I have had a lot of time to think as of late. With a teething seven-month-old, I find myself up in the wee hours of the morning wondering about serious “world issues” like why on earth Osito (little bear) hasn’t slept through the night yet, drooling aside.
Last night I found myself thinking, in particular, about perspective. As Osito chomped happily on her teething ring, I mulled over a recent (and all-too-often) argument my rock star husband and I had over being tired. Or, I should say, about being overtired. The argument pretty much went (and always seems to go) like this.
RS (Rock Star): Are you okay?
DM (Dr. Mom): I’m tired.
RS: I know. Me too.
DM: Well, I’m EXHAUSTED (with pause for effect). It’s EX.HAUST.ING (drawing out every.single.syllable) doing this ALL BY MYSELF (cue background music, preferably the Celine Dion version).
The lamest part about this overplayed (and really one-sided) argument is not merely my flair for the dramatics, but that after turning who was more tired into a competition, I followed up my attempt at game, set, match with the snarky suggestion that I was more tired because I was going it alone. This unfortunate word choice, which I bring off the bench all-too-often because it gets the desired rise in temperature, minimizes just how much he does on a daily basis to make this house work. One glaring example being that he works 60+ hours a week outside the home, in addition to what he helps with in it, without complaint. (Hence the nickname: the rock star.)
Yes, there are days when I do far more than my husband around the house. But even on days when he is gone ALL DAY I still know that at some point he is coming home, if not to actually hold or feed or change a child because they are already asleep, at the very least to laugh with me about something awesome that happened or hold my hand while I cry. And let’s face it crying and sleep deprivation seem to go hand in hand around here. Or I know he will walk in the door soon with wine or another overlooked but much needed dinner item so that I don’t have to take two children who ALWAYS it seems need to be changed, fed, or held during the day (with no fault of their own I might add; they are two and under) to the store. On top of that, I do not even have to leave the house when worrying about major life issues like holding or feeding or changing two little ones because the rock star is out there making money so that I can work at home as a mom and Ph.D. candidate in training.
Does this mean I should never complain about the reality of parenthood and feeling exhausted and sometimes alone? Nope. I am mom. It can be a lonely, thankless, tough as nails job (worth it, of course). There’s nothing wrong with admitting that to me or the rock star but not always to anyone else who’ll listen. My apologies to the woman behind me yesterday in the checkout line.
What it does mean, I believe, is that perhaps amid the chaos that is life the best defense to not losing one’s cool and self altogether is to have a little perspective. This is where the smelling of the roses advice comes into play. It means amid the changing and feeding and bouncing on repeat that I need to stop and take a breath (heck, just bring the oxygen mask) and realize that, yes, parenting is exhausting and, at times, lonely but I am blessed to have a stunningly cool partner in crime to share the load. Even if not always physically there, knowing he can be often keeps me from diving head first into insanity. I imagine so it goes for all people, parents or not. We need each other. We need support. And the reality is that community is all around us, within or outside of the home, in a variety of forms. It is waiting to be had. Wanting to be asked. Willing to hold our hand or high five it. We just need to recognize it, to appreciate it, and to cut it, like ourselves, a little slack when it doesn’t meet our expectations. Most of all, we need to hold on to the knowledge that it is there when we feel most alone, like in the wee hours of the morning when perhaps we’re up bouncing babies praying for sunlight.