I don’t know whether or not being a stay-at-home parent is the hardest job in the world. I haven’t had every other job in the world. I have had my fair share of jobs. Jobs that I was fairly successful in. Jobs that I was pretty confident in. I know that, in comparison to those jobs, this one is definitely the hardest. Definitely.
Staying at home with my kids is undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It is also the most thankless, frustrating, lonely, isolating, and lowest paying thing I have ever done. And I know that I just made being a SAHM sound like the worst thing that anyone could ever do. And it isn’t. But it is, to me, definitely all of those things. But, obviously, that’s just the stuff that makes me want to stick my head in the oven.
Having a toddler is like trying to ride across country on a stationary bike.
I wake up, change her, feed her, play with her, clean up after her, try and deal with 17 tantrums before lunch, feed her again…you know…lather, rinse, repeat. But no matter how much I clean up, she is one step ahead. Destroying some other part of the house. And all that food I just swept up from under the high chair? I think someone just retrieved it from the garbage and placed it right back where it just was. And there is screaming about nap time. And the Today Show. And tooth brushing. And rain. And a closed door. (Like, if there is a closed door ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, my daughter knows about it and she HATES it. Which reminds me of this giant, orange cat I used to have.) I, now, fully understand these “Terrible Twos” I have been hearing so much about. And I hate them. (And then people tell me that THREE is worse. Which is SO AWESOME, because by the time I have a three-year-old, I will also have another two-year-old. I really screwed myself here, didn’t I?)
But this whole merry-go-round of crazy is sort of what I expected to happen with her. I mean, I have met toddlers before. I know they can be pint-size jerk-faces with wicked tempers and strong little wills. I knew that. What I wasn’t expecting, and what I couldn’t have expected not knowing exactly everything about everything, was how hard it was going to be to do all of this toddler stuff, while somehow also managing to keep a very large infant alive. You know, and sometimes even HAPPY.
What I’m saying is that I do all of that toddler stuff. And sometimes I do it while carrying a 25 lb infant. And sometimes there are two VERY unhappy kids in my house, both screaming for me at the same time. One is screaming because “OH MY GOD, THE TODAY SHOW!” and the other is screaming because “OH MY GOD, THAT OTHER SHORT PERSON IS HARSHING MY MELLOW*!” And then I want to cry. I try to hide in the bathroom for sixteen seconds but as soon as the door closes, almost to the point of the click of the knob, there is more screaming. Then more screaming from the other one. I have been discovered trying to sneak away. A door has almost completely closed. GASP!
There are still infinite bottles to wash and fill and feed to the baby. And there are infinite Cheerios and there are infinite tantrums and faces full of spaghetti sauce and diaper changes and nap-time battles and night wakings and sometimes, Mommy just straight LOSES HER SHIT. And sometimes I just wish that I could have A WHOLE DAY wherein no one spoke to me. No one asked me for anything. No one bothered me at all. I would sit by a pool with a book and a cocktail. And I would remember what those days were like when I didn’t have someone attached to me every second of every day.
And then I know I would miss all of this stuff. Because the babies laughing, you guys? The best sound in the world. And I’ve never had a job that paid in baby laughs. (I am not sure I would have accepted that job, though? I mean…that’s a confusing thing to think about. Because I really also like to get paid with money.) And okay, maybe I wouldn’t miss diaper changing. And temper tantrums. But I would TOTALLY miss playing and giggling and hugs and kisses and all the twirling I get to do with my little lady.
But seriously, you guys…hardest job I’ve ever had. And the noisiest. Holy shitballs. The noise.
*Seriously, if you know which movie this is from, you’re as sad as I am for quoting it. Yep. I said it.
**I just read this post by AM and this is absolutely not a rebuttal. I laughed my face off when I read her post because I was halfway through this one and thinking, “Dammit. What am I doing WRONG?! And I wonder if she would come over and show me how to work it! Ooooh! And maybe she’d bring booze!”