Bitterness baked in my chest as I crouched over a mound of play pizza slices, toppings, and plastic cutlery. I’ve picked up these wooden wonders so many times this week I want to slice Melissa & Doug with their very own miniature pizza cutter. It’s Friday night and unlike working moms rushing home to finally cuddle and hang with their kids for 48 hours I’m ready to murder two beloved American toy makers. I’m not trying cut-down working moms but sometimes I think I’d enjoy motherhood more if I didn’t see my kids all day.
Let me just say (this rant aside) I respect all types of moms. We all make the right choices for our own families. But I’m feeling envious of how much my working mom friends seem to enjoy their children. They don’t seem to mind the banging, the clanging or the potty-training. They’re overjoyed to spend a few hours before bedtime together. This is about the time I want to go hide in the toilet closet for some deep breathing.
Tonight, I’m particularly upset because I’ve just declined a great opportunity to go back to work part-time. I turned down the job for a host of logistical reasons that would impact the lives of my husband and kids. It’s not like we don’t need the money. We do. I suppose I’m holding onto the belief that I am giving the gift of my time and presence.
Although, I don’t always stay present. Sometimes I’m snappy and irritable instead of gracious and loving. I guess part of me is ready to sip coffee and check emails in a quiet office. The reality of full-time home life tends to pack more chaos and joy than I ever imagined. But it’s not balanced. Not at all. We swing from laughing to melting down faster than I can say Paw Patrol. Moderation gets lost like pretend pizza toppings in our high pile carpet. It’s almost too much love. Too much togetherness. Too much giving.
I practice meditation and walk to stay calm. This doesn’t happen every day. On the days I miss, I literally have to “check myself before I wreck myself…” or rather… wreck my relationship with my kids. Today is one of those days. I’ve ignored my own needs. I’m forced to tell my son the truth. “Mommy’s had a long day. I need to do some stretching, relax and calm down a little.” He tells me “well, relax then.” Like it’s that easy. (Well, maybe it is.)
We sit on the floor and I get back to my breath for thirty seconds before my daughter starts yanking on a lamp cord. The bitterness softens. I redirect her gently. My work at home is mostly inner-work. I see few external rewards. Clearly, there’s no paycheck. I get a smile. An “I love you.” I’m constantly minding my reactions. I center myself. They’ll only be young for a little while. I realize come Monday morning working moms may actually envy me. I’ve managed to step away when society tells us to “lean in.” Some might consider me fortunate.
Then it hits me. I’m not mad at working moms or Melissa & Doug. The mommy wars aren’t waged against one another. We’re all fighting a civil war within. We’re all making sacrifices and too often second guessing ourselves. Anger aimed outside of myself signals a profound need to look inward. I’m wondering if I measure up. If I’m making the right choices? If I’m a good example to my kids? If they’ll survive the moments I’m short tempered? Maybe we all feel this way. Clearly, I need to keep meditating.
Tonight, I’ve had enough. I love my family—there’s no second guessing that. I must combat my mothering insecurities with compassion. I’m human. Gratitude can guard my heart against bitterness. That’s my work. I may not like picking up tiny little pieces but I adore watching my children play happily in their toy kitchen. It is really comforting to see my working mom friends relish time with their children. I guess when I choose to go back to work my kids will be just fine too. Children eventually learn, whether we stay home all day or only spend a few hours, our time together is the greatest gift.
About the Author
Camaron Brooks is a mom, wife, and writer. She maintains her sanity by hosting dance parties in her living room and sharing her struggles on her blog reportinglivefromstudiob.com. The former TV/Reporter Anchor is also an indie Author. Her book Reporting Live From Studio B documents her journey from newsroom to nursery and all the hilarious pitfalls along the way. You can follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/