The article struck a chord with me, having been home with my daughter for the last (almost 5!) months. It made me feel like someone understood that what I do IS important even though some days I do wonder “What the heck did I do all day?” And sometimes, when people ask me all the inane questions that they do, I don’t know what to say. That, and I wanted some Facebook love, where everyone comments and you feel lifted up even for a moment, supported by your virtual community. Some days, it is my only connection to the outside world (at least it feels that way).
Well, my “friends” had their own party with his article. Many of them wrote encouraging words and their own experiences- whether they worked or not. The point here was not to work or not to work. For me, the point was that at this moment, I don’t work. At this moment, I am suffering in the beauty with Ana on the days when her daddy is at work and we are at home alone.
I am so lucky, and so grateful that I am able to stay home with our daughter. We have a very unique living situation that allows us to live off of one income for now, but this situation is temporary. We are caretakers of an older home in a nice neighborhood and so our bills are not very high. John works a job that pays well, but he genuinely does not like it and that is a huge consideration for us. We need daddy to be happy, too! Luckily for all of us that he is pursuing a passion of his in school and in a few years he will be able to get a job in a field he enjoys.
When I initially wrote this article, I wanted to give a glimpse of what I do all day. I wrote several paragraphs, but deleted them because, well…they were boring. They were boring and I was frustrated with the war between parents and parenting styles that thrives on the internet like a disease, feeding off of people who are stressed and probably just need some support. To stay at home all day with a baby, I need support. And I don’t need to justify why I do it.
Depending on your viewpoint, the “routine” of our days might not amount to much. Many days I feel like I am just keeping my head above water, while being tossed around in a stormy sea. Sometimes I am so tired I have the words to Ana’s books running in my mind over and over again… “I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me! God bless milk and God bless me!” Some days keeping us all fed and clothed and alive is a huge accomplishment, and I’ve nothing left for anything else.
I don’t understand the parenting wars. The internet is as hurtful as it is helpful, especially for new parents. I already question myself and have a hard enough time without the droves of people sounding off about who does what the right or the wrong way. When I posted the article, along with the encouragement, the thread became an argument about whether or not it is a “job” to stay home with the kids. As I don’t get paid, it is not a job- but the work is 24/7.
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
I wrote this post in between “the steaming and the making and the smelling and the baking…” I mean, the spitting and the changing and the cooking and the cleaning. While Ana was napping, I kept thinking to myself about that description of my day I had written. I thought about all of the ways it could be interpreted, about how I should change it, about all the places that invited attack. I realized that judgments aside, it is the truth. I also realized, that put more simply, this is what I do all day:
Wake up, love myself, love John, love Ana, and do the best I can.
AND I received some great advice from a woman in her 80’s in the chiropractor’s office the other day. I was describing this “war” on the internet and how it bothered me. She looked at me with a smirk, said she knew a way to combat it. “It’s simple,” she said. “Shut the computer off and trust your instincts.”
Oh, the wisdom in those words. 🙂