Sometimes one of the hardest things about becoming a parent is feeling like you have given up a big part of yourself that you used to share with your spouse. Before children, I had the time and mental energy to be a better partner and friend. I used to cook real food, host more parties and be more than a hot mess of being annoyed and cranky with anyone who comes into my line of sight. Now it seems like most of myself goes into being a mom and all that goes with it, and my husband and I are more like co-workers in this asylum. By the time the inmates are asleep, we’re ready to clock out.
With every child who’s come along, it feels like the “pie” that is me gets cut into smaller and smaller pieces with the lion’s share going to our kids and mere slivers remaining for my husband and me. The kids get all the whipped cream, cherries and yummy goodness. All that’s left is some forlorn soggy crust and some crumbs (and of course a mess for me to clean up.)
It’s easy for me to complain about how much parenthood can suck, but sometimes I need to stop and take a step back. I’m always reminding my kids that the things in life that are the hardest and take the most work and practice, are usually the things that end up giving us the most joy and satisfaction in the end. Things like learning to read, ride a bike, or to play an instrument or sport — all take a lot of work, frustration and falls along the way. But the sense of accomplishment in the end and the joy these things can continue to give us the rest of our lives is worth it all.
I need to remind myself that parenting is the same way. Right now I’m in the throes of the hard, frustrating work that it takes to raise kids who hopefully will one day be amazing, independent, intelligent, caring adults who will change their piece of the world for the better. Believe me, there are days when it feels like I’ll never make it through and I’m just raising a bunch of future serial killers. But then I look at the great things they are doing — like working hard at school and being a kind person, to feeding themselves and properly using the bathroom…well some things are still a work in progress… but they’re well on their way.
But this still doesn’t address the problem of no pie left for my husband and me. Pie is good, and not having enough pie in life makes for a cranky person. So on Saturday, he and I had a “date day” and it was wonderful. We went to see “The Post” (it was fantastic and very thought provoking.) While seeing the movie was great, I think my favorite part was the time before and after it. Just getting to ride in the car and talk with him uninterrupted, not having to break up an argument or answer “Are we there yet??” Instead we were able to catch up on what was going on in our lives — more than what we normally get to do in the evening when we’re both exhausted. We sat and enjoyed coffee together, had an insightful conversation about the movie, laughed a lot and actually reminded ourselves that we still like each other! Instead of just bitching about the insanity of life, to-do lists, the kids doing shitty things and being tired — we were able to step back and laugh about the funny and great things the inmates are doing. It was refreshing to take a breath together.
I’ve come to the realization that instead of just cutting up the pie into smaller pieces, maybe I just need to make more pie. Having the babysitter come and getting away with my husband was well worth it and filled me up — it gave me more pie to share. While my children do need to be the main focus of my life right now, I know I need to be better about taking care of the other important relationships in my life. I mean if I had a job at an office, I would probably get at least 2 weeks of paid vacation. The purpose of vacation is to relax and recharge. When companies encourage their employees to take time off, they benefit by not having a workforce of grumpy, unproductive and burned out employees. So why don’t I take more time off from my job of being a stay-at-home mom and recharge? Wouldn’t my kids and husband benefit from a mom and wife who’s refreshed, recharged and hopefully slightly less surly? I’m sure they’d appreciate more time away from me too!
So dear husband and friends, I’m coming for you. We’re going out for pie a la mode. Pie’s awesome, but sharing it with people you love makes it all the better.