Its hard for me to even write about this because it brings up a lot of ick in me.
I am a work from home mom. Here are two truths about my life: #1: I feel proud that I get to stay home with my daughter and every day she is taken care of by someone who finds it genetically impossible not to love her (me). And #2: I feel guilty all the time.
Every day I get on Facebook and read a new article posted by this friend or that friend on the dangers of so-and-so for children, or the right way to parent. These articles invariably tell me I am doing something very wrong. I am on the internet too much. I am feeding my child poison if I give her anything pre-packaged and easy. I am providing her with too many toys. The tv I have on in the mornings is frying her brain.
Remember “back in the day” portrayals of childhood? How many of those do you see moms on the floor with their children every waking hour playing? Those moms got to drink and smoke while pregnant, for crying out loud! Now we are warned of the dangers of warm baths and turkey sandwiches while pregnant. Those kids got to run outside and come home when it got dark, and their moms weren’t even spying on them with a video monitor.
I read somewhere that as soon as psychology entertained the idea that nurture could play an even bigger role than nature in the nature vs. nurture debate, mothers were fucked. Because it is now on my shoulders to make sure my child has all the right ingredients for the perfect childhood. And FUCK that’s a lot of pressure.
I confessed to my husband last weekend a deep dark secret of mine. After about 15 minutes of “playing” with G, I am wiped out. I am done, over it, so bored I think my brain might explode. And simultaneously incredibly, incredibly guilty for ever having that thought. Inner Ashley scolds me because someone out there would love to stay home and play all day every day with their child. It scolds me because every day I am reminded that I’m going to “miss this”. Of course I know I’m going to miss this! But “your gonna miss this your gonna miss this your gonna miss this” playing like a broken record in my head as I face my thousandth singing of Old McDonald in the past ten minutes is HELPING NO ONE.
I feel the pull of both roles, the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. I have the best of both worlds, but also the expectations of both worlds. I have to be a strong employee and a perfect stay-at-home mom. I have to APPRECIATE. And oh, I really, really, really do. I swear to you I do. But unfortunately the slot for #1 priority doesn’t have six spots available. It has one.
As G transitions from two naps to one, I panic inside for what that means for work. The other day I had to put her in her crib for “quiet time” (read: playing by herself) so I could finish a project for work. It almost made me sick to do it, I felt so incredibly awful.
I am really, really, really sick of being told I can do better. There are about a billion blog posts and articles out there about how to be a better mom. Am I not good enough as I am? Apparently not, because everyone under the sun has a tip or advice to make you that much better.
When do we get to find out if we got an A in parenting? When does that report card come in the mail? When is the day I get to sit back with a martini and cable reality tv and pat myself on the back for a job well-done? I am getting the idea that this day will never come. That it is my burden as a mom to wonder always if I have done enough.
I am simultaneously grateful and sick of this world of constant reminders to be present. Constant advice (solicited or not) at the swipe of a fingertip.
I have big aspirations and then the real world kicks in. I make myself big promises: less time on my phone, more home-made food, more “enriching” play time (WHATEVER THAT MEANS! SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THAT MEANS???). And then I fall short. Again and again I fall short.
This summer has been full of swimming and parks and the zoo and dinosaurs and fairs and the library and playdates and bubbles and sprinklers and fireworks and still I am berating myself for not spending every waking second in eye contact with my daughter. Still I wonder if I am giving her enough experiences to stimulate her. Still I wonder if she is going to make it out of childhood without me ruining it somehow.
She is brilliant. She is beautiful. She is healthy. She is happy. Will and I can’t think of a single thing on our baby wish list that she isn’t. She is perfect. So perfect that it makes me feel I have to be perfect. I take stock every morning: she is still perfect. I haven’t ruined her yet. But I might be one day closer.
This afternoon my mom offered to pick Gia up after she got off work so I could shower after working all morning on a deadline. As I am mid-sentence writing this post, my mom calls. And, Ok you guys, you can’t make this kind of stuff up. She told me Gia had picked up her cell-phone and asked for mommy. “What did you want to tell mommy?” my mom asked in the background. And then the sweetest little voice in the whole world chirped up, “yuv you!”
Yuv you. I think its going to be ok, at least for today. My baby yuvs me.