So many times in the past three months I have watched Leah and just thought to myself, “man, why did we ruin a good thing?” I mean she can tell me what she wants. She can ask for what she needs. She requires no diapers. She sleeps all night long. She can get from point A to point B all by herself. And she has 100% control of her head. But for some reason we decided to start all over again. From scratch. And we built another one of these little people who requires everything her sister does not.
It’s been a crazy three months indeed. I was really thrown for a loop on what motherhood really entails. When it was just Leah and I and I mentioned to people that I was a stay at home mom I would get comments like, “oh, that’s that’s the hardest job on the planet!” And, “how do you do that??” And I would just think to myself – the hardest job on the planet?! No way – I love this gig. It’s cake! And really, compared to my new gig, it was cake. One on one was totally doable. I’ve always heard that the most difficult transition in child adding (is that a thing?) is going from 1 little rat to 2 little rats. When you go from 0-1 you’re just so stinking happy to be finally experiencing everything everyone has always told you about. The love, the fun, the milestones. And then anything after 2 is just adding to the chaos. But going from your one perfect little first born child… to trying to balance two of them with just one of you… hard. Unlike any other challenge in the world.
Now when I get that same statement I would just to exclaim at the top of my lungs, “I KNOW! It’s so hard – please, pull up a chair and let me tell you just what I do every single day!” “Let me tell you how I don’t sit, don’t sleep, don’t eat, and don’t shower.”
I had a really hard time with it the first month. When I was needed around the clock with virtually no breaks. I judged my success of the day by how many things got done. You know, were the girls fed? Laundry done? Counters clean? Dinner cooked. After all, staying at home is my job… and these are the requirements. At least the requirements I set for myself, and ones that I had never had a problem achieving in the past. But during that first month or so I would look around at the end of the day and it just looked like nothing got done. And I would have to go to bed anyways because I just couldn’t stand any longer. It drove me to tears a lot, and I couldn’t figure out why I just wasn’t getting it. At the end of every day there were piles of dirty clothes on the floor. The counters were buried with everything from mail to burp cloths. Nothing was dusted, vacuumed, or washed. I asked Kyle to eat Wendy’s… a lot. I was completely overwhelmed by how to tackle it all. And then I had a breakthrough.
One of the nights when I left them all to fend for themselves while I walked the aisles of Target just to get a break it dawned on me… I’m getting nothing done because I’m doing everything! Being a stay at home mom means very little gets publicly recognized. Now, I’m not asking for public recognition, but hear me out. I’m assuming Kyle appreciates the fact that I’m keeping his kids alive, but unlike his job, I have no set worth to this gig. You know, $$$. I don’t get a paycheck that puts a value on the tasks I complete every day. I don’t get performance reviews. Kyle doesn’t sit me down and say, “I see the little one is growing at a record pace, here’s a raise!” Or, “I see the big one is familiar with the alphabet and counting, please, tell me the protocol you put in place to make that happen.” I just kind of do these things every day because, well, they have to get done. So I judged my own success by how clean my house was – that was something I could see every day. If it was clean… I had a good work day. If it wasn’t… I failed. Dinner – same thing. And I was really hard on myself, not realizing through the screaming that I had it all backwards.
My counters weren’t clean because I was literally growing a person… around the clock. The laundry was in piles on the floor because I used my spare time to play catch with a two year old. We ate a lot of Wendy’s because I chose blowing raspberries til my lips were numb and making playdoh birthday cakes over dinner prep. There is only one of me around here every day and there could be 1000 tasks if I listed them all out – but I have to stop myself. Raspberries and playdoh are everything to these little people I choose to share my days with. And that leaves laundry and dishes to being nothing. So since then I have changed my tune. I feel less guilty on the days where I don’t cook. I don’t care (as much) when I see stacks of clothes. I’ve taught myself that on the nights when I look around and it seems like I’ve gotten nothing done – it’s because that day I did everything.
And with that new philosophy I have forged ahead in this life of motherhood. It has been the most eye opening experience of my life, this mom of two business. Some days I wish someone would ask me a question harder than, “what this is, mommy?” when the answer is clearly, “a triangle.” And some days I wish the shoulders of my shirts didn’t have spit up stains. Some days I watch Kyle leave for work and get jealous that he’s wearing real clothes. Some days I must run out the door the second he pulls in the driveway. And some days I choose to take the trash out in sub-zero temperatures just to get a breath. But then some days Quinn smiles at me first thing in the morning with the best little dimple and I can’t wait to start my day with her. Some days Leah gives me a sentence like, “don’t cut my beena (banana), mommy, I promise!” and I get to laugh at how she’s trying out the English language regardless of if it makes any sense. Some days in the middle of playing “doctor” for the 87th time Leah tells me, “this is real fun, mommy” and it takes everything I have not to scoop her up and smother her in kisses – and sometimes I do it anyways. And some days stretching little arms and saying, “sooooo big” does more for my soul than a clean load of laundry ever could. Some days I sob. Some days I delight in my girls. Some days I’m frustrated beyond words. Some days I praise every little thing they do. Some days I hide in the shower. And some days all of those things happen in 10 minutes.
But I’m learning that’s motherhood. Trying to make acceptable members of society out of little people who spit on the floor is an exhausting endeavor, but it’s the one I signed up for. This job is my heart. These girls are my pride (not like lions, but like I’m proud of them). We did not ruin a good thing by adding on to the crazy, we made a good thing more wonderful.
I should thank them for teaching me that a clean house is not the measure of my success in a day. Their little giggles are.