Sunday, November 9, 2014

owning the moment.

I keep waiting to hate this.

That's the rhetoric, right? That being a stay-at-home parent is overwhelming, lonely, and unfulfilling? That it's repetitive and relentless and smelly? That it's the hardest job there is?

So I keep waiting for those feelings to creep in. I poke around my heart cautiously, during story time at the library and walks around the neighborhood, to check for the negativity. I'm not optimistic by nature, so I'm used to searching for unhappiness until I find it. I'm serious: I keep waiting to hate this.

But I don't. I love it more every day.

The singular focus of "baby/household" is so much easier for me than splitting my heart and mind between home and work - which really required much more than devoting half of myself to home and half to work. In each setting, I was the manager of myriad tasks. I could multitask and delegate until the cows came home (and then delegate who would care for which cows), but the ultimate responsibility of quality task completion still rested on my shoulders. Not to mention that both were essentially thankless positions with escalating responsibilities but very little power; with deep ramifications for anything done wrong (or "wrong"), but almost no acknowledgement for things done well.

She's my instant gratification.
The truth is that this - being a stay-at-home mom - is far from the hardest job I've ever had. Don't get me wrong; I see how it could be. I'm telling you, I'm good at finding reasons why something might suck. Maybe if Rowan had a different temperament or had developmental issues, or if we weren't a good "fit". Maybe if J.J. didn't work regular weekday hours, or if he were less involved with her during his off-time. Maybe if I had more than one child. Maybe if I loathed housework - or young children (don't laugh - a lot of people realllly don't like the baby/toddler stages). Maybe if I didn't have regular breaks, courtesy of my mother-in-law, or weekly meet-ups with my new mothers' group. Maybe if I were still in that horrible sleep-deprivation stage, the one that eased up right when I quit my job and she started only waking up once per night (at nine months old). Maybe if (and this is a biggie) it hadn't been my choice. Maybe if I weren't coming straight from a field where burnout is ubiquitous, and a position where it didn't matter what I did, it was never enough. Conversely, I can hand Rowan carpet fuzz, and it's like gold to her - as opposed to my previous job, where I could hand out free ponies and inadvertently cause a mutiny because they weren't unicorns instead.

Maybe it's because I know there's an expiration date. I do the bills every month. I'm witnessing our financial freefall. I'm acutely aware that this SAHM thing is fundamentally unsustainable for us. But it's still not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

And maybe I'll grow to hate it, or at least be bored with it. Could this just be a honeymoon period? Five months...that's nothing, right? Hard to say. So far, every day - literally, every day - I'm grateful that my biggest stressors are that it's tricky to get her down for naps and that I'm sometimes low on activity ideas. In the end, though, she's just one person for me to focus on and to care for. It doesn't hurt that I'm madly in love with her. 

Because pigtails.
The last thing I want to do by broadcasting my satisfaction (which I'm superstitious about anyway) is to underscore someone else's dissatisfaction. This is not everyone's cup of tea. I get it. I mean - that's really why I'm surprised at how this is unfolding for me. But I'm not trying to brag or invoke jealousy. Remember? I'm not an optimist. I know nothing lasts forever. I know I could be living in the moment at the expense of the future. That's why I'm relishing this deep contentment while it lasts and really trying to own my happiness.

I'm fulfilled, I'm challenged, I'm busy, I'm happy. I'm happy.

My girl and I, we make a good pair. So I'm soaking it up while I can.

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