The other day I was having a disagreement with someone - a female someone, oddly enough - and she said to me, "Well what's the problem with changing your schedule? You're home all day anyway. It's not like you have a job to go to...."
Obviously, that's stupid in so many ways, and I told her right then and there that I knew she didn't really mean it (translation: You'd better not really mean that, or else there will be a bloodbath - right here, right now). But the exchange got me thinking about the job of motherhood, for me at least, and here's what I thought:
- No matter how much I do (and I do a lot), it will never be sufficient. There will always be part of me that wonders if there's something more or better I could have done. Other people (or magazines or TV shows or books or therapists) are always telling us there's something more or better we should do and, like anyone doing a job she takes seriously, I try to learn ways to do it better. So there's good and bad to it, but at the end of the day I never sit down, having put that last kid to bed, and think, 'Damn I did a great job today! I really am the shit!" That's just not how this job goes, ever.
- The things we do manage to do successfully are the least apparent things. By which I mean, if you have a tidy house, a good kid or kids, and a decent marriage that is seen as "normal." That's the baseline everyone measures by. The fact that my kids have clean underwear every day isn't going to get me any awards. Most of the time, really, it's only when things go wrong - kids acting out, garbage dump on the front lawn, etc - that what we've done or not done gets noticed.
The thing is, I know I'm a really good mom, and I sincerely love being one. It's the greatest happiness of my life. But it's also just a really weird job (and that's not even going into the no pay part!). Not a deep realization, I know, but hey, I've got four kids, I don't have time for deep.