When I abruptly entered the world of the SAHM/WAHM mom on September 21st, 2009 with a pedicure and a distinct “pop,” some 3 weeks before Joey’s due date (NOT THAT IT’S A RACE, CURRENT RESIDENT. AHEM.), I thought I knew what was in store for me. Leisurely mornings napping on a sun-dappled bedspread with my precious baby curled up under my arm, effortless Skype meetings with co-workers (at the time I was working as a writer and admin for FOCUS), and trips to Starbucks “for a nice change of scenery” when I felt the itch to leave my little nest.
What I did not expect to face down day after day was the boredom, the strange inertia of being just a little out of step with the rest of the adult world, and more than anything, the lonely quiet of long, isolated days without any meaningful adult interaction between the hours of 9-5.
I hadn’t been in the workforce for all that long, but between college and grad school and a couple professional jobs, I had at least 10 years of semi-regular daytime routine programmed into my brain, so the abrupt end and the sudden rebirth as mommy plus one was … jolting.
And this with a super supportive husband and a beautiful city to call my own. I can’t imagine how much rougher a ride it might have been under less idyllic circumstances.
Though I’m now very much past the tedious hours of silence while my solitary bebe napped and I … I’m not sure what I did with all that extra time, I’m now immersed in a very different kind of home life. Now there are 3 little people with distinct patterns and personalities to fill up the space between our 4 walls, and while I do still occasionally (and unbelievably) suffer actual bouts of boredom because there are only so many times you rearrange your living room using the same materials before you start to feel psychic angst, most of what is challenging about this season of motherhood to many preschoolers is the exhaustive over-and-over again of our days. The snacks. The laundry (and I like laundry!). The bathroom crime scenes. The tantrums. The story times. The snuggles.
It’s a beautiful little life, but it’s exactly that: little. We do little things, over and over again, day in and day out, and I know that this is the stuff character is made of and that these are the sweet, fleeting years, but there are so many days that feel like a groundhog is writing the script. And when we do deviate from the norm, when I go into the office for my weekly meeting with my team and when the babysitter comes over for a couple hours, we actually all miss each other. Which is both gratifying and strange.
Don’t get me wrong, I love having breaks from the norm, but I’m way more able to handle the rigors of daily living with little people now that I’ve trained for a couple years. I think that’s what makes having your first baby so incredibly difficult compared to all that comes after. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, but it was for me.
I used to absolutely have to leave the house every day or else I’d feel like a caged animal. I still like to get out quite a bit, but some days that honestly entails nothing more than the park down the street, and I’m oddly fine with that. Other days I definitely still run the crew from Costco to the chiro to the grocery store to the insert-random-afternoon-burning-task-here, but my default setting is no longer “escape.”
And this might just be the giant end of pregnancy talking, but I don’t mind. I don’t mind that I’m a mom who stays at home and that most days we do, in fact, stay at home. We’re fine here. We’ve got snacks and plenty of books and a fenced backyard, and perhaps most key, a full complement of playmates should anyone get board with me. Which I think is the real best-kept secret to having more than a couple of kids. Yes, they’re more work, but only on a meta level. On a micro level there’s actually less work when they’re all 3 busily destroying some room in the house and I’m, oh, I don’t know, tapping away like right now. Or pretending to sleep.