The girls are both streaming with cold at the moment — miserable, weepy, and clingy — so today we went nowhere and did nothing. It’s impossible to even get basic chores done with one child balanced on one hip, head tucked into my chest as she breaths raspily, and the other child clinging to my leg and crying for no particular reason at all. We did a lot of cuddling today, some reading , drank tea, and took it very very easy. And though I hate it when the girls are sick like this, I also reveled in our gentle day, because I know how lucky I am to be able to stay home with them and just do nothing when they need it. As much as we’ve struggled to come to terms with this move to the US, I know I wouldn’t have been in this position if we’d stayed in the UK, and I am very grateful for it.
I have been a stay-at-home mum for nearly three and a half years now, and it feels as right and as natural to me as anything I have known in my life. Work, by contrast, was always such a struggle — I felt incompetent and a fraud in every position I ever held, bumbling along and waiting to be “found out”. Being a mother is the first job I’ve had that truly feels like it fits. I do honestly believe I am good at it, and I am doing as good a job I would hope to be.
And so, enjoying my job for the first time in my life, I have really settled into the role. I love the unit that we three create all day. I love that we do everything together — from the moment we wake up, until we go to bed, and beyond into the night. Every meal is us together, every trip out, every time I need to pop to the shop — we do it all as a unit. In my daughters’ world, they are always with each other, and always with me, and I am always with them.
I thought I might hate that, but I don’t. I worried, before I stopped working, that I might find it claustrophobic, I might miss my “me time”, but I don’t. What I found is that, in many respects, this is my “me time”. This is me, and who I was meant to be. Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life… I have, and I do truly love it, even more than I hoped.
So, it hit me with a shock when someone said to me the other day, very casually, that it’s less than 2 years before E1 will start Kindergarten. I felt myself take in a sharp breath. She said it as if it were a good thing, an exciting thing! And then pressed on — was I putting her into preschool next year? My heart recoiled. Kindergarten in only two years? Preschool next year? No! No to both of them! My mind raced ahead another year to a vision of E1, so little and innocent and vulnerable, climbing into a big yellow school bus… that big bus… on her own… to spend all day in school and away from me and from E2! I could see the two of us, sitting at the window, pining for her to come home and back to our little unit of three.
Maybe, as this year and next move on, I will get used to the idea of being apart from her. Maybe mothers somehow reach a point — a level of toddler chaos or exhaustion or… something — where they become glad of the idea of their children disappearing off to school all day. Maybe… but I can’t imagine it. I don’t want this to end. I love being home with my girls. I love my job. I love… we three. And I can’t imagine anything else.
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