Life somedays is hard. Actually, life for the past few years has been hard. An older friend, who I absolutely love and has been my parenting mentor for years, referred to these years as the ‘fog years’. These are the years when the kids are young and need you for everything. For parents who have chosen to stay home with the kids or work from home or work part-time like I do… these years are brutal.
I’m not making comparisons between working and stay-at-home parents but I must say this. I do get jealous when Matt gets dressed up and heads out the door for a full 8-10 hour work day. I am jealous that he is being creative, using his mind for things that don’t involve negotiating with a 4YO or practicing mindful patience at every moment with a tween, math homework or making sure the kids don’t get hit by a car, eat poison, fall down the stairs or stick their head in an oven to see if they fit.
I’ve been a bit sick the last few days and the option of stopping has not been there. So through the migraines and nausea and the utter exhaustion, and growing a baby, I have to navigate a loud house, feeding dragons, driving to cross country meets, math homework, and bedtime horror!
Am I enjoying my kids? Sure I am. I love them with every fiber of my being… but there are days… many days where I would trade them for a massage, hot bath or moment of silence. I know there will come a day when I will miss these crazy years but I really need to complain right now. I really need to wallow in my first world problems.
This stage I’m in – 2 kids – a preschooler and a tween – is a mentally, emotionally, physically and wild stage of life. There is never a moment that is dull, true. But there is never a moment where anything stops either.
Last night after a long exciting, fulfilling weekend the kids were finally in bed around 9 pm. I then had to tidy up the house – for no other reason but to get myself ready for the week ahead. If I woke up to an overly messy home It really messes with my already unorganized mind. So after straightening up the kitchen, dining room, playroom, living room, hallway, bathroom, and actually folding and putting away my clothes on my bed. I settled into about 2 hours of work. Bed by 1 am… good times.
But I can’t sleep because guilt takes over my thoughts. Was I mean to the kids today? Did I yell too much? Did I let them watch too much TV just so I could escape to the bathroom and hold my exhausted body and mind and cry for 20 minutes? Was I fair? The house is a mess. How is this messy home affecting my child’s focus every day? What’s for breakfast the next morning, That teacher email was kinda judgy… what did that mean? Did I spend enough one on one time with both kids? Thomas is easy to spend one on one time with because he cuddles up and kisses all day. Lily is a tween… I’ll leave it there. I have to constantly make an effort to spend meaningful time with her that goes beyond the mother/daughter parenting dynamic. The guilt of everyday things creeps up too. Should I go back to work fulltime? Am I working too much? Am I not doing enough to plan holiday events or summer family plans. The laundry has piled up again, the bedroom is messy again. Who’s paying attention to the dog? Am I reaching out to friends and family often enough?
My body isn’t my own these days either. Heck, my life isn’t my own. Who am I? My daily life most days solely consists of feeding the kids, making sure they are dressed, homework, dodging meltdowns, track, soccer, gymnastics, playdates, feeding, feeding, feeding, and bedtime madness. There is an overload of demands. My kids want something every single second of the day. I’m in negotiating mode from before sunrise to after sunset! They are always talking to me, touching me, needing something!
I have stopped volunteering for things. I am not the class parent, I’m not hosting book club next month, not having a holiday party, not helping at church, I am shutting it down for a bit so I can regroup and catch my breath and not feel so crazed.
Every night when it’s time for bed, it’s like a new concept for the kids. As if we haven’t done this bed thing every single day for their entire lives. Bedtime?! What?! NOOOOO?!
It’s the fog years, right? I am feeling really anxious about our third child. I’m stressing out about the toll this is going to take on me and how much I will change. I used to be this fun person with so much life to offer and these days I feel as if I am just trying to stay afloat in a rapid river that’s constantly trying to take me down. I have lost interest in small things like crafting, shopping or discovering new music. My sole goal these days seems to be entertaining and enriching the lives of these dragons. Even if I like something in a store, my immediate thought is… who is going to clean this?
I desperately just need one day of pampering. Just one day. Make me some food that I want to eat, a hot bath in a super clean shiny bathroom, I want to light a candle that smells like Anthropologie… I actually just want to move into Anthropologie. Have you ever seen a kid in there? No…never…it’s bliss.
I am thankful for my friends who are going through this with me. Because my misery loves company and that’s the truth! I’m not alone. This is not my sole plight. This is the plight of all parents who are the primary stay-at-homers. This is the daily struggle. The endless giving without getting anything back in return.
Matt makes dinner in the slow cooker a lot. He also does the laundry a lot. He also works a lot and travels. I’m not without a partner in parenting who is very involved. This is the life we choose and we love it and most days it’s pretty awesome.
But when it’s bad… it feels really bad. We are not alone parents… these fog years… they are just that!