Recently I’ve been musing over the Aesop’s Fable of City Mouse, Country Mouse. If you’ve never heard it, essentially two mice living in different habitats switch living spaces for a bit so they can experience life a different way than what’s become routine and ordinary for them. In the end, they discover that they’re better off staying in their own homes, and they appreciate it more. Something like that. In my mind, I’ve been applying it to mothering situations. The working mom and the stay-at-home mom, and the idea that we’re all susceptible to the idea of the grass is always greener somewhere else.
Because of teaching, I’ve gotten a taste of both since Birdy has been born. I went back to work, but I’ve gotten the summer to be with her. Today starts my last week of being with her, and it’s bittersweet.
There have absolutely been times this summer when I’ve felt so stir-crazy. When as much as I love Birdy, I’ve been weary of how much she needs me all day long. When I’ve been desperate for some adult interaction. Being a stay-at-home parent is HARD. Anyone who says otherwise is likely sugarcoating the truth and/or has never actually done it. It’s beautiful, but it’s difficult. It can feel isolating and emotionally draining, and just from my brief time in the parenting world, it seems like the stay-at-home parent doesn’t get nearly as much credit as they should. To those of you who do this 24-7/365, I have so much respect for you.
Even before I got pregnant, with Charlie and with Birdy, I knew I would be a working mom. I knew that teaching was a part of me, a calling rather than a job, and I knew I wouldn’t give it up. I also knew that I would be a happier mom, a better mom, if I continued to pursue that passion and show my kids what that looked like. And now, a week away from returning to work, there’s a part of me that’s truly looking forward to it.
But despite that, and despite the moments this summer where I’ve been exhausted by being a stay-at-home mom, there is also a part of me that wishes I could continue to stay at home with her. Because I wouldn’t trade a moment of the summer we’ve had together. I love that I’ve had this time to get to know her more, to continue to bond, to have her smile and laugh, learn to roll over and blow raspberries, have baby babble conversations with her, see her get adorably messy as we began to try baby food, to find her amazing feet, to feel the sweet weight of her on my chest as she succumbs to sleep. Getting to marvel at her exploring her world has been such a gift.
And so enter the thoughts of the city mouse and the country mouse — the idea of living life from another side. But I come to the same conclusion the fable does (well, ish); that my life is best lived with the way it is — as it pertains to working or staying at home. Best for our family. So while looking forward to rejoining the ranks of the working parents, I’ll always be grateful that my work allows me to be a SAHM for two months a year.