I've been a stay-at-home mom for over six years now. I do love it and know that for myself and my children, it's the best thing. But sometimes I still feel like I have to explain myself - validate what I do - to others, and it can be so frustrating.
My 10-month-old is in the throes of teething right now. The overwhelming exhaustion at 2 a.m. is too much for my husband and I sometimes, and tempers flare. Tylenol doesn't work, and there isn't a drop of Orajel to be found in the house (I never had to use it with my other two). He angrily asked me what I wanted him to do - sit up with the baby? Of course not, but I know you want me to, because, after all, I don't have to get up early tomorrow morning to earn a paycheck. So after letting Mister Baby play, holding him, rocking, nursing, whatever I could do to get him to settle down, I finally get him back to sleep and trudge back to bed around 2 a.m. Of course, everyone else is asleep.
My husband is very supportive and a good dad. But it's moments like these when I just want to scream. Why am I the only one who is awake right now and dealing with this problem? Just because I supposedly don't have anything better to do? Just because "I'm the mom"?
I'll never forget the time my mother in law told me that 'her son needs his rest, and you can take a nap during the day.' What about my rest? Why are my sleep needs less important? And when exactly can I take a nap? Is that before, during or after my other children destroy the house and climb all over me like I'm a jungle gym? Sure, I can take a nap. Define nap, exactly. Because sleeping with one eye and one ear open isn't exactly a nap.
This morning as I got my daughter off to pre-school, I had to shovel the driveway after a heavy snowfall. Where we live, we're lucky to have maintenance personnel who plow for us, so I shouldn't complain. Sometimes my husband will if he has time before leaving for work. However, the plow driver has a schedule - those who work and 'need to be somewhere' come first. He'll get to our driveway whenever he has time. Meaning, you don't work and really need to be anywhere, so your drive might get plowed, it might not. This wasn't any different last winter when I was eight months pregnant, either.
When I first got married eight years ago, I wasn't working. I had relocated to be with my husband, and decided to look for a job afterwards. I wanted to be choosy this time, searching for a journalism job that was related to my career field, instead of taking a job outside the field again that would lead me down yet another path away from my chosen profession. Thankfully I could afford to be choosy, but when a colleague of my husband's found out I wasn't working, he asked, "What are you going to do all day?" I flatly answered, "I don't know .... sit around and eat bon-bons, I guess." He just gave me a blank stare.
Perhaps I'm getting defensive. I know I'm doing the best job at mother- and wife-hood as I can, and I know that most people with a brain know that it's hard work. But just because 'I don't work' doesn't mean I don't have sleep requirements like anyone else, or things to do. I don't want to have to justify myself as a person or define myself by my job outside the home. I don't want to have to hear, when I've decided to leave the house to do something, to be back in two hours for no reason, even though my husband is perfectly allowed to be gone for much longer periods than that. Why am I on such a 'short leash,' just because I'm the mother? I don't really consider myself a feminist, and I understand my importance in this household, but sometimes I question these roles, even though I don't know what the right answer really is.
In the meantime, it's estimated that children have 20 primary teeth, and Mister Baby currently has six. So it looks like there will be a lot more sleepless nights in our (my?) future.
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