I must confess something. I must confess that there are many days when I don't want to be a stay-at-home-mommy. There are many moments sprinkled throughout most of my days where I regret not being a working mom, or a graduate student, or just SOMETHING that would get me out of the house and away from my kids. It happens more often than I care to think about as it happens a lot.
In the mornings, when I first wake up, and there are three chattering voices demanding, asking, telling me something, I wish I could put on a nice suit and say, "Sorry. Mommy's got to go to work. Figure it out." My current method of saying, "Uh - Mommy's got to go to the bathroom. Figure it out," only means that the three chattering clamoring voices follow me into the bathroom where I attempt to block all the noise. I'd like to go to the bathroom alone, in an office bathroom ensuring some level of privacy and silence.
When I sit down to lunch, with all three children in front of me, and I get up 30 times in a single meal to refill water, get a clean fork, get a napkin, wipe up a spill, flip a frying egg, or answer the door, I long for a lunch that I sit at, alone, in my office cubicle where the only demand on my attention would be adults asking me for help, or an email that needs to be thought about and responded to. None of these things would require that I get up in the middle of the meal.
In the afternoon, when I get my Tiger Mom groove on, and begin the demands of homework, piano practice, math drills, extra writing, and reading, I wish that I had time to focus on expanding my own mind, reading something that doesn't have cartoon characters or garish drawings in them, or a chance to think and ponder harder questions beyond "What's 11+32."
And there are days, like today, after I tuck the kids into bed and they crawl out of bed again to ask for water, or to complain about something, that I think I'd like to be in my own hotel room, on a business trip, able to flip through the channels on the TV and lie down in my pj's and not have to deal with a bedtime routine.
There are moments in every single day, when I wonder, if I was truly designed to be a stay at home mom. I sometimes wonder if my patience is enough, if my tolerance is enough, if my focus is enough to do this job well. If I'm staying at home with them, it's because I do believe that I can do more for them while with them, than I can while being away from them. But what if in actuality, I'm not really good at it? What if I am actually doing a really bad job?
I see often my own shortcomings as a mother. I see my friends who are working moms who seem to do it better. I read books like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, where Amy Chua describes her efforts for her own two kids as a working Yale professor of law. She does the entire Tiger Mom routine while working and I can't do it while staying at home? There are these days when I am beat down and discouraged and convinced that I am not doing what I should be doing.
Thankfully these are only moments in long days. The days as a SAHM mom are really really long. And in those long days, if I have a few of these moments, I try to reassure myself that it is fairly normal. If in those days, there are moments when I don't want to do this job anymore, I tell myself that women who work in an office or have a career must have those same moments of despising the work that is in front of them. Even as a teacher, a career I loved before children, anytime grading a massive pile of essays came, I looked at that stack of papers and inwardly hated my job. I am hopeful that these drops of exhaustion and exasperation with the job are part of the landscape with any work that a person does for a long time.
And then there are the really bright moments that shine and ALMOST make all the hard moments worth it. I get to cook lunches for my kids. I love that. I love that they eat a hot meal with me at home and I can prepare something delicious and fresh for them on many days. Such was this occasion for this Greek Crostini, when I had Daughter #2's friend over for a playdate, and I hung out with the other mom. I made these, served them to the girls and they were really just gobbled down. Seeing that, with two little girls just noshing and munching down on this new invention of mine made me have one of those moments where I got to think, being at home is really really wonderful.
4 to 6 servings
1 loaf crusty bread like pugliese, sliced ½ inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry or other flavorful tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Arrange the sliced bread on a baking sheet. Brush with some of the olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top each slice of bread with a few cherry tomato halves, a sprinkling of feta, and two olive halves.
Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are warmed, about 5 minutes.
Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Season with pepper. (I didn’t need additional salt as the feta and olives are quite salty on their own.)
A book that inspires me, but simultaneously makes me feel horribly inadequate.