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It’s a Beautiful Life Sentence

Coffee Break

As I move the knob up to “brew,” I sigh to myself. For some reason, brewing a second batch of coffee for the day feels like some form of failure.

When it occurs to me I’m feeling this way, I have to ask, why? When I was working, I wouldn’t think twice about needing an afternoon caffeine boost. So, why, when I’m brewing the coffee myself instead of purchasing it in a crisp, white paper cup, do I feel like I’ve failed?

Countless times lately, I’ve looked at my new life as a stay-at-home mom (for now, as I’m always compelled to say), and felt more than a little deficient. This is a much bigger transition than I ever thought it would be.

In many ways, all is wonderful. My baby is happy, healthy — positively cherubic. His rosy cheeks widen every time he looks at me, and my heart melts every time I look at him. I love — love — being able to be with him every day.

But many Friday afternoons, I find myself drained and I breathe that pre-weekend sigh of relief. Then I remember: there are no days off for the stay-at-home mom.

This is a job I treasure — granted, it’s also the hardest job I’ve ever had. But it’s a job I feel very, very lucky to have. So I had to probe a little deeper to find out why I frequently feel like I’m not the employee of the year.

Why was I always so much quicker to forgive myself when I worked for someone else than I am now, when I essentially work for myself?

(Maybe it’s because my boss is actually a 16-pound comedian who blows raspberries in my face when I bend over to wipe his ass.)

I think it must be because this is the most important job I’ve ever held. No matter how well I’m doing, I never feel like I’m doing well enough. There is always more laundry to be done; the dogs could always use more exercise; the floors of my house could be mopped clean of dog slobber and potato chip crumbs, if I were so inclined. Right now I’m using the precious time while my son is asleep to explore my feelings through my tip-tapping fingers instead of taking the shower I (badly) need.

The fact is, the job of a mom — whether staying at home or working outside the home — is never done. I look at my own mom and realize that, while she retired from her career last year, she’ll never be completely off work. She’ll never stop worrying about my sister and me; she’ll never stop calling us on holidays or making sure we’re as happy and healthy as we can be. I’ll bet each August and every June, when my sister and I celebrate our birthdays, she’s not thinking about birthday cake or candles. I’ll bet she still thinks about the day we were born.

I know I’ll do this each October 6 for the rest of my life.

Yes, there are days when this job feels more like a life sentence. Because that’s in fact what it is. A beautiful, heart-wrenching life sentence that started the day my son was born, and will probably (hopefully) not end until the day I die.

And there are days when I need a second batch of coffee just to get through the afternoon.

So be it.

(Is it too early for a glass of wine?)

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