It was one of those days. You know the kind. You wake up to yet another day home with the kids. The weather’s sunny and warm, meaning you’ll all want to be outside but you wonder if you have the energy to carry yourself and the kids through the day.
I decide to pack us up and drive to our city’s Public Gardens, my 4 year old asking from the backseat “Is there a playground there?” (No). He whines that it won’t be any fun as we sit in lines of traffic and construction work. It turns out the preschooler’s happy to run along the gravel paths, race over bridges and throw rocks in the pond. My toddler squeals at the ducks waddling in and out of the water.
I can’t help but notice the other moms at the park, dressed in their trendy tops that hang over their toned thighs. Their pin straight blonde hair shining. Staring at them leaves me feeling frumpy and flabby. Why do I do this to myself?
We find a big patch of grass to sit down on. I let the sun toast my shins while the boys munch on grapes and slices of mozzarella. Our 80 minutes of meter time is coming to an end so we start our way back to the car. I’ve plopped the toddler onto his brother’s lap in the stroller, to make the walk speedier. The tourists in the double decker bus stare at us from their windows, pointing with amusement.
A piercing headache hits me the second I step into our house, which is followed by my 4 year old’s complaints that he has nothing to play with and he hates our home. My toddler decides he’ll spend the rest of the day screaming at the top of his lungs anytime his brother is within a meter of his personal space.
It was one of those days. You know the kind. By the end of it I want to curl up in a ball and cry, and in truth almost do, but my husband gets home just in time, and the Tylenol has started to do its job, and instead I step outside for a walk. The wind blows my hair in all directions as I take a deep inhale, the scent of lilacs in the air is all I need to push me onward. I return home to the sight of my boys smiling and waving from the living room window.
The pastor at my church recently spoke on finding your “calling”. After the service I was chatting with a mom of 3, the conversation quickly turning to the challenges of staying home with kids. “It’s not easy, but it’s for such a short time,” she says, “It really is my calling.” My pastor had used words like “burden” and “passion” and “sacrifice”, which had me imagining myself working in an orphanage overseas, not as a stay-at-home mother.
But alas, this is the role I’ve stepped into. “Well, you just have to stick it out,” my husband says to me after I’ve vented my frustrations about being “stuck” at home (his one-line therapy sessions, though void of sympathy, have a way of snapping me back to reality and seeing a little more clearly than I did before).
Could I go look for a new job, pursue my teaching career, earn a new degree? Of course I could. If I really wanted to I could do all of these things.
But all of these pursuits bring with them their own baggage. As writer Mark Manson puts it: “Everything sucks, some of the time…Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.”*
At this point in time, being a stay-at-home mom is the thing I am willing to sacrifice for. It comes with the struggles and rotten days and rough patches that I am willing to tolerate. My home – the one that smells of dirty diapers and overflowing hampers, you know the kind – is where my heart is, and I am learning that I am happiest and at my best when I follow her lead. So, for now, home is where I belong. And thankfully, like any job, being a stay-at-home mom only sucks some of the time.
Tomorrow is almost always a better day.
*I enjoyed Mark Manson’s article about thinking about your life purpose which you can read here (he uses some language in his writing so if this offends you it might not be your cup of tea).
*Author and creativity guru Elizabeth Gilbert gave a fantastic talk on living a curiosity driven life instead of searching for that one and only passion, which you can watch here.