“This is not what I went to school for.”
Some days I mutter this to myself a lot.
I say it when I’m standing in front of the sink, washing the thirteen thousandth sippy cup of the day.
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I say it when I’m on my hands and knees trying to pick bits of Goldfish cracker out of the living room carpet.
I say it when my toddler has a full-on meltdown because I won’t let him put his finger in the electrical socket.
And even if I don’t say it out loud, some days, all I can think is this:
I am a stay-at-home mom and I am completely and totally unfulfilled.
The thing is, small children crave consistency and structure in their lives, which, last I checked, was the antidote to excitement and adventure. Routine is in, spontaneity is out. Every day as a stay-at-home-mom looks more or less the same for me. The work is tedious, the hours are exhausting, and the pay is non-existent.
Raising children requires massive amounts of mental energy, yet provides very little amount of mental stimulation. The stakes have never been higher, yet the return can seem negligible at times. It is simultaneously the most busy I have ever been in my life and the most mind-numbingly bored. The most gratified and the most unfulfilled.
Did I choose this? Absolutely. And most days, I feel so grateful and privileged to be able to stay home. To be able to shape my children so directly and to play such an active and hands-on role in their growth and development. To be able to watch them learn and interact with their environment and to be there to marvel at every milestone reached.
But while I know that it’s an accomplishment in and of itself to raise productive, conscientious, contributing members of society, some days . . . it’s just not enough.
Some days I need the validation that I’M one, too.
Some days, I need to know that the very expensive degree I went to school and worked my butt off for is being put to good use.
Some days, I need meaningful conversation, intellectual stimulation, and emotional engagement.
Some days, I need to learn something or challenge myself to try something new or practice something I’m good at.
Some days, I need the satisfaction of having my skills and abilities fully employed. Outside of my outstanding diaper-changing and boogey-wiping skills, that is.
As a stay-at-home mom, my heart is always full, but some days, my mind feels completely empty.
I look at other women in my peer group who are full steam ahead on their respective career trains and I swear I can almost see my brain developing cobwebs, my potential going untapped, my talents drying up. I sit in the sandbox in our backyard with my toddler and watch him pick up handfuls and let them slide through his fingers, over and over and over again. It’s like I’m watching my very own hourglass of personal fulfillment, slowly emptying.
So yes, on most days, I love this job of mine.
I collapse into bed utterly spent, but I count my lucky stars to live the life I do. I know this is my calling, this is what I’m meant for, and this is the phase of life I’m supposed to be in. As much as I’m afraid of it slipping away like sand, there WILL be enough time for me to be fulfilled in other ways.
There WILL be enough time to be the woman, scholar, worker, writer, creator that I want to be . . . and there’s so little time to be the mom they need me to be. On most days, simply being their mom is enough.
But on some days, if I’m really and truly honest with myself, I suck the snot out of my kid’s nose through a filtered tube and I mutter to myself, “This is not what I went to school for.”