Peace of Mind from Good Weather Days by Melissa Swedoski
It’s a funny thing about the weather. It can make you feel upbeat and cheerful when the sun is shining just right and the wind is gently blowing, and it’s not too hot, not too cold. It can make you feel miserable inside and out when it’s cold, wet, gray and unceasingly cloud-filled. The human body is an amazing barometer of how the world feels when the clock is tuned just right.
I’m not sure my clock is tuned just right these days. Ever since we decided to foray into the world of preschool/daycare for our wee ones, I find myself slightly out of sorts. I know logically that it’s not hurting them at all to go to school and meet new kids, learn new things and have new experiences. I know this. We sent them to a small, in-home daycare just for that reason, so they remain in the company of only eight or so other kids, not 150 like a traditional daycare.
As I’m struggling to make some money at both writing and blogging and online maneuvering, I still find myself feeling guilty for not keeping them home with me. I know that I make almost no progress when they do stay home, because their needs are many, and let’s face it – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. If one is hungry, so is the other one. If one needs a nap, the other one is going to want to make a ruckus. So it is with siblings.
But I’m still plagued by this overwhelming sensation that I’m shirking my motherly, even parental, duties. I think back over the generations that have come before us, the ones who kept their children by their side until they went off to get married, as they often helped raise their younger brothers and sisters. Then I think about the women who fought for equal rights and equal pay so that women could go into the workforce if they wanted and still be able to be mothers.
If so many generations of women could be satisfied raising their children, then why can’t I?
Aha. That, my friends, is what really plagues me in the deep, dark moments of the soul.
Am I too selfish to be a mother? Am I too caught up in the glory of having babies and therefore missing the whole point of being a mother? Being in charge of someone’s fragile existence only to shirk it when it is less than convenient? I don’t know.
I know that I thrived on work for years before my children were born, 20 years of it, actually. I loved being involved in something and being part of a project or a team and working to accomplish a goal. When I gave that up for stay-at-home mommyhood, it was as though the absence of a project meant I was doing something fulfilling. But “just” raising our girls wasn’t enough. Why not? I don’t know.
It wasn’t as though I didn’t feel excruciating joy at having them in my life. After trying for so many years and thinking it would never happen, I suddenly found myself with two beautiful girls, full of vim and vigor and thirst for knowledge.
But then post-postpartum depression caught me in its grip, and suddenly things weren’t light and cheerful. They were painful, somber, serious, and overwhelmingly sad. Why? I don’t know, but I have a pretty good idea that the upheaval of my identity, for better or worse, signaled an end to the past that I wasn’t really ready to turn loose of, especially facing a future that had yet to be defined.
So now on the backside of treatment for PPD, the world looks a lot brighter, but I’m still not sure about being a full-time mom. I swore up and down that was what I wanted, that after years of hard work for someone else’s wallet and future, I was going to work for our future through our family. But it turns out, I’m not good at providing what they need. Why? I don’t know, but I suspicion that it has something to do with what’s still missing.
The missing piece, you see, is the peace of mind I still haven’t found. I’m still not sure where this family is heading. Are we going to live here forever or move again? Are we going to open a business, buy a business, go back to work for someone else? Can I live with myself sending our daughters to preschool, knowing that I could take care of them right here, right now?
Today, I really could use a good weather day.