Being an at-home mom is actually being an Uber driver who never gets paid.
A big part of my mid-life crisis is that this whole motherhood thing has changed up on me and suddenly, nobody needs me anymore. Well, OK. They still need me but only for a ride to Nick's house or ten bucks for the movies or hey, Mom, can you sign this permission slip? About 98.9% of being an at-home mom is being an Uber driver who never gets paid.
I swore I was never gonna be one of those moms who lost herself in motherhood; whose whole identity was her children but apparently, I've done exactly that. I gave my whole self to this endeavor, just completely sunk myself body and soul into this thing and, now, 17 years later I find myself wandering around the house all aimless and melancholy singing: "Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? Sunrise, sunset! Swiftly flow the years!"
Gah. I am a walking cliche.
I am frustrated with myself for CARING this much. Who IS this person and WHY is she sobbing into her morning coffee? GET A GRIP, LADY.
The other day at breakfast I burst into song (as I do on the regular)—HOW MUCH WOOD COULD A WOOD CHUCK CHUCK IF A WOOD CHUCK COULD CHUCK WOOD?!— and nobody laughed. Nobody smiled. Everybody was face-down in their Honey-Nut Cheerios. I know it sounds pathetic but I was devastated. I used to have a wildly enthusiastic audience to entertain with my antics and now, now they are all bored with me. My jokes fall flat. My funny little ditties are ignored.
So, I sang the song again but this time using Jasiel's nickname: HOW MUCH BOSS COULD A JOSS BOSS BOSS IF A JOSS BOSS COULD BOSS JOSS?!
I sang it again. Louder. Eventually, Joss flicked an eyeball in my direction and in a couldn't-be-more-unimpressed-voice said: "Mom, I'm not the Joss Boss anymore. I'm Jasiel."
She murdered my heart with those words, she did. I sighed one of those shuddering sighs and real, actual tears came out of my eyes.
"Here's a shocker," James announced. "Mom's crying again."
"Sorry, guys. I'm lame," I said and shuffled over to the sink.
Blah. All these thoughts are rushing through my head: I can't burden my children with my mid-life crisis! I shouldn't let them see how hard this is for me! I am so emotionally immature. Ugh! I need to stop holding everyone hostage to my moods! WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS???????
(This post is beginning to sound really whiny. I'm gonna stop whining now).
Here's the crux of it: I didn't expect motherhood to be so lonely. I thought it would get LESS lonely. I thought if I just crammed all these babies into my life it would eradicate the huge, gaping hole of loneliness I feel all the time. And now I have five kids and four dogs and I'm here to tell you I still feel lonely.
It helps me to remember that loneliness is just the human condition. Single people are lonely and married people are lonely and people without children are lonely and mothers of twenty five kids are lonely, too. Maybe there's not a FIX to the loneliness except to find ways to be of service to other people. Yes, loneliness is real but what is also real is that when I find ways to help and love others, I feel better.
Here's another truth: I feel better when I'm busy. I like being around people. I like taking care of people. I like being of service. The kids are getting older, I've written two books and my busy-ness is decreasing. I don't like THAT. But maybe I can find a way to be busy again. Did I mention I'm working as a server again? Yep. So, there's a start.
Here's something else I know: it's not my kids' responsibility to make me happy. I am learning how to make myself happy. It's just that—I didn't expect it to be so much work! Being happy is hard work, you guys. But I am determined to keep working at it, to find a new life for myself. I'm in research mode. Should I go back to school? Should I be a nurse? Should I write more? SHOULD WE SELL EVERYTHING AND TRAVEL THE UNITED STATES IN A CAMPER?
Blah. I also need to take breaks from figuring things out. It's exhausting. Where's my Cookie Butter?
"TWINS GET IN THE CAR!" I hollered two days ago. "IT'S TIME TO GO TO SCHOOL!"
So, they did. I was busy fiddling with the defroster when Jor said:
"Mom, can you sing the buckle-up song?"
My heart leapt with joy. Did she really just ask me that?
The Buckle-Up Song is a little ditty I cobbled together when James was about 3. He always forgot to buckle his seat belt so I made up a song that I sang every time we got in the car. It's an embarrassing song, a kind of rap-sing-song-mash-up that goes:
Buckle up, buckle in, let me begin
Party on party people, jump jump rejoice
Big Jimmy's in da house gonna make some noise!
It's awkward and weird but the kids always loved it and now, James never forgets to buckle his seatbelt.
So, of course I sang the Buckle-Up Song. I sang it loud and proud and I sang it several times in different voices and accents because why not. And when I glanced in the rear view mirror, the twins were grinning at me.
I grinned back.
Oh, look. My roses are blooming. They'll never leave me! WILL THEY? OH, ROSES MY LOVES WILL YOU BE MY FRIENDS FOREVER??