Thursday, January 19, 2012

I’m not a bad mom. I’m an honest one.

I almost didn’t post this. About a month ago, I started writing about how hard being a SAHM is. I wrote about how I really didn’t like some parts of it, some days of it.  How sometimes I just wished someone else could do this.

Then I hated myself for those words. What kind of mother doesn’t want to take care of her baby? Especially a baby as sweet and happy as mine is most of the time? I decided I was the shittiest mom on the planet and stuck the post in my drafts folder, never intending for it to see the light of day.

Then, a couple days ago someone on Facebook posted a link to this article. The author writes that being a parent is hard, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love it. Even if we don’t love every single second, that doesn’t make us bad parents. All the comments made me realize I’m not the only mom that feels this way. And a weight was lifted.

So I blew the dust off my old post, spruced it up a bit, and hit “publish.” Here goes….

Some moments, I feel so close to Quinn. Like when he’s nursing, I look down at his sweet face, and I wish he wasn’t almost a year old. I don’t want to stop nursing him. I know I will miss this feeling, holding him close and being able to simultaneously give him nourishment and comfort. I want that moment to last forever.

Then he bites me. Or he smacks me in the face. Or he kicks me in the larynx. Or, my favorite, he pushes his foot into my throat! While I’m dodging these flailing limbs of destruction, I think “Get this kid off of me!” And I feel like crap for not wanting to nurse him anymore.

Bath time can be fun. We splash and sing and squirt water from his rubber dinosaur toys. But sometimes bath time is dreadful. He just wants to play, and he fights me when I try to actually wash him. It’s like wrestling a giant, slippery fish. “Quinn, please hold still. Quinn, sit on your bottom. Quinn, don’t drink the bath water.” When it’s over, I’m exhausted and drenched.

Changing his diaper and getting him dressed also resemble a wrestling match. I try to distract him with toys, songs and tickles, but sometimes he just won’t hold still. At some point during the process, I usually get head-butted in the teeth.

Occasionally, Quinn eats really well, sweetly opening his mouth like a little baby bird and eating every last bite. But more often than not, feeding him takes a ridiculous amount of coaxing. I sing and dance and put on a frickin’ Broadway show, but he  stubbornly purses his lips and shakes his head while I chase his mouth with the spoon. One meal takes almost an hour, and I can’t believe I have to do this four times. Every. Single. Day. 

And I’m supposed to teach him sign language during all this? Yeah, right! I barely have enough arms to accomplish the task at hand, let alone two more to repeatedly sign “eat” and “more.”

Sometimes, I don’t want to do any of this stuff anymore. I don’t want to nurse him or bathe him or change him or feed him. I just want to play with him and make up games and read books and go for walks. I want to go to the park and build forts and give piggy back rides. I want to snuggle and cuddle and smell his hair. I want to rock him until he falls asleep on my shoulder. That’s what I thought being a SAHM would be like. But the fun stuff seems like such a small fraction of our days together.

How awful does this make me? Pretty awful, right? There must be something wrong with me. Or so I thought until I read “Don’t Carpe Diem” by a woman who’s sick of being told to cherish every moment because it goes by so fast. My favorite line is “I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.”

Even if we could savor every moment, wouldn’t the special ones lose their value? I wouldn’t appreciate those moments when I’m nursing Quinn and he’s not kicking me in the throat if he never kicked me in the throat. I think we have to have some frustrating and exhausting moments so we can recognize and cherish the sweet ones.

Many jobs are really hard, and people love them anyway. Even if you don’t love every single thing about your job, you stay for a reason. The same goes for the SAHM job, although I would argue that it’s harder than any paying gig and a hundred times more rewarding.

So being a mom is hard, and sometimes I hate the hard parts. But I love my son and I love being his mom. So I don’t live in a state of mommy-bliss every moment of every day. So what? That’s doesn’t make me a bad mom. Just an honest one.

If only every moment could be this sweet and silly.