This has been a funny little journey lately for me. I think sometimes I just want to look up into the sky and give God that "rachael" look and say "God... you're a thumbs up guy!" with my oh so inconspicuous hint of sarcasm. I don't have to understand His will to walk in it, but sometimes it would be nice.
On June 11th, I started my new career as a stay-at-home mom. "Congratulations on taking such a bold step!" you may say. And I will quietly reply "it was not by choice" and then quickly change the subject. In this new career, however, I have found this secret sub-culture of stay-at-home moms (SAHM they refer to themselves as) and I am awed by them. I feel like a tourist thrown into an unfamiliar culture--only its a culture I thought I understood. It's like going to Guatemala after two years of Spanish, thinking you can handle it when all you really know how to say is "Donde estas el bano?" My two greatest fears among these women are failure, and offense. On one hand, I feel like I can't measure up and that in time, I will go back to work not because we need the money, but because I can't possible stay at home all day and maintain normal life. The other is that I will think I am better than them or something and end up offending them beyond repair. Both of these fears are, of course, built on a foundation of paranoia and have no grounds, but if you are reading this, you know me and know that paranoia is an every day thing for me and the fact that I recognize it is there means all of nothing. I have grown to understand that we all choose to parent our children differently and in the end, they all turn out ok.
Just today I was at the mall with Anakin where we had met some other mommies to see a free movie the theatre offers for children during the summer. After the movie, I took Anakin down stairs to go play in the fountains outside but he threw a fit on the way because we couldn't ride the carousel. He decided to throw a tantrum so I left him there, in the corner he was crying in and walked about 20 feet away so he had some time to calm down (and so I had some time to cool off myself) I was far enough away that he knew he was in trouble, but close enough that he was safe. While I waited in viewing distance for his tantrum to run its course, a Mom and her daughter walked by, saw Anakin, whispered to each other and then turned and gave me an ugly look like I was the worst mother in the mall. All I thought in my head was, "Keep on walking lady--your kid is 16, you obviously don't remember what terrible 2s was like." I keep in mind that these bad days are better than most kids best days and I can get through it.
I also remember that he is 2. And 2 is 2. That's all there is to it. What I wish I knew is that as a parent, you often stop getting the things you want--you often don't get to do what you want to do because your life revolves around making sure this baby who can manage to make his voice the volume of a loudspeaker is appeased so you are not embarrassed. I wasn't bothered at all that the mom in the mall looked at me the way she did. I have to do what is best for me and my child. Not what is best for him. Not what is best for me. But what is best for both of us. Sometimes that means walking away so I don't lose my cool.
An opportunity has come up recently for me to keep another child just a few months younger than Anakin. A huge part of me hopes it works out because Anakin does so much better with other kids around. We'll see. Then I'll be a double stay-at-home mommy. DSAHM?