I'm Jealous of My Husband
This morning my daughter exploded.
Okay, so maybe she didn't explode, but her intestines obviously did. There was poop everywhere -- mashed into her blankets, smeared all over her crib bars, caked onto her hands, feet, and face. The weird thing is, she hadn't even been crying or fussing. I heard her wake up, and I allowed her to babble contentedly to herself for a few minutes while I brushed my teeth and threw some clothes together, then I walked to her room, opened her door, and immediately I knew something had gone terribly wrong. I was so bowled over by the smell that it took a few minutes for me to realize there was literally shit everywhere; that I'd just entered my 1-year-old's personal palace of poo.
I plucked her from her poopy paint party, undressed her, cleaned her off with wipes as best I could, and then carried her immediately to the bathroom to rinse her off in the tub. I scrubbed every inch of her with a washrag, then dried and dressed her. I got her situated in her high chair with a sippy cup and some cut up fruit while I stripped her sheets and threw them in the washing machine along with her favorite blankie, her pajamas, a stuffed animal, and pretty much anything else that had been in the immediate vicinity of her crib.
After my daughter finished her breakfast, I set her up with some toys in her room while I opened all the windows to air the place out. I grabbed the Clorox wipes and started scrubbing each individual bar of her crib, even the ones with no visible poo prints.
For a brief moment, I felt like Super Mom. My daughter had literally covered her room in poo, and I didn't freak out. I knew exactly what to do. In fact, I had handled that like a pro. I was awesome! Then, my husband, who I'd texted earlier about the morning's events, sent me a text message saying his manager offered to buy everyone lunch today and he'd be eating Jason's Deli at work after he finished training a rep from the Secretary of State's office on some new equipment. I read the text message over before returning to my crib-scrubbing and I felt a pang of jealousy wash over me.
Where was my Jason's Deli?
It wasn't really about the food, of course. It was more about my husband and his work. We're moving in a few months as a result of a promotion my husband is receiving. He gets to do cool things like work with people from the Secretary of State's office and go out to lunch with adults where they eat adult food and talk about adult things. And I scrub poop off of crib bars and think I'm on par with CEOs the world over because of my awesome ability to feed and clothe an infant while simultaneously cleaning up a massive poop-splosion of epic poop-portions.
I knew my decision to be a stay-at-home parent entailed sacrifices, and I'd heard a million times over that parenting is "the hardest job in the world," but it wasn't until I actually had my daughter and experienced mom life that I finally understood what people mean when they say that. Being a stay-at-home parent, or really any kind of parent, is difficult not because of the tasks you're required to do -- I'm pretty sure any idiot can figure out how to wipe up a little poop -- but because of how much of yourself you're expected to give.
Even heeding the advice of others and not "losing myself in motherhood," there are still times when I feel slighted by the decision I've made to stay home with my daughter. I'm jealous sometimes of the automatic respect my husband gets just because he can say, "I work at X company" instead of, "I stay at home." I'm jealous that stories he tells about his day have nothing to do with poop or vomit, that he doesn't spend his whole day recounting the last time someone ate, slept, or had a diaper change. I'm jealous that when someone asks him about himself, he has more to talk about than the fact that he's a parent.
If I'm being honest, I do, too. I freelance. I blog. I've been somewhat successful in these endeavors, and on good weeks, I feel like that success grows larger every day. But on weeks like this one -- weeks where I've been swamped with chores and preparing for our move, when I haven't had much time to write at all, let alone think about pitching ideas or ways to sell my writing -- it's hard to remember that. It's hard not to feel like I've been reduced to She Who Is An Expert at Fecal Clean-Up.
As much as I enjoy my life as a stay-at-home parent, I feel a weird sense of shame about the simplicity of my life now, about the small things that now bring me a sense of accomplishment. Small feels like the only word to describe so many things in my day-to-day, and it's a hard adjustment to make when everything else you've ever accomplished or planned for your life has been big, bold, and exciting.
I've had jobs, and I've traveled. I've lived overseas and in a big city. I've completed a degree, I'm training for a half-marathon, and this month, I've committed to writing an entire novel in 30 days. I am a whole lot of person, a person in every way equal to my husband and with a similarly fantastic-sounding life, but I forget that. I forget who I am, and I feel these pangs of frustration, of jealousy, of isolation.
Sometimes I rail against them, and you can find me thrashing about, rattling on and on about the life I should be living and what I'm going to do to make it that way. But other days, days like today, I lean into those emotions, and I let them wash over me and continue on their way because I know, just as my husband does, that it's just Jason's Deli, and it's just a little poop. All of this is temporary. And whether I'm the Secretary of State or a stay-at-home parent of 37 kids, it is who I am, not what I do, that defines me.
Photo Credit: associatedfabrication.