Loving Life Despite Myself

Stephanie is a former behavioral health professional and college instructor who traded in the glitz and glamour of human services for stay-at-home motherhood. She is the proud and exhausted mother of a spirited 20-month old son, 6-month old twins, a husband with a rotating work schedule, and 3 cats. She can be found sharing her tales of woe at Momma Be Thy Name, and onTwitter @MommaBeThyName.

 

As I crawl on my hands and knees under the dining room table picking up what appears to be an entire ear of corn under my 18-month old son’s chair, I think to myself, “How did I get here?” I glance over and see my poor cat, Malcolm, neglected since the birth of my son, and all but forgotten since the birth of our twins five months ago, looking back desperately between his cat toy and me, as if to say, “Well, you’re already down here. Might as well play with me.” But I can’t. Not because I don’t want to. More because the twins are exhausted and screaming in the living room, in expired diapers and onesies encrusted in the afternoon’s spitup, and my son threw pasta at the wall.

Luckily, my husband handles the twins and their onesies while I tackle the bottles and remnants of dinner. These are our nights. These are our days. This is my life. I vaguely remember working. I vaguely remember running programs and teaching psychology at night. I vaguely remember adult conversations, dressing down on Fridays, potlucks, and Secret Santas. Now, I can’t even remember what time I last fed the twins.

It’s an effort, and that’s putting it kindly, to take a walk, go to the mailbox, basically to exist in any way that resembles my life before children. Am I complaining? Not sure. Do I hate it? Can’t say that I do. However, if you would have told me, say, five, ten years ago that I would get married, become pregnant immediately (and I mean immediately), stop working, have a son, then get pregnant four and a half months later – with twins – I would have laughed in your face. Hard. I would have laughed even harder if you told me I would enjoy it.

I watched my impressive collection of nail care products and makeup seize up and become unusable in the two years or so I was pregnant. I let my credentials to practice expire because a high-risk twin pregnancy kept me from attending the mandatory trainings. I mourned the loss of my career for the better part of a year and a half. Let me tell you, the arrival of twins when you already have a thirteen-month-old son will snap you right out of that.

I have never been so busy, or worked so hard in my 32 years. My skills and education fell by the wayside for the sake of becoming a stay-at-home-mom. And even though I hate it some days, and I mean really hate it, I’d hate more to have a nanny or a sitter see my babies smile, crawl, or speak for the first time, or be too tired or stressed out from work to see (or enjoy) it myself.

I spend my time talking about poop and puke, smiles and rolling over, and savor a measly fifteen minutes of silence at the end of the day before falling soundly asleep. I find joy in my son’s pronouncing, “Thank you,” correctly or seeing him comb his hair and brush his teeth. And in watching the time-hardened faces of my family soften at the sight of my babies.

My hatred for my situation and “lack of fulfillment” melted away when Matthew leaned over and kissed Michael and Maggie’s heads for the first time. I even surprised myself.

So it’s okay, I think. For now at least.