Oh, this is going to sound perilously depressive, but here we go anyway.
Last night, m* intimated that perhaps I am not happy being a mother. Or maybe she just suggested that she thought she was catching that vibe from me. I think she couched it in believing that I was very maternal before we had a kid, but now maybe I was feeling like it wasn’t for me. Although I took it terribly personally at the time (I know you are saying I am a horrible parent and that I hate doing it) I actually know that she didn’t mean it the way I took it. It was an innocent remark on how I’ve been feeling and behaving lately.
So, this morning, as I happily slept in until 10am, sat on the couch watching as m* played energetically with The Who, and planned what I would be doing for the evening, out by myself, I got to wondering. Am I happy being a mother? Is this the life I wanted? Is it everything I thought it would be? (The answer to that last one is most assuredly no because I am of the firm belief that you can never know what it is going to be like to raise a child before you do it.) But really, do I like it?
I remember when The Who was a little smaller, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, and it took way more physical energy to parent him (hauling the bucket car seat, bringing along lots of formula, washing bottles all the time, changing multiple blowout diapers, etc.) I used to wake up with him in the morning and start counting down the hours until nap. And when he started stirring from his nap, I’d immediately do the calculations on how long it was ’til bedtime. I don’t think I got much joy at all out of our time together, always waiting for my time alone. But then, miraculously and seemingly suddenly, that changed. I stopped thinking about his awake hours as Mama-jail and sometimes, nap time and bedtime actually snuck up on me. What? It’s 7:30 already? But we’re just getting started!
Today? Not so much. He is napping now and I dread his waking. I know that m* will be out running errands this afternoon and the care and entertainment will be solely up to me — at least until I get to go out on my own. 3 hours, 48 minutes. Not that I’m counting…
What am I doing here? Was m* right? (She usually is; she perceives things about me way before I do most of the time.) Do I hate being a parent? Am I not really maternal? I certainly don’t get joy out of playing with him the way she does. I love showing him new things. I love teaching him things. I love facilitating enriching experiences, but I don’t love playing. I like caretaking. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I don’t mind the menial labor tasks of parenting: bathing, dressing, combing hair. Diaper changes, making lunch, buckling in and out of the car seat. I like keeping him clean, safe, and fed. But that’s not all there is to it. I know that I would miss him insanely if he wasn’t around or if I took off on my own. I know that I’d long for a kid my whole life if I never had one. But do actually like it? Good question.