard), some women need more adult stimulation than they can get at playdates and Mommy & Me classes, some women are concerned about their future prospects and aren't willing to have a lengthy employment gap on their resume, some women just don't want to have their lives revolve around diaper changes, feedings, diaper changes, feedings, playtime, diaper changes, & naps. Women have the option of choosing whatever works best for them and in this post-feminist world, no one can question her decision. Heh, that actually just reminded me of Steve Martin's line from the movie Parenthood: "Women have choices, men have responsibilities." Sucks to be you, Men! haha

I can't say what's best for someone else's family, but I know what's best for my family. That said, caring for my child all day by myself is strange at times. The rest of the world tends to fade away when I'm focused on my little one. Things that had been important are no longer even on my radar - I'm sometimes surprised to notice that I haven't plucked my eyebrows in months. A 25-pound individual can make or break my day and the entire day goes down the toilet if my son wakes up on the wrong side of the crib. Singing The Alphabet Song 102 times each day is mind-numbing. My back, shoulders, & arms ache from playing "1, 2, 3, WHEE!" so often. I periodically have vague feelings of guilt because I'm sure that I'm not doing an awesome-enough job and raising the best kid ever.

Life is short and it is always uncertain. Though sometimes minutes begin to feel like hours and hours feel like days, I adore staying home with my son. My days with my son are precious and this time will never come again. Cleaning, cooking, laundry. . .it can all wait until my little boy is snoozing. I cherish my time with my little boy and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to stay home with him.

Thank you, my love, for working so hard for our family. The house is a mess today because I decided to shirk cleaning and write this post while the tater tot is napping! xoxo

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