It is currently 10 AM. I am sitting on my back porch watching my 2 1/2 year old paint a birdhouse that my grandmother gave her. She is in her pajamas. I am in sweatpants, one of my husbands t- shirts, bra-less with my glasses on and a cup of coffee. I would say in this moment I am enjoying some of the perks of being a stay at home Mom. For me the transition from being a full time student and then working into being a full-time Mom was not easy. I think one of the hardest adjustments for me when I decided to become a stay at home Mom was the "never endingness" of it. 24 hours a day; 7 days a week- I am pretty much found doing almost the same thing at any given time. My life consists mostly of: finding fun ways to entertain my kids, cooking, cleaning and laundry. I dislike 2 out of 4 of those things pretty passionately but am TRYING to learn to find joy even in the things I cannot stand (cleaning and laundry). Playing make believe with a 2 1/2 year old? Done. I love it. I have always been a kid at heart. Cooking? I actually really enjoy it. The dishes afterwards? Hate it with a fiery passion. My day is really a fine balance between tasks I love and tasks I find trouble convincing myself to do- because the tasks on my list are constant. There is ALWAYS something to clean, clothes to wash and kids to entertain. Always. When all of my laundry is 100% caught up (an occasion that happens as often as sighting Big foot) I seriously consider becoming nudists so for a day, A HOUR even, there is no laundry to be done or put away. I think the never endingness (I know it is not a word but should be) of keeping a house afloat is something I really struggled with in the beginning and still have days I struggle with it. I think it is because I have never get that sense of "Task complete; check it off the list" because once it is complete it isn't long before I have to do it again. And again. And again, because apparently my high maintenance family just loooooveeesss to eat three times a day and wear clothes.
I miss the days when I was a therapist and I would see a client; finish the notes and there was a completion and an end. I think being a Mom/parent in general- working, staying at home, whatever- it can be difficult because we are putting so much of ourselves, our time, our energy, our thoughts, our love, our souls- into little people. Little people who we pray with everything in us that we will never see their endings; the completion of our lives work. We want to see the milestones- the graduations, the marriages, the successes, the grandkids- but we don't want to be around for their final acts. For as long as I can remember whenever I thought about what I wanted to be when I was an adult I always came back to the core of what I wanted in my heart- I wanted to help people. I wanted to help people in difficult times, I wanted to be their guide, show them compassion and caring in times where they didn't have it. In school I thought about how I could do this on a bigger scale- help tons of people. Make it my life's work- open transitional living communities for the homeless, soup kitchens, charities- but I found the most impact I made was individually with people. Meeting them and seeing them for who they were with no judgement- only love and getting into whatever scary, depressing, anxious or overwhelming place they were in and helping them find their own way out. I found immense joy in that process and with the people I spoke with. I broke all the "rules" we learned in school and hugged my crying clients and cried with them. And I saw change! I saw little flecks of change and it was wonderful and beautiful. What i finally come to realize is that I can experience those same victories- but with my kids and in my life. Instead of viewing everyday as a mounting list of mundane tasks I need to complete- I want to be more present for them. Sure- it is a little different helping a 2 1/2 year old through a tantrum over peeling a banana the wrong way- versus a grown adult with depression- but in the grand scheme of things how different is it really? My daughter is authentically and genuinely upset over the things that are small in my mind- but in the mind of a child these seemingly small things to me are not small at all. She is learning how this world is working- she truly feels frustrated when she can't say the things her mind is thinking clearly enough so I can understand her- when she sees my holding her brother and I cannot tend to her needs she really feels isolated. She feels all of our big people emotions and does not have the tools to handle them. That would be unbelievably difficult to experience. Most of my clients I saw were grown adults and that was their core issue- they didn't have the tools to combat the obstacles that plagued them.
Coming to the realization that although my days look different (I never saw clients in sweatpants with no bra) at the core I am really doing the same work. I am helping little humans become good people. I am with them in their hardest times and in their best times. I am their constant- their guide and my life is dedicated to them. As a therapist I always had trouble with my self care- I always put it last, and I have learned as a Mom that is not an option. I have to have my moments to myself, to work out- to be around adults- or I run really low on patience and love to give my kids. Especially with what is going on in the world right now, all of the hate, tension and divide- I think raising good people is something that should be at the top of the list, and I need to be in a good state myself to raise good people. All of us as parents need to do everything we can to raise good people. The world needs more kind and loving souls. Although sometimes I can get distracted with the laundry, the dishes- the stuff that doesn't really matter- it is important we all remind ourselves that we are all in this thing together and it is bigger than our small worlds we spend all of our energy on. Wherever you live, whatever political views you have- we are all here connected by our humanity on this earth and we have the choice to positively or negatively effect this existence. No matter how we choose, whatever career or way we spend our time- we can all make a positive change. Sometimes I lose sight of that because I am too stressed over the pile of dishes from last nights dinner. Finding meaningful propose while drowning in the mundane can feel impossible at times, but what I do is meaningful beyond measure.
Whatever you do is meaningful. Whether you are a doctor making people well or a teacher molding our kids- what you are doing is meaningful. As for me... you can find me in the trenches- in my sweatpants with a cold cup of coffee in hand and spit up or poop in my messy hair- doing the best I can to guide my little humans through this world so eventually they will grow up and be kind, caring and positive additions to this life we all share.