I'll say it outright. I've held jobs since I was old enough to legally work, and I actually did paid work under the table before that. I held three jobs in college and still made the deans list. I managed a residential program and was responsible for the safety of forty some odd developmentally disabled people 24 hours a day. The pager stayed with me when I peed, showered, went to movies, and tried to forget it wasn't there. And yes, being a stay at home mom is still the hardest thing I've ever done. It is hard. There are many times when I fantasize about running away from home. There are times when I look at my two year old and start humming loudly and well... I start acting like a 2 year old. I'm constantly covered in spit up from the infant boy. I'm run down, my pants are sagging, and I look and feel like I've been run over.
But guess what. I didn't invent this. It's been done for a very very long time. So look-a-here ladies:
1. No one could explain to you what being a mother was like before you were one. And how about this. You can't explain to anyone either. And they kind of get sick of you trying. And you never know, they may have been through infertility hell and would give their right arm for a half an ounce of the spit up on your right shoulder.
2. When someone tells you to enjoy every last moment of being a mother of little children, look at the wispy far away look in their eyes and stop taking it personally. Their children are gone. They can no longer heal the hurt with a hug. To their children, they are old and not a necessity any more. I was recently in the OB office, and I saw the new mommies and daddies in there with their wee 2 week old babies. My youngest is 7 months old, and the sounds of those wee grunts and squirms put a nostalgic tear in my eye. So, yes... already the memory of the absolute exhaustion of those first few months is fading.
3. If people want to continue to give you advice for every stinking piece of developmental scrap a child may experience, take a good long look in the mirror. What are the chances you've done the exact same thing? Probably pretty dern good, yes? If you don't like all the advice, do what you tell your toddler to do. Use your words. Tell them.
4. Stop getting angry at your childless friends. Look. They didn't go out and procreate. Why should they stop having parties at night? Why should they sit around and wait on you? They shouldn't. I've been very lucky. I have great friends who have changed schedules for me. But they also have wonderful and fabulous nights out on the town while I'm at home hoping for the chance to poop in privacy before midnight. Yes, there's a pang. I don't have to wonder if it's like the pang you feel when you've wanted all your life to experience motherhood and finally said goodbye to it. I don't have to wonder because that was me a short 3 years ago. It's pretty much not the same.
5. Stop using excuses. I'm kind of over the whole "we're gonna fuck our kids up anyway so let it go" attitude. Yes. We're going to screw up. And yes, we're going to screw up royally. I've just the tiniest taste of screwing up a handful of times. Those are the times to forgive yourself and move on. Lesson learned. And lesson probably learned again and again again. But, shouldn't we probably give it more than a passing glance. Yes, we're gonna fuck it up. But shouldn't we kind of try not to by learning from our mistakes or at least trying to learn from our mistakes?
6. Find a friend. Find a mommy friend. Find a mommy friend that has kids about the same age difference as yours. And tell that woman all the times you want to crawl under the house and die. Tell her about how you fantasize about going outside with a beer and finding a magical cigarette all fresh and ready to light. Tell her ALL about it. She'll know. She'll understand. The person who has one baby when you have two; The person who has two when you have three; these people will not understand. If you tell someone who cannot understand, don't get pissy pants because they act like they just don't understand.
7. The next time you're with another mommy friend, and you feel an overwhelming urge to belittle another mommy's parenting skills, find a sock and shove it in your mouth. When you're the mommy not in the room, you know you're the mommy being talked about, don't you? Well, you should. So how about a chain reaction of shut up?
I have my thoughts on where this all comes from. I'm guessing we're pent up from the generations and generations of being drilled in the head with the June Cleavers and the Life Magazine articles on how to make your hard workin' man feel at home after his long day. But we're post Roseanne these days. The external forces you feel to be perfect matter not at all unless you welcome them into your defensive and crushed self esteem.
There are a heap whole lot of tough broads that have paved this path for us. Their secret miseries have given us voice. I think it's time to stop stomping our feet and screaming that we are not the weaker sex. We're not. We know it. Now let's act like it.