My day began at 7:17am. For the next 12 hours, I was solely in charge of two toddlers. We chased each other around the kitchen island, made artistic drawings that (I feel) could hang in any modern museum, caught up on our favorite shows, built sand castles using kinetic sand, took great naps, and shared our feelings on Jesus's birthday cake (still hanging around), clean floors (too slippery), and bedtime stories (Mama Bear's lumpy bed is funny).
It was a great day. It's almost always a great day. But with every day comes those little not-so-great moments that add up...
The kinetic sand made a huge mess under the dining table... three different times. The chases inevitably led to tears. The ink from the artwork ended up all over our clothes and hands (regardless of what the box said, it was NOT washable). Nothing big. But I feel like there's a savings account for parents and every time something like this happens, a small deposit is made into that account. By the end of every day, you're a millionaire. Even when each new day starts at zero.
Every time I had a negative thought, I quickly reminded myself that a) this was my dream job and b) I was so lucky. I shouldn't complain and how dare I grumble about cleaning up the 47th mess when the kids had so much fun? I either pushed my feelings aside or chastised myself for even having them.
I'm no psychologist, but Itook a year of psychology in high school and I think that's called repression. And I'm pretty sure I remember it being a bad thing.
Staying home with my kids is my dream job. And I am so lucky. But there are plenty who have dream jobs outside the home. They also have bad moments when their employees don't listen or when they have a big "mess" to clean up. But when they get frustrated they don't immediately feel guilty. Why is it different here?
I've found the same is true when my kids get sick. Our first response is, "It's only a cold, we should be grateful." Or "So many kids have far worse things to deal with, this is nothing." And both of those statements are probably true. However, just because someone has it worse than you (and trust me, someone will always have it worse), it doesn't mean you're not allowed to take a minute and realize right now... this very moment... it's just not a good time.
We need that minute. That little bit of time where you hide in your closet and cry (or do it in front of your kids - no hiding necessary). A minute of having a tough time and not immediately feeling guilty for it.
I think we need to allow ourselves to feel the bad and the ugly. Even if whatever it is we're feeling may seem small and insignificant compared to what a friend is going through. To stop comparing our sad moments to others and just realize that yeah, this is sad. This is frustrating. This is hard.
The next time I start feeling that tightness in my chest because it's been 12 hours alone with my kids and my daughter starts every single statement or question with, "Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama...." I'm going to the bank and cashing out. For one minute I'm going to allow myself to wish for bedtime to come quickly and I'm not going to punish myself for it. Because if I let myself have that moment, I will be better off for it. The weight on my shoulders will be a little less than it was before.
My love for my kids, however, will not.