I started this blog more than three years ago, when we first moved to our quaint little suburb of Winston-Salem. I had recently been through an abrupt job change from full time (and mostly respected on an intellectual level) professional to full time home-maker.

I used to sort of hate all those titles: stay at home mom, home-maker, housewife, etc.

“Housewife” to me, now, sounds very much like “house cat,” which conjures a picture of a clean white robe, slippered feet, and someone filling my food-bowl twice a day, while I have little more to do than to move from one piece of furniture to another striving for optimal napping conditions. Maybe I’ll lick a paw. Maybe I’ll claw at my scratching post. But mostly I’ll lounge until my owners come home, and then resent the fact that I have to share my space with them.

If only.

Last summer we endeavored to check off at least three of the top six most stressful circumstances in a human’s life. Number one: moving. Numbers two and three: pregnancy and birth of a child. Number three and a half: seeking new employment.

For John, every day is a battle to find a new niche in his current profession, whether that be working for someone other than himself, or expanding his own personal horizons to include better business. Because even at it’s best, self employment is like another wife. (The uglier, fatter, louder, and more naggy version of me.)

Despite the constant sunshine, the end of Summer and most of the Fall was spent in an emotional fog, the kind that had John and me in our respective canoes, paddling in circles a mere three feet away from each other without knowing it. With the exception of my eight weeks of happy pills, I carried as much of his stress as he brought home, which was a lot.

But when the pills ran out, and the baby still wasn’t sleeping through the night, and after weekends full of things-to-do but nothing to show for all our effort, a come-to-Jesus moment was brewing, and by come-to-Jesus I mean one of those blubbering and crying and lots-of-cursing discussions which seems to be the only way to fully incite any clarity and change. (For me anyway. John holds himself together a little better.)

I’m a little jealous to admit that for my husband to come out of the fog, all it really took was a little bit more sleep and about twice as much working out in the week. This is why I will forever support his constant participation in various Winston-Salem adult soccer leagues. We started going to bed earlier and he started running a couple mornings a week and within ten days his sense of humor came back. Within four weeks, his patience with our children returned to normal.

Meanwhile, mine seems to be stagnant at the very best, and possibly backsliding. Working out has the opposite effect on me. Me craving time at the gym is really me craving an hour and a half away from my children, made all the more sweet if the lobby is empty of those incessant senior citizens who just want to yak my ear off about how cute my damn kids are. Seriously, with a full ninety minutes of pretending I don’t even have any children my batteries are recharged for a solid one to two days.

And actually, now that I say it, I think I’ve solved it. I haven’t really had a Dadderday since August 17th. I’m living in baby-land, where the days are long but cannot be measured in tasks accomplished. And after giving birth to the perfect child in 2012 (you know, the one who slept 20 hours a day until he was like 16 months) I suppose any baby would seem difficult. But #4 seems especially aware of her position in this family, and is making sure she never gets forgotten. She’s also determined not to sleep away this most-eventful first year of life.

Though I may not have mastered motherhood at this point, I have certainly learned that despite the long days, it is, sadly, a very short year. This is why I don’t want to spend it in resentment of yet another 45 minute nap, or a scream-filled ride in the car, or the pre-dinner meltdown that erases the good of a perfectly fine day and dumps the worst fifty-seven minutes into Daddy’s lap the instant he walks through the door.

Home-maker sounds about right. We are single moms, working moms, step-moms, and stay-at-home-dads and we all have one thing in common. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, what we are doing, we home-makers, is making something. And sometimes I have to wonder, when it comes to our kids, are we actually making everything?

If Happy Wife equals Happy Life and if Mama ain’t happy, aint’t nobody happy, then Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (the 3pm carline and 6am wake-up calls), to change the things I can (dirty diapers, my bedtime, and maybe my attitude), and the wisdom to see the bigger picture.

The Undertoad

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