Sunday, August 21, 2011
More Than . . .
One morning last year, I sat my youngest child on the counter so he could watch me make his egg. He said, "Mommy, I wish you weren't already married to Daddy, because I want to marry you." I said, "Oh, trust me. As much as you love me, you'll love your wife someday even more."
I hated admitting that to him.
He gave me a hug and said, "I'm in love with you."
Of course, five minutes later he was in love with his shirt, his shoes, Curious George, his scooter . . . whatever could hold his attention. But if I rank up there with a monkey and his favorite mode of transportation, I'd say I'm doing okay.
He just headed outside with his helmet so he can ride his bike around our driveway for a few minutes before I call him in for bed. He's singing and making up the lyrics as he goes along, standing up on the pedals to show off to his sister, and then swinging his bike around in the other direction for a new set of lyrics. And I have to say I'm in love with him, too--in love with all of my kids--even more than monkeys, scooters, applesauce, and diet wild cherry pepsi.
That's always been a common game my children and I have played when they're still young enough to gush over me: "I love you more than . . ." And "anything" is always the shortest and most honest answer, but it's cheating as far as the kids are concerned. According to their rule book, you have to really think about what you'd be willing to do without if you had to choose between them and the next best thing.
I don't feel I gave up anything when I chose to be here at home with them. It was the right choice for my husband and me, and I'm grateful it was a choice I actually got to make--that circumstances haven't dictated my decisions in this regard.
Yet recently I've been thinking a lot about the role of a SAHM in 2011. We have it easy in so many ways. Come on. Admit it. Don't give me, "Yeah, but mothers 50 years ago didn't have to worry about the X, Y, or Z." At the very least, we have it easy as far as the actual work required of us is concerned. I don't know about you, but I don't have to wash my clothes by hand. I don't have to beat my rugs outside. I don't have to scrub my dishes in a dry sink with water I hauled up from the creek and then have to take outside to empty when I'm done. I don't have to grind the wheat for my bread, bake the bread, pick the beans, dry the beans, cook the beans, slaughter the pig, and hang it to cure in the smokehouse. I don't have to sheer the sheep, dye the wool, spin the wool, and make my own clothing. And all of that before breakfast.
What I do have to do is figure out how to let my kids head out their own without circling above and over and around them. I have to figure out what "stay at home" means when I've had the luxury of defining "home" as the place I get to be with my children. I have to figure out how to give them--my kids--up to the big scary world because I love them. I have to figure out how to make my life as meaningful from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. as it is from 3:31 p.m. to 7:59 a.m. I have to decide how much of what I do is about making our home into a home and how much is about making myself into someone they can call "home" just as I call them "home."
I'm in love with them all. I love them more than anything, even myself. That's the easy part. The challenge is making the "even myself" mean something.