**Guest Blogger Series**
At last, I sit down at the computer.
Crying. Hysterical crying. Coming from the location of the cacophony. Well, shit.
“He kicked me in the face!” “She threw something at me!” “He pushed me!”
Finally, I calm the chaos. Sit back down at the computer and take a deep breath, fingers posed on the keyboard, ready to tackle this thing.
Crying. Hysterical crying. More hysterical crying. I haven’t even typed a single word yet! I have barely signed into my email! Why is this happening?
Well because something was dropped on a toe and there is blood and bruising and mama mode is engaged again. Bandage is applied. Kisses and hugs and comfort given. Laptop is closed. Movie is put on. Snuggles commence.
Why can’t stay at home parents get anything done? Why is it so difficult for parents to work from home? Because there are kids at home. And kids are the rulers of the kingdom, my friends, even if we think that it is us in charge.
It can be immensely frustrating. Having young kids is THE hardest job. Well, kids of any age, from what I hear but my experiences only spans eight years. Before you get one mess cleaned up, another is made. Before you can finish cleaning up from lunch, they need another snack. Before you can sit down at the computer, you need to hire a nanny. The thing is, the frustration is because of our expectations. Should we be able to sit down at the computer for an hour to get some work done, uninterrupted, when there are three kids aged eight and under? Is that even realistic? Absolutely not!
When I rearrange my priorities, when I put them first, when I lower my expectations, beautiful things happen. I’m not getting as frustrated because I CAN’T GET A SINGLE THING DONE. There is connecting. There is love and laughter and so much light. There are more hugs and kisses than one can handle and then there are even MORE than that. The thing is, they aren’t meant to be without us, without our attention. They want to feel connected to us, to feel loved by us. If there isn’t connection there isn’t going to be freedom to sit at the computer for five seconds, never mind minutes and hours on end.
I haven’t had a job outside of the home since my oldest was born eight years ago. I have found time to teach myself calligraphy, to begin learning hand lettering. I have read countless books, maintained a few blogs. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time on social media. I learned how to cook. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, a chronic virus, and stress intolerance, among other things. I made the decision to unschool. My husband and I made the decision to have three kids in three and a half years. It has been a whirlwind.
I only recently began committing to things outside of my role as a wife and homeschooling mother. I started my own (slowly, slowly growing) business. I began an internship for something I love and believe in. I just joined my first virtual book club. When I think that I can’t get anything done, when I can’t seem to find time to wash my hair (actually, that doesn’t take much time anymore because I buzzed it), when I think this is the WORST DAY EVER, I look back. I look back at all of the things I have done. All of the things I can do. I slow it down. I breathe. Sometimes I fail and cry at the unfairness of life, though. It’s all about balance.
We are mothers. We are superheroes to little people. We are the memory keepers, the schedule maintainers. We make sure they are fed, they are clothed, they are engaged with their lives. As an unschooler, I am the question answerer, the worrier, the information finder, the list goes on. Parents make sure their kids have the things they need above everything else. But often we forget that our attention is one of their biggest needs. We forget that focusing on other things can make them feel less important. We want them to grow up, to grow out of neediness, to grow out of whining, to grow and grow and mature and mature until suddenly they are young adults. We spend their childhood pushing them away with our “one more minute” and “can’t you just find something to entertain yourself” and “can’t you see that I am working” until they don’t want us anymore. They don’t want to talk to us anymore. They don’t want to pay attention to us anymore. They won’t need us for much at all.
They are learning by our example. Can we give them our all 100% of the time? Absolutely not. We are not robots. They need to see our humanity. We need to tell them when we are tired, we need to tell them we are sorry when we do or say something wrong. We need to tell them that we love them with more than just words. We need to show them. When we do need to work from home, we need to prioritize connecting with them first and foremost and, whenever possible, reaffirm that often. When we do need to work from home, we need to show them they are still the priority, no matter what.
I guess what I’m saying is I CAN’T GET ANYTHING DONE but of course I can’t. I have little people. I am their support, their comfort, the one with the food, the one who fixes things. The role of motherhood is a pretty big deal in itself. It is a fulltime job without any additions. I guess what I am saying is this: Be gentle with yourself, love yourself, and know that this time is fleeting.
In the meantime though, know you are not alone.
Tristan is a mother to three unschooled kids, a calligrapher and hand lettering artist, wannabe farmer, and chronic illness battler. She lives in the Berkshires, MA with her husband, said children, and many, many pets. Tristan loves writing, reading, photography, and nature. Her family raises and release Monarchs every year, love being home, and live a mostly simplistic lifestyle. You can find her calligraphy and lettering on Instagram (@berkshireloveletters) and on berkshireloveletters.com. You can find her writing and life posts on Instagram (@tristan.manzolini) and on tristanmanzolini.com.