Tuesday, February 5, 2013
A few weeks ago, over a Cafe Rio chicken salad, I poured my heart out to one of my former roommates. Unlike some of the other rommates I had who were certifiably insane (like the psycho who almost broke down my bedroom door because she thought I stole her Braeburn apple), this roommate and I got along really well and we still do even though our lives have turned out very different (Her: single, no children, school teacher, bought her own house. Me: married, baby, student loans out the wazoo). Anyway, there I was stuffing my face and confessing that I felt so stressed out all the time and I couldn't figure out why. I mean, I'm a stay-at-home mom for crying out loud. I can live in my pajamas and watch Spongebob all day if I want to. I felt guilty even admitting that I felt this way to my friend because, hello, she is an elementary school teacher, which is the kind of job that would probably make most people want to curl up in fetal position and blubber like a baby. But my kind, wise, and very non-judgmental friend just listened to my complaints and thoughtfully replied, "Well, it sounds to me like you really don't value what you do. Have you given any thought as to why that is?" And so for the past few weeks I've been chewing on that question.
The truth is that being a mom is all kinds of wonderful; however, when I think of my proudest moments in life the things that stand out most to me are things like job promotions and raises that I earned, that one year I had a 4.0 at EAC, that one time I made the Dean's List at ASU, my college graduation. I'm an achievement oriented person, I like tangible things that I can point to on a wall and say, "yeah, I earned that". Or as Gretchen Rubin, the author of the Happiness Project, calls them: gold stars. And my oh my, do I ever need those gold stars. Needless to say, there are no gold stars when you are a stay-at-home mom. There are no gold stars for not losing your patience when your daughter whines at you for hours on end for no discernible reason. There are no gold stars for you when have to clean up baby vomit at 3am. There are no gold stars when you do 6 loads of laundry in one day, only to have to do another 6 loads of laundry just 3 days later. There are no gold stars for keeping your cool when your daughter has a tantrum right there in the middle of Corner Bakery while you are trying to catch up with some long lost friends. There are no gold stars for reading the same Dr. Suess book five times every night before bed. There are no gold stars for keeping the world's pickiest eater alive and healthy. There are no gold stars when your 20 month old daughter decides that napping is for the birds, meaning that you will never get another minute alone. Ever.
But enough is enough. From now on I will be giving myself gold stars. Both the metaphorical kind and the literal kind. Because really, who doesn't like gold stars?