Housewife soldier

Lots of things have been on my mind. Lots.

Wednesday night Hawk was in his play zone happily banging on pots and pans. I was split into about a dozen people, simultaneously making dinner, picking up toys he tossed over the edge, cleaning, thinking about my next 400 things I had to do. At this moment I happened to be wielding a knife. A big, fat dull knife. And a stubborn, slippery onion. You can figure out the rest.

Lots of blood, a good amount of pain, but nothing too horrendous. I didn't need stitches or a trip to the ER. As I ran my finger under water in the kitchen sink I spied the mess of rice under Hawk's highchair that I hadn't swept up yet. So, I quickly wrapped my bloody finger in paper towels and tape and swept up the rice one-handed.

I felt delirious. I had one hand held above my heart with a throbbing, pulsing fingertip and a broom in the other. Pans on the stove top, a vocal toddler talking to me, a hundred things going through my mind: what time will anthony be home? my feet hurt. the floor's a mess. is it bath time, yet? oh god, i'm still so sore. why am i sweeping when 30 seconds ago i spurted blood?? damn, my finger hurts! shit, i didn't finish chopping that onion.

Inside, I was laughing and crying like a crazy person. On the outside I was resolute and all business. I couldn't afford not to be all business. If I wasn't a housewife soldier I'd break down sobbing. For a moment I thought, "Is this really my life? Constant cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping?" Then, the requisite wave of guilt washed over me.  Hawk is here, sweet and pure. Cherub like in every way. I don't resent his existence even a little, but I'm beginning to resent mine.

I want a vacation from my life.

A place I can go where I don't have to clean up after my toddler tornado every hour of every day. A place where all I have to do is give him his food, not research it, shop for it, and prepare it. A place where the bed gets magically made, along with the floors cleaned, the fridge stocked up, and the dishes cleaned. A place where all the bills are paid for, the budget balanced for me. Just for a few days. That's all I want.

I want to be with my son and play with him and teach him and run around, but I don't want to have to worry about a goddamned other thing in my life.

I'm run down and disenchanted with what I've built for myself here. And I'm confused. How can I at once be content and unhappy? Because I am. I am wholly content with Rooster and our little family. We have money in the bank, a wonderful relationship, a great house, all the trimmings. We're just missing the picket fence. But yet, I'm unhappy with the repetition, the isolation, the burden of complete responsibility. I need a fucking break.

How does a stay-at-home mom get a break, anyway?? At what point did I learn that I had to do it all? And do it all perfectly? I'm running out of steam.

Rooster's always begging me to relax, to not multi-task, to just CHILL. I can't NOT multi-task. I can't NOT do, do, do. There are things to be done, damnit! At any given moment in the day I can think of a dozen things that need my attention. It drives him batty.

When Rooster's home, and he's not moving, he's napping. I call it Manertia (as in, Man Inertia). My step-dad has a similar propensity for napping, as does my sister's fiancé. I'm not throwing them under the bus, by any means, but it's certainly a difference between the women and men in my family. I have friends whose men do similar things. When Rooster isn't working or doing something around the house like mowing the lawn, he is napping. If he isn't moving his body to do some thing, whatever it may be, he's napping. I have hundreds of pictures of him asleep around the house: on our bed, the love seat, the floor, the couch, the chair, wherever he's overcome with the need to close his eyes he does.

And if he naps and awakens surprised that he dozed off he doesn't feel bad about it. He figures he needed it and goes about his day. When he's so tired he can't keep his eyes open he doesn't question his ability as a man, a father, or a husband. He thinks, "Hmm. Guess I was pretty tired," scratches his butt, sniffs, and goes on his merry way. - Well, not really. I added the butt scratching part.

It is such a gift, this idea we bestow upon little boys and young men, that they don't have to do it all and that it's ok; that their needs are legitimate and worth nurturing. Little girls are conditioned to take care of everyone first, themselves last. What they need and feel can always take a backseat to other things, like the dishes. To do so means you love purely, fiercely, and wholeheartedly, right? Well, yeah, ok, I guess, but what about me??

Why do I still let this be my m.o.? After years of feminist, anthropological, and sociological research and talking to every girlfriend I have who struggles with the exact. same. thing. You'd think I would have figured out how to slow the fuck down for myself by now. But you'd be wrong.

I wonder if it's as simple as taking a nap when I felt like it. If that could be my break. If I listened more closely to my body's cues for rest I might not feel so overwhelmed and run down. But then I think back to cutting my finger and sweeping up the rice. I had to sweep up the rice. I'm not willing to let that kind of crap just lay around on my floor. - See? The m.o. is still there.


Having said all this, I'm feeling better.Rooster  hasn't snored in three nights and so I've gotten large chunks of sleep as opposed to an hour here, an hour there. He didn't always snore. It's a new development in the last 6 months. I don't know how all those women out there can say, "I can't fall asleep without the sound of my husband snoring!" Bless their little hearts, 'cuz I want to push Rooster right out of the bed when he snores. I've been known to kick him out to the couch some nights. It's like having a newborn all over again. But like I said, it's been better the last three nights, so I feel a bit more rejuvenated.

And talking about this weight I've been feeling has helped immensely.Rooster  is a wonderful partner who always knows when to just hold me and say, "It's tough right now, but we'll get through it." He adds immeasurable contentedness to my life and I'm lucky to know him. Sharing my feelings means I don't feel quite as overwhelmed by a nebulous and secret dark cloud. I'm beginning to identify it. Now, I just gotta keep working towards sweeping it away.


  1. Oh, Jessica... what a great post. You are an amazing writer. I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling all these things; most moms feel this way. And me, who works full-time, feels this way. There is not enough time in a day to do all the things we feel we need to do. Keeping a house clean is a lot of work and it is never ending when we are running after our child(ren). Thinking and preparing and making the next meal... 3 times a day.. it gets soo tiring. There IS NOT enough time in the day for 'me time'. That sucks BIG TIME. I hardly ever go out with my friends anymore. I just can't do the things I used to do before having kids; everything, even a trip to the grocery store, has to be planned. And we just can't leave the house with our purse... no... we need a diaper bag, stocked with diapers, wipes, the soother, a bottle of milk, a change of clothes, etc. It's all so tiring! But like you said, you have a lot to be thankful for. Your husband sounds like a gem. Even though he naps a lot. MINE DOES TOO! What is with me and their need to nap? Seriously... I don't nap because I feel guilty if I do!
    And as for the rice... isn't that one of the hardest things to clean up? So annoying. (Besides vomit and poo!)
    Stay strong, mama! You're doing a great job. You're not alone.

  2. This post exemplifies why I don't think I could ever be a stay at home mom. I do not enjoy housework; in fact, I dread housework. You're a much better person than me for being so committed to it.

    I hope you're feeling better today!

  3. Jessica, great post! I don't know what to write, and I am very bad with words. Just wanted to let you know you are not alone in this! I feel this way a lot of the time, and mine is extra bad sometimes because DH is a trucker and gone all the time. He was home for a few hours yesterday and just fell asleep on the couch, snoring and all. It bugs me to no end that I can't fall asleep as easy as he can.

    Being a stay at home mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I think I've lost my mind somedays for even agreeing to this.

  4. Women need to talk. We need to talk and talk and talk. And when we are cooped up with young ones with a husband that comes home and NAPS, well... We tend to not be able to talk enough and it builds up and we eventually explode.

    And then we're better. Usually. Usually, all I need is to erupt occasionally, and then all is calm. I had a mini-eruption a day or 2 ago and today? Today I multi-tasked and organized as I HAD to in order to keep the family running. But! But I never give myself the illusion that it can be done perfectly. It cannot. I cannot. I am NOT perfect.

    Perfection kinda sucks, anyway.


  5. A vacation sounds great, but having just come back from one with two kids under three I suggest you go out by yourself for coffee for an hour. Take a book. Much more relaxing.
    I suffer from multi-tasking too, and the need to be a "good" mom all the time. My new goal is just to be "okay". An "okay" mom has a messy house and a messy child sometimes, but they are more relaxed. I think moms need to take the pressure off themselves! :-)

  6. This is a great post. You've summed up all the things that us SAHMs feel at some point during the day... everyday.

    Here is a repost of the comment I made to you on Twittermoms:

    Being a Stay of home mommy is the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. And I've been struggling. Sometimes I think it's easier to go to work. This winter has been especially tough on me since it's been too cold to take my little one out anywhere and every time I took him out, either me or him or both got sick!

    Now that the weather is better I've been taking him to the park, etc and trying to change things up a bit.

    I think the best advice I can give is to remember yourself. I was always feeling guilty when I did anything fun for myself (like sneaking in a bit of sewing while my toddler played by himself, or stopping somewhere like the bookstore to poke around). But in the long run, you have to keep things interesting, or you'll go crazy. There are tons of play groups to join around here, but if you're like me, you'll find that being a mommy isn't the only thing you want to be defined by.

    I'm still trying to get the hang of it, and believe it or not, Twitter is really helping. Every time I get down, I can look at the SAHM tweets I get in a day and I realize that they are having very similar struggles. They also give great advice or encouragement when things are getting a little monotonous.

    Good luck... and if you find any good strategies, please share, I would love some new ones!

  7. Fantastic writing! I love how you have the "you might like this set up" b/c that's how I find your best stuff.
    I love the term "housewife soldier." I'm going to call myself that when I feel like giving up.

    Makes what I do sound so ass-kickin!