Teaching my kids that having a bad day isn’t the same as having a bad life:
My main career right now is being a mom. My other career is being a writer.
This week I told my husband that if I had a career that didn’t allow me to work from home, I seriously would have considered going “back to work” after the week I had at home with my two kids.
I’m allowed to have a bad week. I’m allowed to honor and recognize that this is, by far, the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’m allowed to occasionally complain about my “job” just like anyone else is. The only thing that made this week bearable, though, was the secreted knowledge that I want this summer to go as slowly as possible, because of how greatly my youngest child and I will miss my oldest when she goes off to full-day school for the first time ever starting this fall.
Regardless, pretending that I have to act like my life is perfect and that each day I should feel lucky and blessed to be home is as ridiculous as being a Stepford Wife. I have feelings. I have flaws. I have rough days. I have great ones. Most of my days are fantastic, even if they are challenging, too. Most days I do feel lucky and blessed to be home with my kids. Every day I logically know I’m lucky and blessed to be here with them. But it’s okay to not only acknowledge these hard days, it’s also okay to outwardly admit them sometimes.
I texted my best friend the other day how hard this week had been. She texted me back that she loved me, and a few other mom truths from her own personal warehouse of experience, and this helped me immensely to make it through the day. I texted my husband I was having a really difficult day with our children, and he did his best to get home early. In other words, sharing my feelings doesn’t have to mean being dramatic or showy about my ups and downs, but asking for help is a skill I’ve had to develop and hone, and it’s one I want to pass on to my kids. More, if my husband is “allowed” to have bad and good days at his job in a hospital, then why should I be any different, simply because I parent two children at home?
It’s a retrograde view of women to act like we should smile and just grin and bear our bad days as stay-at-home moms simply because we are fortunate to be able to be stay-at-home moms. This surely doesn’t dismiss the difficulties of working outside the home moms, like my own mom was. This doesn’t ignore the reality that being at home with my kids is the hardest, yes, but the most wonderful and rewarding experience I’ve ever encountered in my life. My “job” goes above and beyond career. My “career” is who I am at this stage in my life—I’m “mom” above and beyond so many other things. But isn’t this true of all moms, even if they wear other name tags during other hours of the day?
Does my being home with kids mean I’m not also a “writer”, a “wife” and a plethora of other things I am outside of being a woman, much less being a mom? Does it nullify my humanness?
Life isn’t this simply constructed. Life isn’t just knowing we’re lucky, and so we never have challenges. Life, for everyone regardless of whether or not we’re parents at all, or of whatever other roles we assume for ourselves, has ups and it has downs. I’m allowed to feel these nadirs of my life. In being in touch with myself this way—in being truthful that some days plainly suck even if I am “lucky”—I’m able, equally, to move past these same difficulties and back into an understanding that maybe yesterday was a challenge, but this doesn’t mean tomorrow will be, and this doesn’t mean my life will always be.
Each phase of our lives comes with rewards and challenges. Meeting these challenges, while not necessarily expecting rewards, is often what makes life feel rich and fulfilling—it’s how we can say we have a good life, even if we still have bad days.
While I don’t want to go out there and bitch and complain without realizing how fortunate I am to be home with these babies of mine, I don’t want to go out there and plaster on a chemical smile simply to please others either.
After all, what would I be teaching my kids?