There are moments in life where we hit a new level of independence and experience growth so significant that it changes our reality. I had one last night that was so strong it reminded me of leaving adolescence.
My husband and I co –parent; when I go out at night there is no need to tell my husband what my son will have for dinner, what his routine is or when he should go upstairs to bed. I walk out the door give them both a kiss, tell them that I love them and don’t worry about how things are going at home. I know that Owen will feel loved, learn and gain confidence.
I realize, though, that while we effectively co-parent my husband will never understand what stay at home parenting is. He’s a smart guy so intellectually he understands that my role as stay at home mother is the most important in our family. He has a fairly high stress job that requires a 60-70 hour work- week with frequent travel. He has a tough job and hearing about our days of swimming, reading and trips to the grocery store has to make some part of him green.
How do I explain the monotony that I experience at least once during each of my days now? That chasing my two year old around the yard while he stops and asks what every pebble is makes me want to scream, “it’s a freaking pebble. Just like the last 37 that you asked me about” but instead causes me, with a level of patience that I am convinced must be voiced over, to say, “it’s a pebble honey, a small rock that we can find all over the earth.”
If the most credentialed and loving nanny walked into my dinnertime chaos and said “I have found you the job that you have been searching for since college with triple the pay you made two years ago. Your suit is ready and hanging in the closet. Go upstairs, put it on, apply your make-up and I will have coffee waiting for you on your way out. Go. Return to work. Have intellectually stimulating conversations on a daily basis. Receive praise for a job well done. Accomplish tangible, definable tasks and feel good that you can produce a project that people will admire, “ even then (through tears and possibly even while kicking and screaming) I would tell her no (sigh). I would tell her that there is still no place else that I would choose to be. That when I hear that little voice call for “mommy” after nap and when I hear him construct a sentence that I didn’t think he was capable of, my body is filled with a sense of accomplishment greater than a professional being promoted to senior level. That on those occasions when we are just sitting on the couch “having a chat” and my toddler looks up at me and says so adoringly that it truly looks like he has stars in his eyes “this is my mommy” that on those occasions I know so intuitively that my role here on this earth is God-given. That raising this little being– teaching him, cuddling him, developing his compassion, self-esteem and knowledge base– is shaping the future of our planet.
After leaving play-group or music together or gymnastics with my son as I dread the thought of us coming home to an empty house where we eat lunch together- and you know the drill- do everything else together, I will embrace this new role. It is a short time that my son will be home with me and I don’t want to miss it.
Jennifer Andersen lives in a coastal town north of Boston with her husband and two children, ages 1 and 3. She founded www.ponderingjane.com, Honest Musing and Family Living to offer practical and emotional support to families, specifically those with a stay at home parent and those practicing Attachment Parenting. By sharing her very real stories of day to day living, she hopes to lessen the feelings of isolation that many stay at home parents feel, and open honest conversation about how challenging and valuable active parenting is.