Reunited and it Feels So Weird
You know what is the worst thing about taking a holiday without your kid?
It’s the coming back.
It’s tasting the freedom of no diapers or force-feedings (which I don’t do but have vivid dreams about), no “I want that cup instead of the other one – oh forget it I want both cups – GIVE THEM ALL TO ME MUMMY” lifestyle and then returning to it full force as there is no easing in with a toddler.
It started on Friday, the day before we left for our mini-holiday that my parents had so kindly given us – babysitting included. It was day three of being at home with Aya myself while Daddy worked before this mini-holiday that I started to freak out. I thought I could do it, I really did, but I make a terrible failure of a stay-at-home mom. I don’t actually know if that is true because it could just be my anxiety talking, but I find staying home with a 2.5 year-old the equivalent of burning up in a hellfire of my own making.
Again, I will not preface this conversation with how much I love my daughter (as it is a given), I will only say that I find staying home with my daughter difficult – as if I am not programmed for it or chemically wired to withstand the repetitious, monotonous routines that constitute a toddler’s everyday existence. I am deeply jealous of those who are, including my partner who would gladly stay home with my daughter EVERY SINGLE DAY which I find both brave and horrifying.
Does this make me feel like a bad mother? Yes. Does it make me feel like a bad person? Kinda. Can I change it. Nopers. I’ve tried. I think the question that I don’t ask and dance around however is, can I accept it. The answer to that, I believe, is not yet.
I want to repeat that I am deeply resentful and jealous of those moms – those PEOPLE – who can stay home with their children. I wish I liked it. I don’t. And don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe that stay-at-home moms dig it all the time and/or that it is easier for them in some way (except the part where maybe they like it and find it rewarding and, you know, can actually do it). I just have this resentment that goes back to the birth of my daughter when – even then – I didn’t feel like “everyone else.” I want some of that endorphin-rush goodness that most mothers get. Instead, I fell into a deep dark hole that sometimes – just sometimes – threatens to come back calling and make me claw out of its deception, lies, and dankness yet again.
I think that I have been very privileged in that most of how I have always spent my time has been enjoyable for me. Therefore, I selfishly (and a little immaturely) expect that I should not have to do things that I don’t enjoy – or especially (gasp) that I don’t feel good at. Feelings of inadequacy are not really my jam so I turned inside, on myself, and make up stories about my ineptitude that eventually leads to feelings that I simply will not be able to cope. And at this time, it’s not even 2pm.
My partner reminds me that dealing with a toddler is hard, and instead of exhausting myself trying to do everything with her, I could have had a quiet day. He is right. I am also getting sick at this point and am at the end of my proverbial rope. We hadn’t even packed our bags at this point.
The long weekend goes by in a flash and I have missed her the whole time. We have bought her things, talked about her brilliance, smiled silently with our own private thoughts and memories of how magical she is. And then roughly 15 minutes into our reunion, I am already exhausted, my body remembering how draining and physically onerous a toddler can be – especially when mommy has a cold (or really anything going on in her life). I feel guilt, wrapped in love, with a sprig of anxiety and a touch of dread. I can honestly say that some (most?) days, I don’t feel cut out for the demands of mama-ing.
My partner, when I told him how anxious I was feeling at the thought of more holiday time – this time as a family – this season, he reminded me of my own advice that I had previously offered him: That we must lean in to the demands of parenting not just because resistance is futile, but also because our presence makes everything easier. He gave me this advice not in a Sheryl Sandberg kind of way (not that there is anything wrong with that) but in this beautifully Buddhist-inspired way – in this way that recognizes that more fear, pain, and suffering comes from resistance.
I have never been good at surrender. I am much better at futile resistance. But if I am to survive motherhood, I am going to have to recalibrate and recognize that nothing good comes from denying what is, how I feel, or what I am confronting.
Motherhood is my biggest challenge.
So game on for another year…I guess?