Surely staying home all day long, every single day, should give me enough time to have a clean house? Prepare a decent supper each night? Make three whole brief phone calls in the nine and a half hours that my husband is at work? The math just doesn't make sense. I cannot tell you how much I hate the question, "What did you do today?" (or this week, or recently), because... What did I do? Nothing, clearly: there is play food and a solitary snow boot on the living room floor, a stack of books waiting for packing tape first aid on the desk, half-frozen pork chops languishing on the counter, and a screaming toddler clinging to my skirt. I didn't do anything. I can't do anything.
But if I sat around and did nothing all day, why am I worn out by the time Matt gets home from work? Because I didn't do "nothing;" I'm looking at it wrong.
Parenting is hard, no matter how many kids you have, no matter how old they are. But as a young mom with just one very small monster in the house, looking at moms with more kids and more experience, it can be so hard to give myself permission to admit that what I'm doing is difficult. All of these other women have more kids than I do, and their houses are cleaner, and their lives are more orderly, and their husbands are probably happier, and their kids don't hang on them crying for attention while they try to cook supper... And they have so much more to deal with! So I'm clearly just doing a horrible job.
But what if I tried to describe what I do all day without comparing myself negatively to others? I spend my day caring for and playing with and reading to a very small human being who is completely dependent on me: food, warmth, comfort, sleep, entertainment, learning to talk and reason and interact with his environment... He relies on me for all these things, for everything he needs and wants. With no siblings yet, of course I'm the one he looks to all day every day to interact with him. That's what it means to be a mom of one toddler: total, constant attention.
That's my main job, isn't it? If I'm asked what I do, do I say that I'm a mom, or a housekeeper? A mother, or a cook? Cooking and cleaning and taking care of everything else that winds up on my to-do list are important, very important. But they are not more important than being a mom and interacting with my little boy all day. It's not that he won't go play by himself so that I can get things done; he doesn't know how. I need to find ways to involve him in my chores, and help him learn to play with something on his own for five minutes when I really do need him not attached to me so I can make a phone call.
It's so tempting, so easy, to compare ourselves to others, and we just can't. It doesn't matter what my home and life look like compared to my friend's, or my neighbor's, or my mom's. The only thing that comparing my life to someone else's will ever do is distract me from living my life, with the joys and challenges that God has given me in this moment, the way I'm supposed to.