For the keepers of the nests

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It’s one of those days. One of those weeks. Okay, fine, I’ll be honest; it’s one of those months, perhaps one of those years. It seems like one of those lifes. I became a mother in 1999. Last century. And let me assure you, I’ve lived every single one of those very long 5,738 days. I haven’t just lived those days, I’ve worked my tooshy off

for. every. single. one.

Lately, the thingee has been threatening to take me over. I am not sure what the thingee is. If I had to explain it I would say it’s kind of a mix of depression, resentment, worthlessness, and just an overall feeling of overwhelment. Some people may call the thingee mental-illness, but because I am fully medicated and know the difference between scary depression and the thingee I promise you the thingee doesn’t single out the mentally ill. The thingee is out to get all of us. Parenting is hard. The thingee is determined to make it harder. I’m pretty sure that the thingee’s only purpose for existence is to make us quit. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s always there whispering things like:

This is too hard.
You can’t do this anymore.
You’re screwing them up.
You can’t give them anything else.
It’s not wrong to just want some sleep.
You deserve to get away.
Run away as fast as you can.
Hurry, before they eat you alive.
Don’t get out of bed. Ever again. Until they are gone.
Even when they are 18, they are still going to need you.
What in the world did you get yourself into?
Kids suck.
They need you too much.
They don’t need you at all.

I don’t like living with the thingee. Over the years I have figured out a few tricks on getting rid of him. This post isn’t about those tricks. This post is about the miracles that happen when my own tricks don’t. Today I received a miracle. I was talking to my mom on the phone. She was just checking in. You know asking the typical mom stuff. “Do you have enough money, Alice? How are you feeling? Do you guys need anything?” Oh, honey, I know how exhausting it is. You really are such a good mother.

I explained to her my constant battle with wanting to leave the house and make some money. “It’s just so hard, mom. So many of my friends work. They get vacations. They get new clothes. They don’t have to worry.” She validated me. She said these words I will never forget..

“Alice, it’s not that you can’t work as a stay-home mom, it’s just that you get to do all the jobs that nobody else wants to do.”

We laughed. Cracked up. It takes a “stay-at-home” mom to know one. We’re the ones who get to:

run the girl scouts.
and the cub scouts.
clean the houses.
cook all the meals.
grade the homework for the single teacher with no kids who gets paid to do it but can’t find the time.
watch over the latchkey kids at the condo playground.
make the cookies.
shop for the groceries.
take the recycling in for the kids’ non-profit.
mend the clothes to make them last longer.
doctor the sick.
feed the families who are in need.
run the carpool.
take food to the starving kids at the track-meet. and a blanket.
run back to the school for the forgotten homework, or permission slip, or lunch….fill in the blank.
do the class parties.
always be in charge of the craft…those working moms just don’t have the time.
taxi the friends.

the list goes on and on and on and on…

We stay-home moms go without. again. and again. Because we are so present we are the ones acutely aware of everyone else’s needs, and we also know that our own needs can always wait another day. This is not to say you working moms don’t do enough. Heck, if anything you have way more on your plate.

The parts that maybe you don’t understand are the day in and out of never being thanked, always being undervalued, society as a whole thinking that you are just lazy and underachieving. You can’t possibly get the selflessness that is always undermined and the mental taxation of handing your life over to a bunch of small dictators that come to you with problem after problem to be solved and lost item after lost item to be found. Never getting a raise. Going without again and again. Feeling like you are actually losing brain cells.

Like Annie says, “It’s a hard knock life.” Why any of us choose to do what we do is beyond me. I ask myself that question every day. And when I ask myself that question the thingee strikes hardest. He’s so relentless.

So back to this morning. I was having a crappy “I don’t want to do this anymore” morning. The thingee had me in a tight embrace in my comfy bed. I had to sneak out of his Magic Mike arms and crawl to the kitchen to get the kids breakfast. My eleven-year-old had a hormonal break-down on the way to school, while the kindergartner was finishing her homework that we forgot to turn in last week in the back seat. The baby was poopy. The dog was happy in the car, but had whined locked up in the bathroom all night because she won’t quit peeing on the carpet. You see, the morning was rough. Like every other morning.

I was had it. I was trying all my tricks to fight off the thingee and then found myself with my mom on the phone getting a little validation. I felt a tad bit better. Especially as we laughed.

I looked out my back window. You won’t believe what was there. I didn’t.

Staring down at me was the greatest thingee warrior of all time. Right from the branch of the tree through the sliding glass door there she was….

A. big. fat. pregnanter than pregnant. robin.

This bird and I had a staring contest while my mom chattered away about the time she sold bread to have a little extra grocery money. I kept my eyes on the mama bird as I blinked the tears from my eyes. My mom retold the story about walking through a parking lot with my dad. He found a $100 bill. He looked up at my mom and said, “You’ve been praying again, haven’t you Sharon? I guess this is for you.” She bought groceries.

The bird was silent, but as she stared, I heard her, as clear as day….

“Alice, someone has to watch the nest.”

So, after escaping in the bathroom for the last twenty minutes to write this post, I’m off. (Even with the hemorrhoids only a mother who hides in the bathroom can know.) Dinner can’t wait and neither can my baby birds.

I am proud to announce that the thingee continues to lose after 15 years, 8 months, 20 days, 15 hours, 38 minutes, and 15 seconds. But who’s counting? I am, you idiots. Just because I’m watching the nest, it doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize about that vacation I aim to get in another 18 years.

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6 comments

  1. i know how you feel. I never realized how important my job as a stay at home mom was until I started working outside the home. I realized I did A LOT! I also realized I was able to because I was home. Working moms are amazing, and your right I do get praise at work, but I am ready to be a stay at home mom again. When that does happen I hope I can remember my importance and fight the thingee.

  2. PERFECT!! This is exactly how I have felt for the last 11,352 days. I needed this today! I love you friend! Thanks for saying just exactly how I feel!!!
    BTW- they will always, always need you and you will always be minding the best!

    1. Lori, I believe our love for each other is rooted in the fact that we are able to admit that we feel this way, but we keep on keeping on. You are how I want to be when I grow up….and I’m not too far behind in age. Ha!

  3. Miss Alice… I love this post! Second reading just now… I just shared it with my sister. You have a talent with words and describing life as it is…. In a way we all can relate to you. I have missed you… Thanks for taking the time to email me recently. Love, Sheila

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