The Grass is More Interesting on the Other Side

Sharing a Lens Cap

Am I happy being a work-at-home mom (the term I prefer to stay-at-home mom)? It is by far the most stressful job I’ve ever had and I do have a difficult time with the constant vigilance. There is no time that is my own anymore. Even when Siddhartha is napping, I have to drop what I’m doing on a moments notice when he wakes up.

It does seem to be easier as he gets older, but it is still exhausting to have to be constantly 100% aware. Sometimes I’d like to just zone out and think.

I got to thinking the other day when I saw two women enjoying dessert at a cafe. I felt a small twinge of jealousy before taking a trip back in time.

Before my son was born, I was bored. Sure I could meet a friend at a cafe and it was fun, but most of the time I didn’t do that. I still had days when I was too tired and too depressed to leave the house. In fact, it happened more then than it does now.

I remembered feeling that a lot of my actions were pointless. Now, everything has a purpose. The most insignificant things are exciting because Siddhartha has never experienced them before.

I remember the first time I brought him out in the rain. Imagine seeing and feeling rain for the first time! Water falling from the sky! I noticed the feeling of the drops on my skin because I knew he would feel them and wonder what that sensation was.

I’ve also started eating better because it’s easier to eat some of the food I’m making for him. His favorite foods right now are broccoli and spinach. As a result, I’ve discovered the taste of broccoli again. Not broccoli smothered in cheese, salt or butter. Just plain, lightly-steamed broccoli.

I do miss having time to write almost whenever I want. It’s hard to feel the desire and know that I can’t sate it at the moment. I feel a pang of loss whenever I hear friends have finished a story or submitted something to a contest or journal. I envision myself seeing a friend’s book in the window of a book store while I rush by chasing a toddler.

But again, there are a few things I have to remind myself: I am still writing (I wrote this!), I just have less time for it and am often interrupted. When I was writing full time, I was never actually writing full time. Sure, I had productive days, but I was rarely able to get myself to focus for hours at a time. I always mixed it up with housework, errands and wasting time online. And, of course, one day my son will grow up. The role of mom will still be a big one, but he won’t need me nearly every minute of the day like he does now.

Sometimes I do wish things were a little more balanced; that I could take a few hours for myself every day and know that when Siddhartha is a teenager he’ll still want to give me hugs and smile at me every few minutes. All I can do is try to keep my life as balanced as possible now and try to raise a happy kid who won’t be embarrassed about loving his mom, even when it’s not cool.

To answer my question, Generally yes, I am happy being a work-at-home mom, but I do wish that I could appreciate the grass on my side. I’m so focused on the things I want that I can’t have, that I forget what it is that I have.

I’m working on it, trying to follow my therapist’s advice to exercise mindfulness while I enjoy time with my son. But I also know that it’s unrealistic to expect myself to be happy all the time and cherish every moment. The challenge is to appreciate what I’ve got and be ok with myself when I feel frustrated.

How do you find time to do the things you love while raising kids? What are some ways you noticed your life improved after they came along?

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2 thoughts on “The Grass is More Interesting on the Other Side

  1. Funny that you bring this up. I have a job outside the home, and I resent the hell out of it. If I LIKED my job, perhaps it would be different. Sometimes I look longingly at those who can be with their children more often. On the flip side, I never intended to be at home full-time, and I have a feeling that would drive me bonkers. I just assumed I’d be teaching and able to do a significant amount of my work at home. And even THEN, looking at this assumption from my current perspective, I have to laugh at the notion that I thought I’d get SO MUCH done at home (I mean, I have to wonder if I would have been able to pull it off, considering how hard it is to get anything done with a crawler underfoot).

    Nevertheless, I’m learning what’s GOOD about my situation. My son gets to socialize with other children at his childcare provider’s house (he’s the only one she watches for money, but there are always her kids and their friends around the house). He LOVES IT, and he gets an experience few “onlies” get. I get to be “not-mom” for 50 hours/week, which is probably increasing my sanity and enabling me to enjoy every moment I do have with him. And he gets a lot of daddy time without me around, which I’m sure will be priceless in developing his relationship with his father.

    What I’ve taken away from our current situation is the ability to deal with the “big” stuff, enjoy the “little” stuff, and laugh at myself for assuming my obsessive planning will result in the ideal situation. What IS the ideal situation, anyway?

    And to answer your questions: I struggle to find time for the things I loved before having my son. My best solution right now is the Kindle app on my phone, which allows me to read one-handed in the dark (as in, while nursing a certain little boy to sleep) and to snatch a few minutes here and there to read without having to lug a book around to do it. We’re also really eager to see if we can garden with him, as he seems to dig the outdoors (when it’s actually warm enough to be there!). Hopefully, we’ll be able to let him crawl around the yard while we plant, then weed and harvest later this summer.

    My life has improved immeasurably, as I see my parenting as a front-row seat to someone else’s life drama. I’m not “walking into the middle of the movie,” so to speak; I’m even helping to direct some of it! And trading out that hobby (watching the best “movie” EVER) for the ones I had before has really improved my life for the better. I’m not suggesting it’s for everyone; this is one LONG movie. But for me, it’s been an amazing trip even thus far.

  2. Both Malini and I were talking about this. Just so that you know we feel exactly the same way – you’ve touched several bullet points.

    Really nice to read this!

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