Temporary stay at home mom, and that's ok with me.

Two kids, two stints as a temporary stay at home mom….otherwise known as maternity leave.  My second “vacation” as many ignorant people around me prefer to call my time off is coming to a close.  Back to being a slave to the man next week.  I have mixed emotions.  I love my children.  I have sincerely enjoyed this time with them.  I have had this awesome opportunity to really get to know my toddler.  We have breakfast together every morning, practice flash cards, play with his toys, and snuggle before nap time.  Who wouldn’t love that?  I’ve of course loved being home with my newborn, but he’s just getting to the point of smiling and interacting and actually being awake for a good portion of the day.  His personality is starting to shine…right when I have to go back to work.  Maybe I’ll go ahead and get preggo with kid #3 so I can have another vacation to bond with my second son.  ;)

Back to the mixed emotions.  I am sad and I imagine there will be a few tears shed on the way to work next week.  But, I’m also relieved.  You see, I like adult interaction.  I actually like my job and the people I work with.  I am looking forward to my long commute.  That’s right, I said looking forward to it.  That is when I have me time.  I get to play my music as loud as I want, or have complete silence.  I get to catch up with friends on the phone and actually hear what they are saying without kids screaming in the background.

Over the past twelve weeks, I’ve been responsible for most of the care of the children, almost all of the care of the house, and most of our dinners.  Normally, the dinner thing is not my cup of tea.  I don’t mind cooking, but I’m not that great at it.  I can follow a recipe, and sometimes I can even make the recipe my own and actually come up with something edible.  But, I have burned hot dogs in the microwave and overcooked a chicken breast so much so that the dog wouldn’t even eat it.  My husband makes fun of my cooking (I know that makes him sound like an ass but it’s actually kind of funny.)  So, I am looking forward to giving the dinner portion of our day back to him next week.  I am also looking forward to him picking up some of the housecleaning.  I am tired of vacuuming and more tired of being the only one in charge of laundering the 400 tiny pieces of clothing my sons go through each week.

I have started to wonder here recently that if I’m happily looking forward to my commute, giving up cooking dinners, and giving up some of the care of the children and the house, would I really make a good permanent SAHM?  Sure it’s been great not to stress over my job these past 12 weeks and it has been even greater to spend time with my kiddos, but I have had days where I have questioned if doing all of this permanently would really be good for me or my kids.

Wondering this about myself makes me reflect back to my mom’s years as a SAHM.  She stayed home from the time I was born until I was around 11/12 years old.  She did everything while my dad worked.  If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you’ll know that she was not that great of a mother.  I am now wondering if the fact that she was home with us five to six days per week without adult interaction, without anyone praising her for her work, without any money to be able to even get out of the house, made her crazy?  I am wondering if the same thing would happen to me?  Would I eventually lose my mind and treat my children like shit because I would be so unhappy as a SAHM?

I know that my mother dealt with a lot of issues related to her own mother and father abandoning her as a child, and honestly, I don’t think she ever actually dealt with the issues.  I think the fact that she bottled them up inside caused her to go crazy.  I think she developed severe anxiety and jealousy issues due to her mother and father leaving her, whoring around, and basically not being involved in her life for many years.  She had to hear stories about how her own parents were sleeping around town with other people (much younger people I might add), staying out at bars, and basically living single lives as if my mother never existed.  I know that she too also had to endure physical and verbal abuse from both of her parents.  I feel sad for her and her childhood.  I know it was tough on her, but one would believe that she would have taken the opportunity to harness that negativity, turn it into something positive, and give her kids the best life she could. Maybe she did give us the best life she could.  Maybe she treated me the only way she learned how to treat children.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever know exactly why she treated me so miserably because she will a) never admit she did anything wrong, and b) she’ll never ever talk about it.  She goes about her life now pretending that she was an awesome mother.  I am 100 percent positive my step-dad has no clue about what really happened behind closed doors when I was a child.

In analyzing why my mother treated me the way she did, I think it has to do with a) the fact that her own childhood was shitty and she never dealt with her feelings toward her own parents, b) she was a stay at home mom who wasn’t appreciated and barely had any interaction with the outside world, and c) because my dad was a terrible husband.  In one of my earlier posts, I talked about how they cheated on each other.  That’s bad enough.  But they took it to the next level.  They hit each other all the time.  The called each other every name in the book.  I have a ton of memories of them fighting.  They fought at home, in the car, out in public, everywhere.  They were violent.  I have many memories of my brother and I sitting in the backseat of our car, my dad in the driver seat, and he and my mom yelling and hitting each other while we are going down the road.  I remember being so frightened and my brother and I screaming at them to stop.  I can still see their arms raised in the air hitting each other.  I can see my dad pulling her hair and her crouching in defense.  I can still hear my dad saying he would kill my mother.  I can still hear my mother sobbing.  Worst of all, I can still hear my precious little brother crying out of fear.  He was five years younger than me and so innocent.  Thankfully, the fighting would end though as soon as we pulled up to our destination.  They would put on their game faces and walk in the store, my grandparent’s house, wherever our horrible car ride had led us.  I should have said something to someone.  I should have done more to protect my brother from it.

Their fights at our house were even worse.   There was more room I suppose for things to really get ugly.  I cringe at remembering how I felt when I started to hear their voices raise.  I would always silently pray that God would make them stop arguing as soon as they had started.  Sometimes I would just sit in my room and listen…I was afraid to go out in the hall because I knew if one of them saw me, I would be dragged in the middle of it.  I remember one time I was brushing my teeth one night and a fight started.  I got in the bathtub (even though I had already bathed), turned on the water, and held my head under the running water so that was the only thing I could hear.  Listening to the water, I cried and asked God why was I in this family….how did I get so unlucky?

Many times, I would go to my little brother if I could get to wherever he was without them seeing me.  I wanted to protect him from it…I needed to. If he was in his room, I would turn on his tv or radio loudly so he didn’t have to listen to it.  I would shut and lock his bedroom door.  I was afraid.  Many of their fights were about us.  I am fairly certain they did not agree on anything when it came to parenting us.  Out of the many fights that were about my brother and I, most were about me.  My mom would lie and say I did something to my brother or to her, and my dad wouldn’t believe her at first.  She would get angry and claim he loved me more than her, then it would escalate from there.  She was insanely jealous of me…and I had no idea why.  I wasn’t even that close with my dad.

Their fights would start with yelling, and then came the curse words.  They called each other every name in the book…over and over again.  Then, the hits would start.  First my dad would shove my mom and then she would fight back.  Then, he would punch her, throw her into a wall, and drag her down the hallway.  Please keep in mind we lived in two not-so-big houses, so all of this was happening within a few feet of my brother and I.  Sometimes their fights would end with one of them leaving, my mother locking herself in a room and crying, or with them coming after me.  See, if the fight was about something my mother said I did and my dad not believing her, he would eventually either believe her or appease her by beating me.  I remember him coming in to whatever room I was in and asking me if I did so-called bad thing.  I would say no because most of the time I had not done whatever ridiculous thing my mother had made up, but he would then call me a lying, ungrateful bitch and beat me.  As I got older, I would fight back, but I was always overpowered.  My dad is a big guy with several years of police training.  He can whip some ass if necessary.  Sounds pretty f-d up, right?

Reflecting back on these fights has also reminded me of the sense of false peace I felt once the fights were over.  When the house was quiet again, I would feel relief and a slight sense of normalcy.  If a few days had passed without any fighting, I remember thinking that perhaps it was over…  Perhaps they truly loved each other, maybe even made a promise they wouldn’t fight anymore.   Perhaps my prayers had been answered.  But all too soon the violence would start again, and I would be reminded of why I hated my life so much at the time.

One of the worst fights they ever had almost ended with me calling the police.  I look back on this particular one and wish that I had called the police.  How embarrassing would that have been for my dad, Mr. Law Enforcement himself, to go to jail for domestic abuse?  At the time of this particular fight, we were living in a very small rental house.  My brother and I shared the same room and a bed for a year.  I was approximately 9 years old.  I am fairly certain my little brother slept through this particular fight, although I have no idea how he did.  I cannot remember what they were arguing about, but it got out of control quickly.  There was slapping, punching, yelling, things being thrown around…  I remember laying in the bed listening to every word and praying for it to end so I could sleep.  I remember feeling so afraid.  I pulled the covers up so that my head was halfway covered.  If they did come in our room, I wanted them to think I was asleep.  (To this day, if I’m alone, I still sleep with the cover halfway over my head…I suppose it’s a source of comfort for me.)  As the fight progressed, I heard my mother open the cabinet in the kitchen where my dad kept one of his guns.  I thought for sure she was going to shoot him.  Instead, she yelled at him and said she was going to kill herself.  She went outside on the back porch with the gun.  Her sobbing was so loud I am sure the neighbors (who were half a mile down the road) could hear it.  My dad pleaded with her, told her he was sorry, said whatever he could to make her come back inside.  After what seemed like hours, she did come back in, and they made up…and had sex.  They slept on a pull out sofa on the other side of the wall of the room I slept in, and I could hear it all.  I was truly disgusted.  Disgusted at their fighting, the fact that my mom threatened to kill herself, and the fact that they were having sex and I could hear it.  How could they act like that just a few feet from their children?  How could they think we actually slept through that shit?

The next day, as I got on the bus to go to school, I felt so alone.  No one knew what was going on at my house and I could never tell them.  I looked around at my schoolmates and was jealous out of my mind of each of them.  Surely, none of them had to deal with things like this.  I imagined them to have awesome parents who loved them to pieces.  I imagined they had fun family dinners together, played games, watched tv, played outside together.  I imagined my schoolmates having childhoods I could only dream of.

If you read my post from two days ago about raising my voice at my toddler, you’ll know that I’m scared to death of turning into my parents.  In analyzing my mother’s situation {(a) the fact that her own childhood was shitty and she never dealt with her feelings toward her own parents, b) she was a stay at home mom who wasn’t appreciated and barely had any interaction with the outside world, and c) because my dad was a terrible husband )} and comparing it to my own, I already have thing “a” going against me.  But, I find solace in the following facts.  I am dealing with thing “a.”  That is what this blog is for.  I am only a temporary SAHM, so thing “b” is not part of my current equation.  And, my husband is the complete opposite of terrible, so thing “c” is out too.

I will not let my kids have the same memories I have of my parents.  I just won’t.  It’s not fair.  They have done nothing to deserve that kind of life.  Sure, my husband and I have fought.  We’ve had very heated arguments that I regret…arguments that remind me of my parents.  We haven’t had one of those in a very long time though, and I will do all in my power to not let our differences escalate out of control…especially in front of our children.  I don’t want my kids to be afraid of us, or embarrassed by us, or feel lonely and depressed and jealous of their classmates’ lives.  I want them to feel happiness, and love, and know that they can count on my husband and I for anything and everything.  We should be their protectors and their safe haven from the rest of the world, not the thing they are most fearful of.

So, in an effort to remove anything I can from the equation that equals emulating my parents’ behaviors, I will not be a stay at home mom.  I will work hard at home and at my job, and I will work knowing I am providing a good life for my children.  My temporary stint as a stay at home mom is ending, and I’m ok with that.

All the best,

Someone’s mom

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Tags: SAHM, abuse, at, childhood, domestic, fighting, home, into, mom, my, More…parents, stay, turning, violence

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