This is hard. This is the hardest job I’ve ever done. I know people say that all the time about parenting young children but it doesn’t hold weight until you’re there, knee deep in a toddler tantrum. At the grocery store. I used to work as an RN in the OR of a busy surgery center. And you know what? A twelve hour shift without a decent lunch break pales in comparison to my current daily routine. At least then I could pee by myself. And at least I didn’t pee ON myself. Honestly, going back to work for me would be the easier choice. Instead, I choose to stay home.
I’m a Stay At Home Mom.
Despite the incessant need for coffee, I consider myself lucky to raise my own children. I get the chance to smell their messy maple syrup hair after a pancake breakfast. To see my daughter progress from crawling to cruising. To make Play-Doh shapes with my son. And to witness the beginning of a lifelong bond that my children will share. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not tired, sometimes bored, and feel like who I used to be is slowly fading away.
After my son was born, I was eager to go back to work. I yearned for adult conversation and eight hours of non-diapering bliss. And even though I was pumping every three hours and constantly stalking the Nest Cam for a glimpse of my baby boy, I sensed that my time was valued.
I had purpose outside of motherhood.
I was a nurse.
Then, my daughter arrived. I had two under two, felt a strong pull to stay home, and an even stronger pull to save money on a West LA Nanny. Pretty soon, I was gone. The friend, the wife, the nurse, the daughter, I used to be — was gone. I was their mother now and became completely and utterly absorbed in their day to day needs. Dinner? OK! Water bottle? Check! Time to breastfeed? Sure. Play date at the park? Let’s go! Vacuum up the snack you dropped on the floor when I told you to sit down and eat it? Why the hell not! I could no longer tell where I started and their tiny toes began.
Somedays when the house stayed clean and my son wasn’t throwing toys, I felt like I was winning. Other days were pure survival. And in between folding yet another load of laundry and reheating my cup of coffee for the fourth time that day, I wondered if I made the right choice. Am I fulfilled? Am I happy?
The answer— Yes and no.
And you know what? That’s okay.
When you tell people you have young children, they tell you to “enjoy it”. To “live in the moment” and that “one day you’ll miss it”. They’re right, because nothing lasts forever. Not their toothless smiles, or their tantrums, not their need to be held, and hopefully not the ever growing pile of laundry. They are always changing, evolving. As are we.
I am still a licensed nurse.
I will always be a mother.
But I won’t always be a SAHM.
As we know, motherhood is a push and pull of emotions and a state of constant giving. We give so much of ourselves all day long that it only makes sense that a part of us gets lost in the process. But maybe it’s supposed to be that way. To lose certain parts of who we thought we were in order to become who we should be - nurturing, loving, patient, cold cups of coffee drinkers.