Nothing Left to Give

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about motherhood. She is staying home with her two young children and sounded exhausted. And like she could use a day (or week) off. Even though I work part time, I could still empathize with how she was feeling. I admitted to her that for a good chunk of last year, I hated being home alone with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to pieces and always have…but at that point, I just didn’t love that job.

A photo my son took of me, crying and nursing a baby on the floor of the airport.

A photo my son took of me, crying and nursing a baby on the floor of the airport.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I was just in a funk, needed more sleep, a few nights out, or if my kids were at stages that just grated on my every nerve, but I dreaded my days at home. I woke in the morning and immediately started counting the minutes until my husband would abandon me.

Granted, he abandoned me in our lovely home to go make some money to pay for said home, but still. He was escaping to the world of adults. Adults who, for the most part, make it through the day without tantrums or needing help wiping their butts. The fact that it was my choice to be home with our kids didn’t factor into my feelings when he left. Irrationally, I was upset that he was going to work and I was at home.

I’m sure there are people who just don’t understand. (Or at least they seem to not understand based on the things they say on social media, in their blogs, or in real life.) I guess they really love being home with their kids all the time and can appreciate every stage.

Well, hats off to those moms that apparently enjoy even the most awful of days. But that person isn’t me. Or my friend. She was just glad that I admitted to her that sometimes I hated my mom job, because she was feeling the same way and didn’t think she could say it. But there are times I think we are the only two people in the world who feel that way.

I simply don’t understand why it is such a horrible thing to admit that you don’t always love being around your children. I can love someone and still not want them to hang off of me for every waking second of the day. I have given birth to two very clingy children. They constantly push their father away and hang off of me. My two year old presses her face to mine to get as much surface area touching as possible. Adorable, yes…and also irritating at certain times. Like when I need to pee.

Yesterday my husband came home with our two children and I went outside to greet them. Immediately they both started wailing over some minor thing (like being forced to return a toy to the rightful owner and the other for getting their toy taken away) while also hanging off my legs. Both of them. I stood outside my house, unable to walk inside, while my children threw their tantrums and my neighbors looked at me askance.

But why do I have to look at that situation with rose-colored glasses and tell everyone how adorable it is that they love me SO much? Why can’t I say how irritating it is when my children act like my only purpose is to dote on their every wish and command? Why do I have to approach every challenging situation with my children with a positive attitude? I’m sorry, but some things are awful and no amount of spin will change my feelings on it.

When my first was about 6 months old, my mom told me that sometimes as a mother, “You just don’t have anything left to give.” At the time I was horrified. How could I not put the needs of my child ahead of my own for everything? Now, a few years later, I see her point. Am I a good mother when my children repeatedly wake me in the middle of the night? Heck, no. I’m crabby and short-tempered the following day. Teaching them to sleep through the night was one of the best things I did for our family. Am I good mother when I don’t take time for myself? Definitely not. I start resenting the time I spend with my family instead of appreciating it.

So, if you at times hate being a mom, that’s okay. We all know you love your kids. There is so much pressure to be an amazing mother that it leaves us with nothing left for ourselves. And it’s okay to reclaim something for yourself, you aren’t a superhuman. Sometimes, you just don’t have anything left to give.

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My Not So Intentional Gender Role

Training him young.

Training him young!

I chose to marry a man who was not a traditionalist. He didn’t expect me to stay home with our kids. He had grown up with a mother who worked at various points in his life and a father who worked from home, so if anything, you would think he would take on some of the traditionally female gender roles in our family.

And later when I was pregnant with our second child, we discussed that it would be easier for our family if I was home with the kids, but he didn’t ask me to do that. He wanted that to be my decision.

But last year when Christmas Eve rolled around, I cooked in the kitchen, my mother-in-law played with the kids…and my husband sat and chatted with his dad while drinking a beer.

Even with the best of intentions, my husband and I still end up gravitating toward the traditional gender roles. Despite consciously thinking that it is an equal partnership and we should both do fifty percent of the household chores and childrearing, in reality, that doesn’t happen.

I’m not alone in this. I’ve talked with other moms who agree that if they are there, their spouse assumes they will be the one managing the kids. I’m not sure if it’s because we pay more attention to our children than their fathers, if we just jump up to help them right away without giving our spouses a chance, or whether it is really is something deeper related to gender roles. But it happens.

Just the other day, my two year old pointed at the vacuum and said, “Mommy’s!” I have to admit that I was pretty cranky. Obviously I’m the one doing most of the vacuuming if she thinks it’s mine. And later that day when she pointed at the remote control and said “Daddy’s!” I thought that it was time for a change.

Clearly I need to sit on the couch and play more video games. And probably drink beer while my husband cooks.