Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Point, Please
I wanted to cry all day today. But, the tears just wouldn't come. After waking up my sluggish 5-year-old, I fought with him for over an hour about everything, essentially making me a drill sergeant, thus launching my sour mood and feelings of utter failure as a mother. I walked around with this heaviness all day, questioning myself and my choice to stay home with my children.
As I've stated before, I get no greater delight than that which comes from the laughter of my young ones. I'm every day aware that this time, while occasionally challenging, is all too fleeting. Still, there are days when the prevailing question is "Why do I bother?"
I should mention that some of my feelings are left over from last night's dinner, which I loved, but J.T. hated (which he announced before even taking a bite). That caused another argument, only exacerbated when Dan came home and decided to eat cereal instead of the dinner I had slaved over for an hour with him in mind.
Since Dan has been working in San Antonio, his commutes require him to leave by 4:30 a.m., and he sometimes doesn't return home until after the boys are in bed. Over time, this has worn on both of us, and I'm afraid my nerves are a bit exposed.
So, persisted the question. Why do I bother? Why cook dinners that go uneaten ... vacuum floors that only become soiled five minutes later ... make beds only to have them jumped on ... clean toilets ... mop floors (especially with a toddler at home) ... dust ... shower? It seems no one really notices or appreciates my best efforts anyway. I could cook a four-course dinner and would have no one to share it with. I would be a bigger hit in my household if I served Spaghettios every night. And that's not gonna happen.
I asked my mother-in-law why I did the things I did. I told her about my overall feelings of sadness and irritation. She simply said that this was how I was defining myself in this particular season of my life. After thinking about it, I believe she is right. My mother had a slightly different take on the matter. She suggested I was doing these things more for myself than my spouse or children.
Maybe staying home was a selfish choice. But, one I made with my children in mind. Of course, it was what I wanted. They really didn't particularly care one way or another at the time. But I like to think that down the road they will. I like to hope, at least, that, while the clean folded clothes in their drawers go unappreciated now, one day they will look back and be thankful I was here every single day for whatever they needed whenever they needed it.
I pray that although my dinners go largely uneaten, the few bites they take will help enhance their appreciation for food that doesn't come out of a can.
Growing up, I remember that my grandmother always had homemade chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar whenever we came for a visit. She probably didn't know that those cookies were going to be etched in my memory, but they are. To this day, when I recall my fondest childhood memories, that cookie jar is among them, sitting idly on the sidelines taking in the action, but very much central to the comfort recalled of those days.
Maybe my small gestures of cleaning, cooking and caring for my children will somehow find their ways into my children's mental cedar chest of memories. As a mother, that's what I am holding out for. That, and a really good massage hopefully some day soon!