The following series of questions has come up so often in small talk conversation during my few short years as a stay at home mom that I could honestly set my watch by it in most circumstances.
“What are you doing now? Are you still (pause) at home? Do you like it?”
For starters, it’s just a ridiculous question and I absolutely hate answering it.
“Do you like it?”
I consider several responses quietly in my head.
“I like it like I like a banana. A 1-2 day window of perfectness in a week long period. Not too hard, not too mushy, and with no surprise brown spots in the middle to completely piss me off and ruin my perfect moment.”
Yeah, metaphors probably wouldn’t be well received and/or understood, especially when they are stupid. Moving on.
“I like it sometimes.” Well there’s a simple answer and one that will without question imply that I am miserable and actually do not like it, at all, not even a little bit, and that is just not true, at all.
“It is what it is.” Oh boy, that leaves something to the imagination, doesn’t it? This implies that I am a pathetic “fill in the blank” person who can’t even answer a simple damn question and would rather let someone else figure out how I actually feel about it.
Here’s one, “Nope, not at all. I can’t stand my kids!” What can I say, sometimes I just like to fuck with people.
How about, “I absolutely love every waking moment of it!” Well, this would just be a blatant cry for help and certainly infer that I am in dire need of a weekend stay in Crazy Town. Been there, done that. It’s overrated. Sigh.
I guess I could take the honesty approach and admit that I have absolutely no idea how I feel about it on any given day. Not because I don’t love my kids. Do not even go there.
Before they were born, I didn’t really care much about anything. I mean really care. I was responsible for no one but myself, which at times was more than enough. Selfish as it may sound, I kind of miss being, well, selfish. Sure I had worries, but they were simple, insignificant, meaningless worries, like how to deal with a bad haircut.
The truth is, the moment I had children, my whole world crumbled around me. I honestly wasn’t prepared for it. My outlook on life was completely destroyed from the moment I peed on that stick for the very first time (Save the eye roll, I was 29, happily married, and it was planned.).
Immediately thereafter, it started. The thinking…and thinking…and thinking…and thinking. Suddenly everything I did actually meant something. But what? It was too much for my simple mind to comprehend. My inability to make sense out of this day to day thing we call life and parenting and what it all means in the big picture is/was all consuming..
Thus, more thinking. Not scholarly, “How to apply the pythagorean theorem to everyday life,” thinking, but random off the wall thoughts and questions that have no real answers regardless of the angle you take. There is no making sense of the nonsensical, no matter how hard you try, trust me.
“What is my purpose? Is there a purpose for any of us or are we all (as science has proven in the physical sense), truly just a bunch of random and insignificant molecules bouncing off one another for a brief moment in time waiting to be replaced by another bundle of molecules until inevitably in 5 billion years (give or take), the sun will burn up and suck the earth into a black hole and obliterate, well, everything. Except heaven of course. That will still be here/there/somewhere, right?
A bad haircut sounds really nice right about now.
To be painfully honest, motherhood has transformed me in ways that I would never have imagined pre-children. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows either, at least not for me. It’s an all consuming blanket of worry, fear, doubt, and hope that what I am doing on a day to day basis (simple and robotic as it may seem sometimes) has purpose, means something, and will inevitably contribute to the bigger picture (whatever that is) in a meaningful way.
Before I had kids, things were simple. I didn’t think much about the future and I certainly didn’t put any pressure on myself to make a difference. It was nice, quiet, peaceful, but more than anything, extremely ignorant. Ignorance can be a gift. What I wouldn’t give for just a moment to not obsessively ponder the reason the universe gave me children with nothing more than the following inferred instructions…
“Here, have some kids. Please understand that in doing so, you are in control of their happiness, safety, basic survival, and ability to one day successfully contribute to the bigger picture. You are ultimately responsible should they fail at any/all of the above mentioned life goals. Do not screw it up. For real. But have fun with it nonetheless, because you know, life is short.”
To quote a handful of great historical figures, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
To have power, you must also have control. Control is an illusion. As a parent, this terrifies me to my inner core.
This is what motherhood has done to me.
Do I like it?
It is what it is.