Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes

So Travis is the favorite parent. Like 100%, no denying it, "I wish mom could get a job so Dad could stay home with us" kind of favorite parent.
I have never, ever been the favorite to Grey and Micah - not even when they were 6 months old. I have been August's favorite for a good 15 months- but the last few months, the scales have slowly been swinging out of my favor. Travis isn't definitely August's favorite, but he's at least tied with me. And all. day. long. August repeats "Dada? Dada?" And he screams every morning when Travis leaves for work.
This is okay. I mean, at one in the morning, when they're screaming his name and not mine, or on long hikes, when they insist he carry them, then I begrudge Travis nothing. But on regular days, when the kids say "You're the worst mom ever," or "We wish we could always be with dad, and you had to go to the office," then I'm sad.
And I try not be selfish.

Travis has been spending a lot of time at work lately, and Grey and Micah have been aching for Dad-time. This week Travis said, "I think I'll come home early, and take the boys camping overnight on Wednesday." And this morning when he left, he said, "Please try to get everything ready so we can just go right after I get back from work. "
I don't begrudge him this, I am at home and can do it- so don't think I'm complaining or mad. But as I rolled up the last tinfoil dinner, and went through the mental checklist (Extra socks, wet wipes, beanies, roasting spears), I found myself thinking:
I'm a facilitator. I'm enabling Travis to be the favorite parent. He gets to swing in "Hey boys, let's go camping!" and everyone grabs the pillows and duffel bags waiting by the door and races out, never once thinking "I wonder if there are matches in here. I wonder if mom found my missing water bottle. I wonder who mysteriously placed these items here for me to grab the moment that I thought of it."

And isn't that how it always is? At least for us stay-at-home parents? We aren't the come-home-and-wrestle parent, we're the here-all-day-enforcing-naptime parent.

And sometimes I feel frustrated that I facilitate a lot of fun. Whenever we decide to go on a picnic, I pack dinner. When we hike to a waterfall, I bring snacks. When the boys go camping, I buy marshmallows beforehand and wash stinky socks afterward. And if we are going to grandma's for a late-night watching fireworks, I'm the one enforcing naptime beforehand so that no one bites grandpa out of exhaustion and confusion.

But I'm not the favorite.

After watching the Prince of Egypt recently, Grey asked me, "Mom, are we your slaves?"
"No," I said. "I think I might be your slave."
Even after I explained the joke, they didn't agree.

The truth is, I generally don't care that Motherhood isn't glamorous. I don't care that I don't get a paycheck or recognition. I don't mind that I'm not employee of the month.
And frankly, I don't want to be the parent that swings home after a day working and heads out camping. I'd rather just be here all day, walking across my extremely sticky kitchen floor (it's getting a mopping tonight when I'm home alone!) and then gets to sleep in her own bed at night.
It's just hard to remember, sometimes, that this is in fact what I want. This is what I chose. This is what makes me happy.

So tonight, I am going to watch that "new" Cinderella movie by myself, while eating caramel popcorn and drinking a Mexican pineapple soda (because those things go very well together) and I am going to iron open quilt blocks for a baby blanket I'm working on, and I will toast to the unglamorous behind-the-scenes-ness of motherhood. And I will try to remember, that I almost definitely the boys' second favorite person in the world.
And that's not a bad place to be.


-Danica- said...

So many of my own thoughts compiled right here. Did you cry while watching Cinderella?? I sobbed. And I can't say "have courage and be kind" without tearing up again

Gypsy Quilter said...

I've no doubt when there's a boo boo or a broken toy, you're their #1 CEO for Ms. Fixit! Hang in there. They grow sooo fast.

Rachel said...

Ah I loved this. My son is only 1, and I have been the definite favorite, but I can tell it is changing. He gets so excited when my husband is around. I love your label of 'enabler of fun' because I feel that way all the time as a SAHM and you describe it perfectly. The good and the bad.

Mhopp said...

Love this!

MARCIE said...

Really darling photo at the end! I always tell everyone what a great mom you are!

Brittney M said...

My first comment on your lovely blog! Thanks for taking the time to write. There have been a few posts that have really spoken to me. I just wanted to say that I think this is something about being a mother, not just stay at home parent. I work from home and have become the main provider lately so my husband does a lot of the day to day even though I am there. He is better at cooking and cleaning and other household stuff so this works pretty well for us. But I've noticed that I am still the sort of behind the scenes, in charge, enforcer. I have to make sure nap time and bed time happen on time and the checklist happens beforehand. I have to remind my husband to do things for our child that he forgets. I am the one who tells our son "no" when he needs to stop doing what he is doing and move on to something else. I'm the one with the checklist for what our son will need when we are on a trip. I'm the one who notices and enforces when he needs a nap. I am not eloquent, so I can't put it into words well, but let's just say that becoming a mother made me see gender differences that I didn't before. My husband is a wonderful, capable father, but he naturally fulfills a different role than I do and sometimes I resent it even though I wouldn't change being a mother for the world.