Being a mother is hard. Being a stay-at-home mother is hard. Even if you plan it, you have 40 weeks (give or take) to prepare for it, becoming a mother is a rapid blaze that quickly consumes every nook of your existence. Before you know it, the life you had no longer exists and you are hurled into a new being where you are nothing if not a mother. I can say I am a teacher, I can say I am a pianist, I can say I am a dancer, but these are all superceded by the overarching declaration: I am a mother.
I always knew that if it was at all possible, I would stay home to raise my kids while they were young. I was blessed with a mother who stayed home until I was 8. I have fond memories of being pulled in a wagon with my sisters to the library, of making cookies, of playing dress-up with the clothes in our tickle-trunk, and of playdates with other kids whose moms also stayed home. I wanted to give my kids everything I had as a child, and that included having a stay-at-home mother.
I did not realize how much that would mean for me. How much sacrifice that would entail. Before I was a mother, I used to think babies slept most of the time, that they kept themselves occupied fairly well in a playpen, that they went to sleep with a smile on their face. I would have plenty of time to keep up with my piano, I could do my masters by correspondance, we could take mini-vacations and leave the baby with grandparents. No problem.
Once I brought Sashimi home, I realized that form of parenting was not me. I breastfed, I was a baby-wearer, I never left him with anyone (other than Daddy, and only between feedings). I washed diapers, I played with him, I made home-videos with him, I packed him in my arms while making supper and folding laundry. We talked about going away for a few days once I was done nursing, but that day never came. He self-weaned at 14 months, but by then we were still co-sleeping nearly everynight and as much as he was attached to us, we were attached to him. Attachment parenting went both ways.
iBean is only 7 months old and still nursing. She requires assistance multiple times each night to go back to sleep, always needing her mother. The boys need us everynight to help them go pee and cuddle them back to sleep. Every night, we do the grand bed shuffle. Every morning, my husband and I wake up in separate beds. And right now, more than ever, I feel like we need to get away. We need to just be a couple again, not Mommy and Daddy.
And more than that, I need to feel like myself. Who is this woman who starts her day emptying the dishwasher, getting breakfast for the kids, yelling at the boys to stop fighting at the train table, not fixing her hair, not putting on makeup, cleaning up poop, pee, puke, and is in her pajamas by 6:30 every night? I don’t know. She somehow took over my body 5 years ago and pushed me out. Someday I will have the time and energy to kick her out and let myself back in. Now is not the time. Mommy still has to run the autopilot in my body just to survive the exhaustion of raising my kids, because I don’t think Sarah could handle it alone.