I’m writing with a fever and runny nose. I got it from my son Noah, who’s less than a month away from turning 2 years old. This is him being cool while pretend-listening to nothing:
He’s so cool that he’s over his cold in less than 24 hours, and bouncing off the walls like yesterday, while I’m wearing three layers of clothes and feeling chilly. I feel like shit and of course I wouldn’t have it any other way as long as Noah’s better, even if it meant my not sleeping last night taking care of him.
My husband Davy can see how shitty I’m feeling this morning and so he took care of breakfast and cleaned our kitchen and basically played handyman all morning. I’m glad he’s doing this, but I still feel like shit. But I always have this nagging feeling that I’m not allowed to just feel like shit anymore…
The thing is, I’ve actually stopped counting how many times I’ve felt like shit in the last two years because there’s too much other stuff to keep track of anyway. I used get myself manicures and pedicures on the regular too, and then eventually just did them myself, and now I’m lucky to get in some time to shave myself hairless around my vagina most days. I’m sure Davy feels luckier on those days too. Time to myself is a luxury. All moms feel similarly at some point if they’re doing it right.
The fact that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom makes me neither more susceptible nor immune to catching my child’s cold or stomach virus or conjunctivitis, than it does a stay-at-home working mom or working-outside-the-home mom or single-working-mom or any other existing hyphenated variation-of-a-mom. Some moms couldn’t imagine staying at home and would rather work because it’s where they thrive and what works for their life. Some moms couldn’t imagine leaving their children and going to work and so they stay home and thrive. And so on and so forth, with days we all want to drop everything and just cry too. All moms feel this way some days, some just more than others.
It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. But all too often it does. Real Housewives of Fake Lives is for entertainment purposes only…
When I was little I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up, because it’s what my mother was for so long. When I was older and single I still wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up, because on the one hand I had a lot of growing up to do – I knew it would mean I’d snagged a guy rich enough to keep me home – and also because I thought it would make me an actual grown-up. I learned a lot of hard lessons in my life and about my life, and so I’d always been wiser and more calculating than my actual years, but being an old soul in youth can be lonely and I say all this in plain English because it’s the easiest language for me.
I’m not saying I was some gold-digging-trophy-wife-in-training. In fact, I mean the opposite. Because I always made my own money, and sometimes more than many boyfriends in my life, I started to believe that being a stay-at-home mom meant more than just raising my child by my hand 24 hours a day. It started to mean that I’d be financially dependent on a man for whatever number of years I devoted my life to being a wife and mother.
The first year of Noah’s life, I continued to work from home as a freelance writer. I blogged about reality television and then wrote for a period of time for an interior decorating website. I held on to my need to make money and contribute. Around the time Noah turned one, I was no longer working from home for anyone, and instead I blogged here on my site and wrote furiously towards a goal of finishing my first book.
In two months’ time I’ll be going from being a stay-at-home-mom to a working-outside-the-home-mom, but I’ll still be my own boss. I’m hoping the transition will be smooth, and smoothest most of all for my little Noah. I’ve literally been learning and stumbling along the way up until this point using what my mother instilled in me maternally.
Belgian school systems accept children at the age of two-and-a-half, as the norm, and so at the end of this year Noah will be in pre-school. I’ve felt like my face was plastered on the Facebook walls of Ghent, as the stay-at-home mom that everyone was waiting to see what she’d be doing “once Noah’s in school.” Even stripped of any geography, I’ve been told on social media and even here on my site, that my staying at home was everyone else’s business but mine.
“Are you going to be a stay-at-home-mom forever?”
It’s so fucked up all the pressures moms put up with, as if there’s one right way to be a mom. There’s no such thing! Every mother is different and sacrifices things big and small in her own way! We can swap out mom for dad in this blog too, if it applies to you. But men aren’t choked invisibly for staying at home or not staying at home with their children for the sake of making money.
Now that I’m preparing to leave these stay-at-home mom days behind to flex my entrepreneurial wings, I can write this. Because I never knew what it was like to be a mom. If Rice House had never happened I’d still be staying at home and writing. I’m still writing now and will continue to do so, for those who have asked…
I’ve been through so many big changes in my lifetime that I should look older really, but I have my mother’s genes and so I look much younger than my age. I’ll turn 39 this year. That means next year I’ll be 40.
Motherfucking 40 is around the corner and I’m trying to round that bend as slowly as I can. But there are no brakes in real life. When big changes happen you have to focus on doing the small things that you usually do every day, so you don’t get lost in all the changes. For me those things are writing and cooking and having sex with my husband and pretending to do whatever it is in Noah’s imaginary world, as much as I can.
Small things add up to big things, and not the other way around.
I just want to be able to feel like shit without feeling guilty!